My wife’s favorite store is the Dollar Tree.

She loves going in there and finding all kinds of $1 items for our house. From food to toiletries, they’ve got a lot of stuff and she LOVES to buy it!

What’s funny is they even sell published books. This is NOT Barnes and Noble. It’s the Dollar Tree. Most of them are written by unknown authors with unknown titles.

All of these books at one time were on a bookshelf in a major bookstore. They sold anywhere from $15-$30, but now here they are at $1!?

If you read the titles they seem kind of interesting, but they don’t grab you and make you want to read them. The jackets definitely don’t get you excited about them.

At one point, these were good ideas, just implemented poorly.

So, what happened?

A publisher or book agent decided to invest in printing these books. They felt like they would be a hit, but they bombed.

Now, instead of gracing the aisles of Barnes and Noble and being a New York Times bestseller, they’re hanging out in a dusty crate in the Dollar Tree.

The other day I was talking to Rosie, a digital development director at a DC-based nonprofit. We were working through some of the areas they could use some better fundraising.

As we were talking about possible areas to grow, she said, “You know there’s this one program we have that is really good, but we can’t seem to get any traction. In fact, our Executive director and our director of development were talking about this recently and how we need to get this going.”

It was like a lightbulb moment going off in both of our heads. I told her that if we repackaged the offer and put some Facebook ads behind it they could grow that service 10x.

As a fundraiser, marketer, or development person, your job is to bring in revenue for your organization. However, the way you think about revenue could be hampering your ability to drive new dollars, donors, and program revenue.

In their case, they were charging an up-front fee for a service and then adding a monthly fee for ongoing case management.

As we talked about this, I could see that their offer lacked a strong value proposition. We had to reposition the offer in such a way that gives front-end value that connects the constituent to the idea of continuously pay for the service.

Basically, their front-end offer was scaring people away and didn’t lead people to want to continue with the service.

What’s more was that the people who were responsible for “selling” this service were all social workers.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a social worker I would buy from. They’re wonderful people. They make a lot of nonprofits go round and their work should never be dismissed or belittled.

However, they are people, people. Known more for care, and less for their ability to make sales.

So, guess what the organization had?

1.     An incredible program that was being underutilized
2.     The wrong people trying to “sell” it.
3.     Inconsistent ability to bring in new leads.

Because I’m a fundraiser at heart, I do think about revenue, but what’s sad about this is that this incredible service is not being taken advantage of because the offer is all wrong.
How many more people could they help if we were able to help them with their packaging and reconfigure the offer so that the constituents see the value and take part in the service for the long-term?

When nonprofits mess this up, they aren’t just losing revenue.

They are losing social good. They are hindering the very good that they want to do in the world.

Bad marketing goes so much deeper than fundraising. It hits the core of what you do as a nonprofit.

You can have the best services in the world.

You can have the best care, quality of doctors, best paintings, best experience for children, best advocates, but if you CAN NOT communicate your value, people have no reason to engage your services or give you a donation.

Think about that.

There’s probably hidden revenue in your organization right now. There are probably hidden services that more people should be taken advantage of, if you could get your value and offer right.

If I were you, here’s how I would fix that:

1.     Discover underutilized services

Make a list of services your organization does well, but are being underutilized. Sometimes it’s because there is a lack of demand.

But, other times it’s because we don’t know how to package the offer and present its value to our constituents.

Think through the services that your leadership is talking about. Think about the ones that people love and send cards, notes, testimonials about. Are you really maximizing your reach with these? Could you serve more clients with those services?

2.     Create a path of least resistance  

Write out the path that people use to get to that service.

Do they find it on your website? If so, how many clicks until they find it? You must create a path that has almost no resistance to get as many people as possible interested.

If you have a service that sells an hourly consultation for caretakers, you will sell very few of them. Consider offering free consultations first. Instead of spending hours with the person, offer a 15-minute consultation where YOU ask questions.

Then, you make the offer for your service. Until that happens, there is no trust and your offer is out of sequence. Moreover, you can’t fully serve them if you just offer a paid consultation. They will “buy” your time for an hour or two, then move on. This gives you zero chance to make them a long-term client because they don’t see any value in retaining your services.

3.     Chart a course for success

You have to think about your offer from the constituent’s perspective. Think through every part of the process from how they learn about your offer to the fulfillment of the offer. We like to use a whiteboard and markers to do this in our office.

We draw a horizontal line from left to right. We put the person on the left side of the line. This is them in their current state. Then, on the other side, we draw the same person with a happy face.

Then, we draw vertical lines that cross through the horizontal line. These lines represent all of the hurdles the constituent needs to go through from hearing about your offer to engaging and receiving transformation from the services.

What are the hurdles they must overcome? Those hurdles are where you will encounter the most friction that keeps them from engaging your service and receiving the success they want from your program.

For example, if your nonprofit was offering a service to help elderly get from their home to the doctor’s office and back. Draw that person on the left side with a sad face, because they need your help. Then draw them on the right side with a happy face.

What are the steps you need to take to get them from sad to happy?

4.     Validate, scale, and go deep 

At Converge, we are huge fans of the Lean Startup method. This method uses the validate, scale, and go deep phases to build businesses and organizations.

When you chart this new course, you need to focus on running experiments that help validate your assumptions. If you assume that you will get more people into your program by advertising it as a free service, then test that assumption.

Once you’ve validated your offer, then you can scale it. In our world, that means advertising and marketing to help people understand the value of the service. You can also use advertising when you are validating. For example, why not run a Facebook ad to a survey to see what services your constituents are most interested in?

Finally, it’s time to go deep and understand what needs to be fixed to maximize the capacity of your program. This is where you put on your analyst hat and look at everything from your marketing to the execution of your services to ensure you are accomplishing what you desire to accomplish.

Look…these four steps won’t save your organization. But, if followed closely, they could unlock program revenue that you had no idea existed.

In fact, most of the money problems nonprofits struggle with have nothing to do with a lack of donations.

It’s a lack of perspective.

Shift your eyes to unlock your programs, now. Please. We need you to do this so more people can get help from what your nonprofit is really good at.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to go it alone. Let’s hop on a call next week and talk through one of your programs so we can help you unlock that revenue. I guarantee we will give you a fresh perspective on these programs and how to package them.

I literally only have 4 spots left in the next few days. Lock in your spot here: