Why would a not-for-profit need a sales funnel? It does not aim to sell, so what use is a sales funnel to it? Actually, there is much that not-for-profits can learn from for-profit organisations.
The application of the principles of a sales funnel, for instance, is something that has been proven to benefit not-for-profits in terms of improving their communications with their audience.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a list of steps that a company takes with the express purpose of acquiring new customers. It provides a formula for everything, from getting new leads to ensuring repeat customers.
In on-line sales the funnel looks something like this
Awareness is created in social media, advertising, product references elsewhere, or through website search. To make the funnel work, the readers are offered increasing degrees of intimacy in exchange for their trust in the organisation.
The first level of trust is where someone are prepared to offer up their email address in exchange for something they perceive to be useful.
The concept of the funnel is that people self-select at each stage with decreasing numbers going through to finally become customers.
For a not-for-profit, the funnel is more like:
With such a system in place, marketing and sales will operate like clockwork. In a constantly changing world however, nothing stays the same and to constantly test and measure the efficacy of an organisation’s sales funnel.
What is the sales funnel best used by not-for-profits?
The nature of the sales funnel that a business employs may be one of these three: acquisition, activation, and monetisation. Simply put, an acquisition funnel aims to acquire as many new leads and customers as possible. An activation funnel, on the other hand, is geared toward conversion. A monetisation funnel, meanwhile, is all about generating revenue. In the case of not-for-profits, an acquisition funnel makes the most sense to continually extend the organisation’s reach and range.
What are the steps in a not-for-profit funnel?
Through an acquisition funnel, a not-for-profit can acquire new donors or members. The funnel is designed to cultivate lifelong supporters of the organisation as they go down the following steps:
- Prospecting – This is the part where the organisation finds new leads (donors, members, or supporters). In the case of a free health monitoring program, for instance, the organisation needs to be offering something that its target audience wants.
- Cultivation – This part works on building relationships with the leads to prime them for making a commitment to the organisation. With their leads’ interest piqued, the not-for-profit moves to establish rapport and reinforce the benefits of getting involved with the organisation.
- Asking – This part involves the closing of the deal. The organisation asks for commitment, be it in the form of donations or some other kind of support. In the case of a health monitoring program, this would typically mean a subscription or a membership.
- Stewardship – This part is all about ensuring the supporter’s continued commitment to the organisation. There should definitely be measures in place to keep the members involved and their interest up.
The same steps are listed here, but specifically in relation to obtaining donors. These steps have to be constantly reviewed and tested, ready to be modified to make way for something that will be more efficient in arriving at the desired results. Here are some helpful sales funnel tips.
It is clear that funnel building principles apply to not-for-profits as well. If you want to see more parallels with for-profits in this regard, they are discussed in this article.
Making it work
There are many techniques that can be used at each stage of the sales funnel to help retain supporters:
- SEO is optimized on all content created so that visitors can find it online.
- Content is consistently shared across social media.
- Having “call-to-action” buttons strategically placed on your website asking visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, email list or directly participate).
- Offer valuable content to your readers – things they can make use of
- Tell compelling stories about those affected by your organization
- Show your participants how their involvement is impacting the cause.
- Finally, offer an invitiation to return again and stay in the program.
For best results, it behoves an organisation to adopt a strong and sustainable funnel for the continued recruitment of supporters and, thereafter, the inspiration of their loyalty.