here’s a number of fundamentals behind SaaS economics that nonprofits can learn from when looking to increase their fundraising dollars and grow their impact. Nonprofits share a lot of common challenges with startups.

“Startups are under extreme resource constraints and need to figure out how to break through the noise to let their target customers know they have a superior solution for a critical problem.” Sean Ellis

Sound familiar? This resource constrained desperation leads startups to become more innovative than their established competitors – who have the luxury of time and money on their side – giving them have a greater shot at breaking through the noise to get their message heard.

So startups began looking at marketing frameworks that didn’t require much, if any, budget.

Enter the Growth Marketer.

Growth is a legit marketing discipline

You might have heard of a ‘growth hacker’, Sean Ellis coined it a number of years back, and it’s not just for startups. It sounds a bit cheap and jargony sure, but a growth hacker, who uses skills gained in direct response marketing and product management combined with a deep understanding of analytics, can ultimately enable you to create rapid innovation in your product offering based on real data and insights. Growth ultimately puts the customer (or in the case of nonprofits, your supporters) at the centre of your product development.

So what are the specific skills then for someone focused on growth? Brian Balfour describes a T-shaped skill set with three layers:

  1. Base Layer:  These are non-marketing specific subjects that provide a base to build from.
  2. Marketing Foundation: These are marketing subjects that are used across almost any channel.
  3. Channel Expertise: The third layer shows all the different ways you can reach your audience. It’s almost impossible to become an expert in all of the online marketing channels and stay up to date on the latest changes. Each channel is changing so fast and new channels are regularly emerging.  

The T shape basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).

T shaped marketing skillset

Startups require this breadth of knowledge as many haven’t worked out how they need to grow, so having hands on experience across these three layers can help determine where the likely growth trajectory will come from.

The same can be applied to nonprofits who are new to experimenting with different digital channels and tactics. Once you can identify what’s working, you can start to focus your efforts on those channels which are delivering results.

If you’re interested in learning more about growth marketing here’s some of the best resources I’ve found:

Growth Hackers
Over 50,000 posts about growth marketing covering pretty much any topic you can think of. A lot of growth industry experts are active here so the quality of advice and experience is great. It’s free to join – they also have a Projects area worth checking out.

Growth Hacker Kit
Free courses on growth hacking and a really detailed Blog with guest posts from a lot of industry experts.

Churn University
Although this directly covers SaaS topics, nonprofits can take a lot of learnings when you consider that a SaaS trialist can be likened to a one-off donor, and a SaaS subscriber can be likened to a recurring giver. Topics covering  everything from Basic Metrics through to Lifecycle Emails.

Growth Tribe Academy
A curated list of good articles to get you started with most of the topics covered in Growth Marketing.

What are the best performing growth tactics your organisation has employed? Get in touch and let me know, I’d be really interested!

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About Courtney Evans

Courtney Evans is Co Founder and Growth Manager at Funraisin. With a background in digital extending back to the mid 90s, Courtney's covered information architecture, experience mapping, product management, analytics, content & funnel marketing, UX & email. If you'd like to get in touch with Courtney, drop him a line on +61 2 8006 1009 or email courtney@funraisin.co