ROI (Return on Investment) is an impressive business sounding term, which means in business, it’s important. If you’re selling widgets then you need to track sales, and knowing how many widgets you sell versus how much you spend on manufacturing, sales, advertising, and marketing is important. But how about nonprofit organizations? In some cases, tracking ROI is very informative. How many water wells did you build based on donations to the project? How many meals did you distribute as a result of the grant? The truth is accountability matters, and particularly when it comes to future fundraising, any opportunity to report your return on investment is a good thing.
But particularly with nonprofit and religious organizations, other important issues matter just as well. Take perception for instance. Standing up for a moral issue matters very little if you’re being a jerk about it. Some nonprofits who pride themselves on protecting the rights of the unborn, religious believers, or minorities, come off as smug, arrogant, and condescending.
Some quite successful religious media ministries regularly teach doctrinal errors. Does the fact that you’re reaching millions of people through the media matter if what you’re teaching them is wrong?
Brand equity is the built up goodwill that an organization has fostered based on superior performance over the long haul. It’s what makes it easier to make a repeat decision to donate or purchase. The Billy Graham organization has it. The Salvation Army has it. Sadly, far too many others don’t.
Perception matters. Particularly in the digital age of instant messaging, email, and social media, word travels fast. The good you do can be easily undone by the wrong perception. Remember – a positive perception is the front door that determines if donors, customers, or your audience will take the next step to listen to your message.
Make the first (and lasting) impression a good one.