Entrepreneur freelancers and nonprofits – kindred spirits

in News

I’m a freelance copywriter.  And I’m also an entrepreneur because I own my business.  And more than once I’ve thought that I have a lot in common with the smaller charities.  Those nonprofits with a development staff of one, two or maybe three people.

How so?  What do I and other small business entrepreneurs have in common with nonprofits?

– Wear multiple hats.

Me . . . I’m responsible for business development, nurturing prospects and clients, marketing, billing, admin tasks, performing work clients hire me to do, etc. 

Small nonprofit employee . . . responsible for fundraising, acquiring and cultivating donors, keeping the board informed and satisfying their whims, marketing, processing donations, managing staff, etc.

– Feel overwhelmed with rapidly evolving technology and marketing tools.

Me . . . How does one person perform client work that pays the bills; read newsletters, blogs and other sources to keep current on events, trends and technology; develop systems to efficiently Tweet, blog, send newsletters, etc.; manage IT issues for the website; and so on?

Small nonprofit employee . . . Essentially the same challenges except you’re creating fundraising strategies, preparing direct mail and email campaigns, and all the same stuff to keep current.

– Need to check business processes with others.

Me . . . I continually check my fee structure, the terms of my letter agreement template with clients, and other business processes with peers.  What are other professionals in my field doing?  Are my business practices fair and reasonable and inline with industry standards? 

Small nonprofit employee . . . What are other nonprofits doing that you can incorporate?  What donor cultivation strategies, email programs, website designs, and so forth would improve your own fundraising results?  What good ideas can you discover from your peers?

I could continue with the comparison but hopefully you recognize the common ground.  I don’t mention this to evoke sympathy.  Rather to point out that I genuinely understand many of the challenges you face.  I know you can’t do everything at once or incorporate everything new the minute it hits the marketplace. 

Instead you need to set priorities and start with the new task that gives you the greatest return.  Start with the new task that still supports your existing fundraising goals and objectives.

And as a small shop, you also need to get input from outside sources on a regular basis.  I attend conferences – both live and online – to keep me connected with other creative consultants and fundraising pros, to keep current, to get an infusion of fresh ideas, and to network. 

That’s not all.  Even though marketing is my profession, from time-to-time I have other consultants take a look at what I’m doing and advise me on how I can improve marketing of my freelance business.  It’s very, very difficult for someone to objectively evaluate them self.  Also,  I’m so close to my own business that I can’t always see where I’m failing to address my client’s needs.

Nonprofits face that same challenge.  You’re so wrapped up in your day-to-day work . . . you know so much about your mission and how you help people . . . you know so much about how your donation processes work . . . that you can’t always see where you leave donors in the dark.  You can’t see the gaps or holes in your messages.  You too will benefit from getting an outsider’s advice on a regular basis.

For example: I’m going to receive an infusion of new ideas and perspectives this Friday and Saturday.  I’m signed up for International Freelancers Day – a FREE online conference for solo professionals.  If you know any freelancers I encourage you to let them know of this event.  It’s being recorded so if they can’t attend every session it can viewed later.

Get the details here on the benefits of attending International Freelancers Day

I believe that as a freelance entrepreneur I’m a kindred spirit of nonprofits, especially the smaller charities.  Together we can forge ahead and help make the world a bit better.