Basic Guide to Nonprofit Program Design and Marketing

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    Basic Guide to Nonprofit Program Design and Marketing

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC, experts
    in nonprofit program development
    .

    Much of the content
    of this topic came from this book:
    Nonprofit Programs - Book Cover

    In nonprofits, the product or service that they deliver are often referred
    to as a “program.” Thus, the guidelines in this topic are somewhat
    similar to guidelines in the topic Product
    Development
    . A nonprofit that is developing a tangible product to generate
    a profit for the organization (referred to as a Social
    Enterprise
    ) might benefit from reading the content in that topic.

    This topic in the Library guides the reader to design a nonprofit program and
    services that are highly integrated with the organization’s mission, strategic
    planning goals and needs of clients. The resulting program plan also serves
    as a straightforward basis from which to write program proposals to funders
    and conduct straightforward program evaluations. References to Web addresses
    with additional free information are provided in most of the following sections.
    These addresses are spelled out in the text of this guide. Therefore, the reader
    might best be served to print out the entire guide for future reference. (The
    guide is approximately 12 pages long. This document also includes numerous references
    to the free, online Basic
    Guide to Program Evaluation
    .)

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Nonprofit Programs and Capacity Building

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    What is a Nonprofit Program?

    Resources and Activities Organized to Provide Related
    Services
    Program “System”: Inputs, Processes, Outputs
    and Outcomes

    Preparation – Cornerstones to Successful Program Planning

    Program Should Be Closely Aligned with Organization’s Mission
    Program Planning Should Be Closely Aligned With Strategic
    Planning
    Involve Board Members in Program Planning
    Conduct Program Planning as a Team
    Program Planning Should Involve Potential Clients
    as Much as Possible
    Don’ Worry About Developing “Perfect” Program
    Plan

    Planning Your Program Framework

    Program Framework: Outcomes, Goals, Strategies and Objectives
    Program Outcomes, Goals and Strategies Follow Directly
    from Strategic Planning
    Program Outcomes
    Program Goals
    Program Strategies
    Program Objectives

    Designing Each Service

    Designing Each Service in Program (Through Market
    Analysis)
    Draft Basic Description of Each of Your Services
    Target Markets and Customer Profiles
    What Needs Do Your Services Meet for Each Target
    Market?
    Who Are Your Competitors?
    Who Are Your Collaborators?
    What Price Should You Charge?
    What Laws and Regulations Must You Follow?
    What Name Will You Use for Your Service?
    Protect Your Creations with Copyrights, Trademarks/Servicemarks
    and/or Patents?
    Finalize Description of Each of Your Services

    Planning Program Promotions

    Planning Program Promotions (Advertising, Public Relations
    and Sales)
    Positioning Your Nonprofit and Its Services — the
    Positioning Statement
    Sales Planning
    Planning Your Advertising and Promotions
    Public and Media Relations Planning
    Customer Service

    Planning Program Delivery and Distribution

    Planning Service Delivery Methods
    Producing Each Service
    Distributing Each Service

    Planning Program Evaluation

    Planning Methods to Measure Success of Program
    Building In Key Indicators of Success
    Conducting Initial, Pilot of Program
    Program Reviews
    Evaluation of Plans (Marketing and Promotions,
    Public and Media Relations and Sales)
    Evaluate Progress Toward Goals and Objectives
    Evaluate Response from Clients
    Program Evaluations

    Planning Program Budgeting

    Resourcing and Budgeting for Program Development
    Program Resources and Budget


    WHAT’S A NONPROFIT PROGRAM?

    Resources and Activities Organized
    to Provide Related Services

    Basically, a nonprofit program is a highly integrated set of
    resources and activities geared to provide a service or closely
    related set of services to clients. The typical nonprofit organizational
    structure is built around programs. (Two other major aspects of
    the nonprofit structure are its governance (the board and, for
    some, the chief executive, too) and its central administration.
    The board oversees the entire nonprofit organization. The central
    administration exists to use the nonprofit’s common resources
    to ensure each program is developed and operated effectively.)

    Programs are not the same as activities!!! Many nonprofits
    have activities, not programs. The following article describes
    the difference:
    What Nonprofit Programs Are — and Are Not

    Program “System”: Inputs, Processes,
    Outputs and Outcomes

    Programs, like other organizations, can seem a highly confusing,
    amorphous mess that is very hard to comprehend. It can be hard
    to keep perspective. However, like the overall organization itself,
    a program is a system with inputs, processes, outputs (tangibles)
    and outcomes (impacts on clients) — with ongoing feedback among
    these parts. This systems perspective helps keep clarity about
    programs and will help a great deal during program planning.

    Program inputs are the various resources needed to run the
    program, e.g., money, facilities, clients, program staff, volunteers,
    etc. The processes are how program services are delivered, e.g.,
    clients are counseled, children are cared for, art is created,
    association members are supported, etc. The outputs are the units
    of service, e.g., number of clients counseled, children cared
    for, artistic pieces produced, or members in the association.
    Outcomes are the impacts on the clients who are receiving the
    services, e.g., increased mental health, safe and secure development,
    richer artistic appreciation and perspectives in life, increased
    effectiveness among members, etc. The outcomes are the “compass”
    for the program and help it keep its direction. This is why funders
    are increasingly requesting outcomes-based evaluations from nonprofits.


    PREPARATION — CORNERSTONES TO SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM PLANNING

    With the following cornerstones in place, the nonprofit is
    assured of a program plan that has a strong foundation and can
    survive multiple changes as the program develops.

    Program Should Be Closely Aligned with
    Organization’s Mission

    The mission of the organization is its overall purpose in the
    community. During strategic planning, planners work from the mission
    to identify several overall, major (or strategic) goals that must
    be reached and that, in total, work toward the mission. Each program
    is associated with achieving one or more strategic goals and,
    therefore, should contribute directly toward the mission as well.
    If an idea for a program comes up at some time other than during
    the strategic planning process, nonprofit board members must carefully
    ask themselves if the program is really appropriate to the mission
    of the organization.

    Program Planning Should Be Closely Aligned
    With Strategic Planning

    Depending on the nature of the organization, strategic planning
    typically includes review of the organization’s vision, mission,
    values, overall issues and goals. Goals associated with services
    to clients often become program(s) and strategies to reach those
    goals often become methods of delivering services in the programs.
    Because programs must be tied closely to the nature of the organization’s
    mission and its goals, the program planning process should also
    be closely aligned to the organization’s strategic planning process
    as well. Typically, at a point right after the strategic planning
    process has identified strategic goals and issues, a team of planners
    can draft a framework for how strategic goals can be met. This
    framework is often the roadmap for a new program.

    Nonprofits must strive to keep down overhead costs, which are
    often interpreted as the costs of central administration. Therefore,
    avoid developing programs to fix recurring administrative problems
    in the workplace.

    Involve Board Members in Program Planning

    A major responsibility of board members is to set the strategic
    direction for their nonprofit. Therefore, board members should
    be highly involved in the strategic and program planning processes
    in the nonprofit. However, staff members might be strongly involved
    in determining how services will actually be delivered in the
    program.

    Conduct Program Planning as a Team

    The chief executive, key planners on the board, relevant middle
    managers and representatives from major client groups should all
    be involved in program planning. (“Relevant middle managers”
    are those who lead programs or other departments that will integrate
    or coordinate with the new program being planned.) As mentioned
    above, program planning is often initiated as part of the organization’s
    overall strategic planning process and so is often conducted by
    the strategic planning team.

    Program Planning Should Involve
    Potential Clients as Much as Possible

    One can embark on a wonderful program planning process with
    all the right parts, but if key clients aren’t involved to provide
    perspectives from the program user’s point of view, the organization
    may build a beautiful ladder — but on the wrong roof. Therefore,
    involve clients as much as possible in initial ideas for a program.
    Discuss with them your perceptions of their unmet needs. Try verify
    if these needs actually exist and how they would like their needs
    to be met. You might have representatives from client groups review
    the final draft of your program plan. Note that this involvement
    of clients is a critical aspect of the marketing process, specifically
    marketing research.

    Don’ Worry About Developing “Perfect”
    Program Plan

    If the organization involves the right people, everyone participates
    wholeheartedly and continues to reflect on their experiences,
    then the organization will develop the “perfect” plan
    for the organization’s programs. The organization remains the
    only real “expert” on their own planning. Outside consultants
    and facilitators can be brought in, but each planning decision
    is ultimately up to the organization members. The “perfect”
    program plan will meet the nature and needs of the organization
    and continue to be updated as organization members learn more
    about meeting the needs of their clients.


    PLANNING YOUR PROGRAM AND SERVICES

    Program Framework: Outcomes, Goals,
    Strategies and Objectives

    Basically, planning is taking one’s best shot at working up a “tree”
    of decisions (decisions that must be made at some time, and the earlier the
    better) to propose (and often get funding for) developing a program. Your plan
    doesn’t have to be perfect and, like any plan, it isn’t a rule, rather it’s
    a set of guidelines that serve as reference for the future. You can change your
    plans — just know why and be able to explain (e.g., to your board and funder)
    why you changed the plans. This planning effort is almost always more than nonprofit
    personnel want to undertake, but is almost always less than they fear.

    Program Outcomes, Goals and Strategies
    Follow Directly from Strategic Planning

    If your strategic planning was done thoroughly then it should
    be relatively easy to determine program outcomes, goals and strategies.
    The strategic planning process determines the mission (or purpose)
    of the organization in terms of uniquely accomplishing certain
    outcomes for specific groups of clients. The process also determines
    the goals needed to work towards the mission and the general methods
    (or strategies) to reach the goals. As much as possible, goals
    are specified in terms to meet specific needs among specific groups
    of clients.

    The overall goals of the organization very much determine whom
    you want to serve, that is, who your target markets will be. For
    example, strategic goals might be to expand the number of clients
    you have now, get new clients, get more revenue from current clients,
    etc. You may want to develop new services in a current or new
    market, or expand current services in a current or new market.
    These examples of strategic goals greatly determine who your target
    markets will be.

    (NOTE: Don’t be overly concerned about completely understanding
    correct definitions of the terms in this section. As long as your
    program planning proceeds directly from aspects of your strategic
    planning, you’ll be headed in the right direction. You might consider
    goals as measurable accomplishments and objectives as smaller,
    measurable milestones along the way to the goals. Consider strategies
    as methods to reach the goals or objectives.)

    Program Outcomes

    We’ve noted above that intended outcomes are always the compass to point direction
    for nonprofits and their programs. Outcomes are benefits to clients from participation
    in the program. Outcomes are usually in terms of enhanced learning (knowledge,
    perceptions/attitudes or skills) or conditions, for example, increased literacy,
    self-reliance, certifications, etc. For example:

    • Example Outcome #1 — Drop-outs from Minneapolis high schools
      obtain high school diplomas or equivalent levels of certification
    • Example Outcome #2 — Within three months after getting certification,
      participants obtain at least half-time employment or enroll in
      an accredited program to further their education

    Program Goals

    Programs goals should follow directly from, or be the same
    as, strategic service goals intended to meet specific needs of
    specific client groups. (Note that there are also strategic goals
    other than for meeting needs of clients, for example, getting
    a facility.)

    Goals should specify the results from program services and
    be in terms that are “SMARTER” (an acronym), that is,
    specific, measurable, acceptable to those working to achieve the
    goals, realistic, timely, extending the capabilities of those
    working to achieve the goals and rewarding for them, as well.

    • Example Program Goal #1: Support at least 600 drop-outs from
      Minneapolis high schools to obtain diplomas or equivalent levels
      of certification

    Program Strategies

    Program strategies (or methods to reach goals) should follow
    directly from strategies intended to achieve each strategic goal,
    for example:

    • Example Program Strategy 1.1 — Conduct high-school equivalency
      training programs to drop-outs from Minneapolis high schools
    • Example Program Strategy 1.2 — Provide free transportation
      to enrollees in the program
    • Example Program Strategy 1.3 — Provide subsidized child
      care to enrollees in the program

    Program Objectives

    Program objectives (or specific, measurable milestones along
    the way to achieving program goals) are accomplished along the
    way while implementing the above strategies, for example:

    • Example Objective 1.2.1: Provide three vans that will each
      transport eight riders per day (enrollees and/or their children)
      to and from the program

    Designing Each Service
    in Program (Through Market Analysis)

    Developing program services is not unlike developing products
    or services in the for-profit market, particularly as nonprofits
    look to more innovative methods to earn revenue from products
    and services. Nonprofit services must be marketed, including clarifying
    which client groups the nonprofit is going to serve( these are
    target markets), verifying their needs (a basic form of market
    research), analyzing competitors (nonprofits do have competitors)
    and potential collaborators, determining the best fee for services,
    determining how to produce and distribute the services, and how
    to promote (advertise, manage public image and sell) the services,
    as well.

    Draft Basic Description
    of Each of Your Services

    Typically, a service is a closely related set of activities
    that accomplishes a specific benefit for clients. Exactly what
    determines a service in an organization is highly unique to the
    organization itself. A program can have several services. A nonprofit
    might sell services separately and/or in a package of related
    services. For example, from the above example outcome #1, services
    might include:

    • Example Service for Outcome #1 — High-school training services
    • Example Service for Outcome #1 — Transportation services
    • Example Service for Outcome #1 — Child-care services

    By now, you might have a strong, clear sense of what each of
    your services are. At this point, you might draft for yourself
    a written description of each of your services. The description
    should include: nature of your services (arts, social services,
    education, etc.), the specific groups of clients served by the
    service, outcomes for them, other benefits to them and where they
    should go next if they are interested in using the service. Be
    careful to describe the services in terms of benefits to clients,
    not to you. For example, address pricing, convenience, location,
    quality, service, atmosphere, etc.

    What Major Groups of Clients
    Do You (or Do You Want to) Serve? (Target Markets and Customer Profiles)

    This paragraph is repeated from above: The overall goals
    of the organization very much determine whom you want to serve.
    For example, strategic goals might be to expand the number of
    clients you have now, get new clients, get more revenue from current
    clients, etc. You may want to develop new services in a current
    or new market, or expand current services in a current or new
    market. These examples of strategic goals greatly determine who
    your target markets will be.

    Understanding your program’s target markets makes it much easier
    for you to ensure that your program remains highly effective.
    In addition to helping focus the results and evaluation of your
    services, understanding your target markets helps you to focus
    on where to promote your services, including advertising, conducting
    public relations campaigns and selling your services. If you’ve
    done a good job so far of strategic planning and program planning,
    then identifying the primary targets market should be fairly straightforward.
    However, it is very useful to determine several additional target
    markets. These additional markets are often where you should focus
    promotions and mean additional sources of assistance and revenue.
    For example, a target market that follows from the above examples,
    might be:

    • Target Market #1: Dropouts from Minneapolis high schools
    • Target Market #2: Counselors in Minneapolis high schools
    • Target Market #3: Parents of drop-outs from Minneapolis schools
    • Target Market #4: Job placement services, seeking to help
      people find jobs
    • Target Market #5: Local businesses looking for employees

    The more you know about your clients, the better you might
    be at serving them. At this point, write down a customer profile,
    or description of the groups of clients (or markets) who will
    use your services. Consider, for example, their major needs, how
    they prefer to have their needs met, where they are and where
    they prefer to have their needs met and demographics information
    (their age ranges, family arrangement, education levels, income
    levels, typical occupations, major interested, etc).

    What Needs Do Your Services Meet
    for Each Target Market?

    By now, you should have clear idea of the major needs met by
    each of your services for their primary (or #1) target market.
    It’s critical that you have strong sense of the needs that your
    services are providing to clients. The services should be described
    in terms that are beneficial to clients — what’s in it for them?
    Consider: what needs of theirs are being met, low pricing, convenience,
    quality, atmosphere, location, etc.

    What needs might your services meet among other markets as
    well? For example, in the above examples:

    • Needs Met for Target Market #1: High school graduation, eligibility
      for job and further education
    • Needs Met for Target Market #2: Place to refer high school
      drop-outs so they can continue their education
    • Needs Met for Target Market #3: Place to refer their children
      for continued training, transportation and child care
    • Needs Met for Target Market #4: Place to get clients to find
      jobs for
    • Needs Met for Target Market #5: Place to get job candidates
    • Note that identifying the needs of target markets is a major aspect of the
      marketing process, specifically marketing research. For more information now
      about marketing research, see Marketing
      Research

    Who Are Your Competitors?

    Nonprofits exist to serve their communities. One would think
    that in this spirit of service, all nonprofits should collaborate
    for “the common good”. However, nonprofits do compete
    for the attention, participation and money of their clients —
    and in many cases, compete for the same items from funders. Consider
    the following questions: Who are your competitors? What client
    needs are you competing to meet? What are the similarities and
    differences between their products/services and yours? What are
    the strengths and weaknesses of each of their products and services?
    How do their prices compare to yours? How are they doing overall?

    How do you plan to compete? Offer better quality services?
    Lower prices? More support? Easier access to services?

    Who Are Your Collaborators?

    Successful collaboration brings two or more organizations together
    to work in synergy, in an effort that is “more than the sum
    of its parts.” That is, if both organizations worked apart,
    both would serve clients and produce some benefits — but not
    as many and as well as if both organizations worked together.
    In working together, there’s an economy of scale, or sharing of
    resources, that lowers costs and focuses more resources on serving
    clients.

    An increasing number of funders are requiring evidence of collaboration
    planning from nonprofits applying for funding. Many nonprofit
    leaders naturally struggle with the notion of collaboration, of
    sharing resources and control with other organizations. Collaboration
    can be viewed as quite frustrating for nonprofit leaders. This
    dilemma invites leaders to carefully consider whom it is that
    they really want to serve. If collaboration will better serve
    clients (and it usually will) and better serving clients is the
    overall goal, then collaboration should be attempted.

    In this analysis, consider: Who are potential collaborators
    with your nonprofit? What client needs might you collaborate to
    meet? What resources might they bring and what could you bring?
    What could you do next to cultivate collaboration with other agencies?

    What Price Should You Charge?

    Nonprofit typically don’t place the same high priority on setting
    prices that for-profits do. However, funders won’t support a program
    indefinitely. The nonprofit is always wise to explore what revenue
    can be generated from a service to offset its operating costs.
    Nonprofits that rely on federal funding would be wise to plan
    programs that recover costs through the use of fees because the
    federal government is substantially reducing its contributions
    to nonprofits.

    Several major factors influence the pricing for a service.
    Strategic goals greatly influence pricing. For example, if the
    nonprofit really wants to get into a new market, then it might
    charge lower than usual prices in order to generate more clients
    who buy the service. The nonprofit might consider changing pricing
    if the demand for its services are very high or low. Competitor
    pricing also has a great effect. If competitors are charging much
    less, then the nonprofit might do well to lower prices. Similarly,
    if the competitor is charging much more, then the nonprofit might
    consider increasing its own prices.

    In this pricing analysis, consider: Is your nonprofit recouping
    your costs (time, money, materials, etc.) to provide it? Is it
    affordable to clients? Would a sliding-fee scale better? What
    about volume discounts? What is the competition charging? What
    should be the new fee(s), if any? How do you know?

    • For more information now about Pricing

    What Laws and Regulations Must You Follow?

    It’s critical to identify all laws and regulations that effect
    how you carry out your particular services. Contact local state
    agencies to determine these laws and regulations, for example,
    offices of your states attorney or attorney general, secretary
    of state, etc.

    What Name Will You Use for Your Service?

    To effectively promote your service, you must have a concise,
    yet meaningful description of the service. This can be much more
    complicated than merely picking a name. There are consultancies
    built around helping organizations to name or brand their products
    and services. You have to be sure that you’re not using a name
    that is already trademarked or servicemarked. You should not have
    a name that closely resembles an already established name in your
    area, or clients will confuse your services with those referred
    to by the other name — or, the organization with the other name
    may choose to sue you. You need a name that makes sense locally,
    but if you grow, the name will still be understood elsewhere.
    The name you choose for your service will be around for a long
    time and can have substantial impact on your services are perceived.
    Therefore, seriously consider some basic forms of market research
    to glean impressions of different names. For example, convene
    several focus groups to glean their reactions to various names.
    Have survey cards that clients can complete to suggest names.

    Protect Your Creations with Copyrights,
    Trademarks/Servicemarks and/or Patents?

    You may want to legally protect the unique combination of ideas,
    innovations, processes and materials (that is, the “intellectual
    property”) that produce the products and services of your
    nonprofit. Communities usually expect nonprofits to operate in
    the spirit of complete support for the common good of the community.
    For some people, this expectation might include that the intellectual
    property of nonprofits should be owned by everyone in the community,
    as well. Thus, these people might believe that a nonprofit should
    not seek to legally own — and/or seek to be reimbursed for duplication
    of — its products and services. However, even if a nonprofit
    does not seek to be paid for duplication of its products and services,
    the nonprofit should seek to protect the integrity of its products
    and services, including that their names not be used for other
    similar products and services and/or that other, poorer quality
    products and services not be confused with the products and services
    of the nonprofit. Therefore, the nonprofit should carefully consider
    legal protection of its intellectual property. Copyright law protects
    original “works of authorship”. Patent law protects
    new inventions and processes. Trademark laws protects words, names
    and symbols.

    Finalize Description of Each of Your
    Services

    At this point, you’ve thought — and hopefully learned — more
    about each of your nonprofit’s services. You’ve learned more about
    the service’s target markets, benefits to clients, competitors,
    collaborators, pricing and naming. Now go back to your drafted
    description of each of your services and update the descriptions
    with what you’ve learned. Include description of:
    1. The business you’re in, for example, service, manufacturing,
    etc.
    2. The type of your service, for example, arts, advocacy, social
    services, education, civic, cultural, etc.
    3. The target market for the service. Include description of the
    target market.
    4. Include your strategies regarding pricing, distribution, advertising
    and promotion strategies, etc.

    Planning Program Promotions (Advertising,
    Public Relations and Sales)

    Promotion keeps your service in the minds of your clients and
    helps stimulate demand for your services. Promotion involves ongoing
    advertising, public and media relations, and can include sales
    and customer service. All of these build from having a clear idea
    of how you want position your nonprofit and its services in the
    target markets (or groups of clients) that you are aiming to serve.

    Positioning Your Nonprofit and
    Its Services — the Positioning Statement

    Simply put, positioning is determining how you want others
    to perceive your nonprofit and/or each of its services. Positioning
    builds from many of the above-mentioned activities, including
    clarifying target markets, which of their needs your services
    meet, how your services uniquely meets these needs, the price
    of services, how your nonprofit “stands up against”
    competitors, and the unique name of your services.

    Your market position can be described by your positioning statement.
    Advertising and promotions often work from this positioning statement.
    This statement usually includes two to five sentences, but should
    be very brief and concise. It should clearly depict your organization
    in the way that you want others to perceive it. When writing it
    down, consider answers to the question: “We are the nonprofit
    that …”

    Sales Planning

    Sales can be a strong component of your advertising and promotions
    activities. In addition, the budget for advertising and promotions
    is often determined as a percentage of the revenue expected from
    sales. Therefore, we’ll look at sales at this point in the advertising
    and promotions information.

    Sales involves most or many of the following activities, including
    cultivating prospective buyers (or leads) in a market segment;
    conveying the features, advantages and benefits of a service to
    the lead; and closing the sale (or coming to agreement on pricing
    and services). Sales forecasts (or projections about sales accomplished
    in terms of money made, units sold, etc.) are often used as the
    basis for determining how much to budget for advertising and promotions
    and for public relations efforts. Sales forecasts are often made
    on the basis of market research about the market and industry.

    Unfortunately, many people in nonprofits have strong feelings
    against sales. They perceive sales as heavy-handed and manipulative
    efforts to force someone to do something that they really don’t
    want to do. However, sales is evolving from this old-fashioned,
    heavy-handed approach to more relationship-based approaches geared
    toward identifying the needs of clients and helping clients decide
    if the services meet those needs. If a person really believes
    strongly in their services, then sales can be very meaningful
    experience. It’s often wise to send personnel to basic forms of
    sales training. This can make a big difference.

    The best sales techniques usually include strong skills in
    questioning and listening. Good sales techniques also include
    ensuring strong methods of customer service — current customers
    are often the best sources of customers for new products and services.
    Probably the best approach to ensuring strong sales is knowing
    the needs of clients — this starts with effective market research.

    Regarding your sales planning, consider: What target markets
    will be approached? How will you conduct sales efforts with them?
    How much do you expect to accomplish in sales (consider terms
    of outputs, such as dollars made, clients recruited, or other
    units of service). How do you generate sales contacts and potential
    customers (or leads) among each target group? Who does follow-up
    and presentations? Who actually closes the sale? How will you
    know if your sales efforts are effective?

    Planning Your Advertising
    and Promotions

    Advertising and promotions is continuing to bring a service
    to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising
    and promotions are best carried out by implementing an overall
    advertising and promotions plan. The plan often includes plans
    for a promotional campaign, including an advertising calendar
    and media plan. The goals of the plans should depend very much
    on the overall goals and strategies of the organization, and the
    results of the marketing analysis, including the positioning statement.
    Successful advertising and promotions depends very much on knowing
    what target markets you want to reach, what features and benefits
    you want to convey to each of them, what methods and media you
    will use to convey it to them, who is responsible to implement
    the methods and how much money is budgeted for this effort.

    When selecting methods, consider what communications methods
    and media will be most effective in reaching target markets and
    when. Consider, for example, radio, newsletters, classifieds,
    displays/signs, posters, word of mouth, press releases, direct
    mail, special events, brochures, neighborhood newsletters, etc.
    What media is most practical for you to use in terms of access
    and affordability? You can often find out a lot about your clients
    preferences just by conducting some basic market research methods.

    Public and Media Relations
    Planning

    Public and media relations includes ongoing activities to ensure
    the nonprofit has a strong public image. Public relations activities
    include helping the public to understand the nonprofit and its
    services. Similar to effective advertising and promotions, effective
    public relations often depends on designing and implementing a
    well-designed public relations plan. The plan often includes description
    of what you want to convey to whom, methods to convey it, who
    is responsible for implementing the methods and how much money
    is budgeted to fund these activities. Similar to advertising and
    promotions planning, a media plan and advertising calendar can
    be very useful in a public relations plan, as well.

    Often, public relations are conducted through the media, that
    is, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Publicity is mention
    in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the
    message in the media, at least, not as much as they do in advertising.
    Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be
    said.

    Regarding public relations, consider: What groups of stakeholders
    do we want to appeal to and how? What impressions do you want
    each of your stakeholder to have? What communications media do
    they see or prefer the most? Consider advertising, collaborations,
    annual reports, networking, TV, radio, newsletters, classifieds,
    displays/signs, posters, word of mouth, direct mail, special events,
    brochures, neighborhood newsletters, etc. What media is most practical
    for you to use in terms of access and affordability? What messages
    are most appealing to each stakeholder group?

    Regarding media relations, consider: Who in your organization
    should respond to calls from newspaper reporters, etc? What should
    organization members say to the reporters? Do you have a script
    that your organization can reference to represent the organization
    to the community? Do you have guidelines for writing press releases
    and are these guidelines used?

    Customer Service

    The for-profit arena has seen dramatic improvements in customer
    service as customers become more discerning in their selection
    of products and services (clients of nonprofit organizations are
    also customers of the organization). Organizations are realizing
    that the best source of customers for new products and services
    are current customers — if their needs are being met. As with
    many other areas in this guide, the place to start when understanding
    customer service may be some basic methods of market research.

    When considering how you will ensure strong “customer”
    services, consider: Are clients very satisfied with your services?
    How do you know? If not, what can you do to improve customer service?
    How can you do that? What policies and procedures are needed to
    ensure strong customer service. Include training in your considerations,
    including skills in interpersonal relations, such as questioning,
    listening, handling difficult people, handling interpersonal conflicts,
    negotiating.

    Planning Service Delivery Methods

    These methods are primarily in regard to building and reproducing
    the service (producing it), and then bringing the particular target
    market and service together (distributing the service). How your
    nonprofit produces and distributes services depends very much
    on the nature and needs of your organization and services. However,
    there are some common questions you should address in your planning.

    Producing Each Service

    If your program planning and marketing is successful, then
    hopefully you can expect an increase in demand for your services.
    You consider the following questions: What resources are needed
    to build the service? What resources are needed to reproduce the
    service (that is, provide it multiple times)? How will you meet
    expected demand for the services over the next six months? Twelve
    months? Eighteen months?

    Note that the development and implementation of various production
    methods do not have to be addressed in detail in a marketing plan
    — these topics are usually included in the operations or management
    planning for the program. However, production should be generally
    considered during the marketing analysis to ensure the eventual
    detailed production planning takes into consideration the needs
    of target markets and having their needs met on time.

    Distributing Each Service

    Matters of distribution of service can be critical for nonprofits,
    especially if they are providing critically needed services to
    specific groups of clients. For example, low-income clients may
    not be able to afford transportation to other areas to receive
    your services.

    Carefully consider: What distribution channels should you consider,
    for example, should clients come to your facility, you visit their
    offices, can you provide services over the telephone, etc? What
    resources are needed to bring together your services and your
    target markets? What major steps need to occur to accomplish these
    distribution channels?

    Note that detailed planning about developing and maintaining
    distribution channels is often included in the operations or management
    plans, rather than in the marketing plan. However, the marketing
    analysis should focus on selecting the methods of distribution
    that best meet the needs of target markets and the nonprofit.

    Planning Methods to Measure Success of
    Program

    The best indicator of the success of a program is clear, continued
    evidence that its services are meeting the previously unmet needs
    of its clients. To clearly conclude this success of a program,
    you need to clear indicators of success.

    Building In Key Indicators of Success

    It’s important during program planning to build in clear indicators
    of the success of the program. For example, consider establishing
    indicators that are associated with outcomes intended from the
    program, such as “increased self-reliance (an outcome) for
    70% of adult, African American women living in the inner city
    of Minneapolis as evidenced by the following measures (indicators)
    …” An outcomes-based evaluation will help you ascertain
    if you’ve reached this indicator or not. You can also resort to
    indicators in terms of outputs (tangible results), for example,
    the number of clients served, money made, milestones accomplished,
    measures of satisfaction among clients per questionnaires, etc.
    Note that measures of outputs are very weak indicators of the
    success of achieving outcomes. As a result, many evaluators and
    funders will assert that more valid measures toward outcomes must
    be used.

    If you struggle with identifying key indicators of success,
    then imagine the program operating in a highly successful manner
    at some time in the future. Then describe what features of the
    program indicate that the program is successful.

    • For more information now about program evaluations, their planning and how
      to carry them out, see Program
      Evaluation

    Conducting Initial, Pilot of Program

    Consider planning a six-month or one-year pilot effort. The
    pilot will be a sort of mini-program that will reflect many of
    the aspects of a full-blown program. However, planning and operations
    regarding the pilot will include numerous reviews and assessments
    from which to learn from experiences around the pilot program.
    This learning will go into planning for the full-blown program.
    Note that funders are often highly cooperative in funding pilots
    as an approach to research or verify the nonprofit’s proposed
    plans.

    Program Reviews

    Program reviews are regular examination of the program’s activities
    to assess how the program is doing. A program review team should
    probably include the chief executive, the head of the new program
    and one or two other program directors, particularly those from
    programs that closely coordinate with the new program. A board
    planner should be involved, if possible. Examine if the program
    seems to be following the original plan. If it’s not, the deviation
    is not as important as understanding why and assessing if the
    deviation was necessary. Take a look at the key indicators as
    noted in the plan. What is the progress toward the key indicators?
    What major problems exist and what is needed to address them?
    How are the actual costs compared to the planned costs? Are any
    actions needed to avoid financial problems? What would you do
    differently about the program if you could do anything? What limitations
    are holding you back from what you would ideally do if you could?
    What are you learning from the program implementation so far?

    Evaluation of Plans (Marketing
    and Promotions, Public and Media Relations and Sales)

    One of the most effective ways to ensure the success of your
    program is by evaluating the implementation of the plan. The plans
    are not law — they’re a set of guidelines and controls. If the
    plans needs to be changed, then fine — but know why they need
    to be changed and how.

    Evaluate Progress Toward Goals
    and Objectives

    1. Are goals and objectives being achieved or not? If they
    are, then acknowledge, reward and communicate the progress. If
    not, then consider the following questions.
    2. Will the goals be achieved according to the timelines specified
    in the plan? If not, then why?
    3. Should the deadlines for completion be changed (be careful
    about making these changes — know why efforts are behind schedule
    before times are changed)?
    4. Do personnel have adequate resources (money, equipment, facilities,
    training, etc.) to achieve the goals?
    5. Are the goals and objectives still realistic?
    6. Should priorities be changed to put more focus on achieving
    the goals?
    7. Should the goals be changed (be careful about making these
    changes — know why efforts are not achieving the goals before
    changing the goals)?
    8. What can be learned from our monitoring and evaluation in order
    to improve future planning activities and also to improve future
    monitoring and evaluation efforts?

    Evaluate Response from
    Clients

    For example, consider:
    1. Did customers respond to advertising and promotions?
    2. Did stakeholders respond with positive impression of the agency?
    3. Did customers respond stronger than expected in certain areas?
    4. What media seemed to generate the most responses?
    5. What else can be learned about how clients are responding to
    the marketing efforts?

    Program Evaluations

    Programs should be evaluated on a regular basis to discern
    if the programs are reaching their goals, achieving their outcomes
    and if they are doing so in an efficient manner. Small nonprofits
    seldom have the resources to conduct comprehensive, detailed evaluations
    of a program’s goals, outcomes and process. However, personnel
    from small nonprofits can think about where they have the most
    concerns about a particular program or aspect of a program (goals,
    processes, outcomes, etc.) and then target a highly practical
    evaluation of that particular aspect of the program.

    Program evaluation holds numerous advantages. It can verify
    or increase the impact (or outcomes) on constituents. It can fine
    tune delivery of program services, which, in turn, saves costs
    and time. Evaluations often provide wonderful client testimonials
    that can be used for public relations and credibility when applying
    for funding. In fact, evaluations are often used by program planners
    to ensure that the program is indeed carrying out the original
    process planned for the program in the first place. Often, nonprofit
    leaders develop a program plan which ends up changing dramatically
    over time as program staff are overcome by events. Program processes
    can naturally deviate from the original plan because program plans
    were flawed in the first place, the program’s environment changed
    a great deal or program staff simply found a much better way to
    deliver services to clients.

    • For more information now about program evaluations, their planning and how
      to carry them out, see Program
      Evaluation

    Resourcing and Budgeting for Program
    Development

    Program Resources and
    Budget

    Examine the program’s process to the extent that you can associate
    what resources are needed to carry out that process. Consider:
    personnel costs (salaries and wages, fringe benefits, consultants),
    training, space, equipment purchase or rental, travel, copier,
    telephone, general office supplies, etc.
    Develop a program budget by estimating the cost for each resource
    identified above. Note that this budgeting activity is almost
    always required in a proposal if the nonprofit wants to pursue
    funding for the new program.

    For additional information now about Developing
    a Budget


    For the Category of Program Management:

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