Last week, I shared a sneak peek at what’s exciting about 2012 for nonprofit communicators, according to the early results of our second annual nonprofit communications trends survey. (Please add your perspective now!). Now let’s take a quick look at what nonprofits find scary about 2012.
Vying for Supporters’ Attention
Despite having more ways to communicate than ever (and perhaps because of that), many nonprofits feel that it is harder than ever to get the attention of their supporters. Nonprofits say they are scared of the “ever-growing competition for the ears, minds, and hearts on the Internet” and “trying to get and keep people’s attention in an environment where the average person spends less than a second on our message.”
Fear of Trying Something New, Especially in Social Media
While nonprofits are excited about social media’s potential, they are also leery about it, because they don’t fully understand how to use it. Many organizations are also simply more comfortable with what they’ve always done, and anything new – including social media – is daunting. One nonprofit communicator described a fear of the “internal trepidation about new strategies,” while another said “my organization doesn’t value new ways of communication, like social media.”
The Slow Economy and Lack of Investment in Marketing
Many nonprofits that have yet to fully integrate marketing into their programmatic and fundraising programs still see communications as an optional expenditure, especially when revenues are down. One nonprofit communicator put it this way: “Our communications are nearly 100% volunteer supported. Expectations are high and need to be more realistic. We can’t support a lot more unless money and staff are allocated.” Another said, “It’s only me, with free online tools, and no budget to pull this off.”
Being Overworked and Burning Out
Tied to a lack of financial resources is the lack of time that many nonprofit staff responsible for marketing are given. Too-long to-do lists are a chronic problem throughout the nonprofit sector, but especially in communications, where new communications channels seem to spring up weekly. One nonprofit communicator said, “Time is running away. I have too many projects and it’s getting worse. It scares me that I will just walk away.” Another expressed fear of “too many projects, with too little staff time to devote, and too little internal technical knowledge for some of the upgrades we are undertaking.”
About 800 nonprofit participated in the creation of the 2011 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report last year, and I’d love hear from over 1,000 this year. Please take the survey now and add your perspective. It only takes a few minutes, and then, if you want, you’ll be added to the list to get an advance copy of the full 2012 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report in December.