Strategy First, Content and Tools Second

ChessThe saying “content is king” has long been a dictum of web design, referring to the importance of desirable, engaging information to a website’s success, as recently affirmed in this CNET report.

But in nonprofit membership and constituency development, it’s strategy – not content (or message for that matter) – that rules.

Don’t get me wrong; content and message are hugely important. But if your message, not guided by strategy, doesn’t get to the right people, doesn’t elicit the right response, or simply doesn’t get noticed, then you’ve accomplished nothing.

Likewise, the tools we use to convey our messages also take a back seat to strategy. We all know this … or at least we used to. Even small development offices now have a Facebook page, a Twitter presence, maybe even a blog. (Currently, over 30,000 nonprofits are using Facebook Pages.)

But if you ask a nonprofit’s staff and volunteers why they’re spending 20 hours a week texting and tweeting and whatnot, you’re as likely to hear “because we heard that’s what we’re supposed to do” as you are to hear the better answer: “because it’s a measurable part of our constituency-building strategy.”

Who would have thought that our powerful new communication channels and techniques would also have the power to cause mass amnesia when it comes to the basic tenets of membership development and marketing?

The fact is, to truly be on the cutting edge of membership development, you don’t need to be a direct mail, social media, telemarketing, DRTV or mobile media expert, because those are just the tools. What you need to be is a strategist.

And great membership development strategy begins with just three simple questions:

  1. What do you want to say?
  2. Who do you want to say it to?
  3. What do you want to have happen?


Ask yourself these questions often, and your inspired messages and original use of the tools available are sure to follow.


Add a Comment