Speakers Will Bring Their Best Marketing Ideas to Grassroots.org Events

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Times are tough for some organizations, understanding the new media can boost a group's bottom line

Though your organization is called a nonprofit, it still needs money to survive.

A group with the grand vision of making technology more accessible to cash-strapped groups will host a series of how-to workshops in New York City in August. For nearly a decade, Grassroots.org has provided non-profit organizations with free technology and marketing assistance. Today the group has more than 4,000 members.

The workshops, scheduled every Thursday in August, will help nonprofits unlock resources that could help them succeed on the web and beyond, said Alice Luu, executive director of Grassroots.org.

“The workshop series is targeted toward nonprofits that don’t have the capacity to or know how to build marketing strategies, or how to start up a public relations plan or social media,” she explained.

Grassroots.org has more than 200 members in the New York area.

“We want to meet with volunteers, nonprofit professionals and our supporters, and provide an intimate opportunity for them to learn and network amongst each other,” Luu said.

Different topics will be discussed each Thursday, she added.

The first presenter on Aug. 4 is Catchafire, an organization focused on connecting skilled professionals with nonprofits in need of their services.

For some nonprofits times are tough, and properly leveraging pro bono resources can boost a group’s bottom line, Catchafire Community Manager Ruti Wajnberg said.

“We identify needs for organizations and we structure projects to make it easy for the professionals,” Wajnberg said in a telephone interview.

Catchafire volunteers have assisted nonprofits in the New York area with projects related to finance, marketing, public relations, social media, fundraising and many other fields.

“We have found that a lot of professionals want to give in this way,” Wajnberg said.

Each month the group trains nonprofits in “pro bono 101,” she explained.

“It’s something that I think organizations do not think about enough,” Wajnbuerg said. “Managing your volunteers or your pro bono professionals is not as simple as it seems.”

She said New York City has the second lowest volunteer rate in the nation.

“We’re trying to change that here in New York,” Wajnberg said.

Eric Mohr is scheduled to speak Aug. 11. Mohr operates EBM Direct Marketing Services LLC. He is an expert at online and offline marketing and helped Grassroots.org triple its website conversion rate, Luu said.

“Nonprofits are a business, they’re just a non-profit business,” Mohr said in a telephone interview.

Making payroll and keeping the lights on costs money, which means nonprofits must focus on why their efforts are marketable, he explained.

“The type of advertising that I provide is performance driven,” Mohr said. “Instead of having a marketing list, we’re using keywords. Instead of having paper, we’re using digital.”

Many nonprofits are not sure where to turn when it comes to marketing themselves using technology.

“I will be speaking about various digital and offline solutions nonprofits can utilize by directing financial resources to media returning the highest return on investment,” Mohr said. “The overall objective is to learn how to test various forms of direct response media and through analysis, target those returning a positive ROI.”

For nonprofits operating in survival mode in a down economy, Mohr said the information he will present is key to using dwindling financial resources as efficiently as possible.

“I want them to focus on what is out there for small and midsized companies,” Mohr said. “I’ll be discussing search marketing, email marketing, direct mail, promotional products and mobile marketing.”

Meanwhile, those who attend the workshop on Aug. 25 will hear from Josh Abdulla, CEO of LetGive.

“We work with nonprofits and application developers, and we help nonprofits raise money through the use of technology and applications,” Abdulla said.

Most nonprofits he encounters know they need a slick app to succeed in the competitive world of fundraising.

“They want to have a mobile application, but it costs way too much for them to develop it,” Abdulla said.

Mobile apps are used by nonprofits to collect money, increase their engagement with contributors and gather information about potential donors. Using mobile applications, LetGive connects for-profit companies that believe in certain causes with the nonprofits that support the movements.

Each Grassroots.org workshop is scheduled from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Culture Fix, located at 9 Clinton Street in Manhattan. Details about tickets will be posted on Grassroots.org’s website in the next few weeks.

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