Marketing in the nonprofit world brings unique challenges. Those that are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the nonprofit space may find themselves struggling to get their message across, find the right audience, and more. The good news is that there are simple action items that any nonprofit, regardless of size, can implement to smooth out their marketing strategy and expand their reach.
When polled, the Your Business Marketer team came up with the comprehensive list below. For many of these points, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Should you find yourself needing a greater level of assistance, we are here to help. To the list!
Image & Branding
1. Consider a rebrand. While you might not need to overhaul everything, like your logo, it can be good to get back to your roots and take a close look at where you began and where you are going next. Priorities shift and you may find over time that your brand needs to realign with your renewed purpose.
2. Establish your “why.” Most nonprofits know how they are going to enact change, but few do a good job of vocalizing why they got started and how their mission will impact the world around them. Being able to articulate your “why” will help you more easily connect with prospective donors and expand your organization’s footprint.
3. Distill your purpose into a tagline. Take a play out of the for-profit world for a moment and think of iconic brands. Nike’s “Just Do It” is a perfect example. Being able to encapsulate your mission into a single sentence will help you connect with your audience without a dissertation.
4. Share your objectives and results. This should go without saying, but transparency is critical in the nonprofit world. Donors expect you to be responsible with their money. The more that you can show them how each dollar is being used, and the goals you’re meeting, the more likely they will continue to support your cause.
5. Invest in storytelling. Marketing is nothing more than creative storytelling, yet many nonprofits miss the mark in this regard. Your story is the best way to connect with like minded people. And it is those individuals who are most likely to donate and become advocates.
6. Plan your marketing strategy like a 1980s roadmap. You might know where you are going, but things come up, just ask Clark Griswold. The better prepared you are when things veer off course, the easier it is to pivot.
Technology & Media
7. Update your website and Google My Business Listing. We could write an entire article on the importance of your digital footprint. Regularly updating your website will not only make it easier for prospective donors to find your organization but it should also give them quick access to supporting your cause.
8. Devote resources to social media. Social media should be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. The challenge for many organizations is that it takes time and resources to pull off a proper social media marketing strategy. If you don’t have the time or energy, find someone that does or outsource to get the most out of these platforms.
9. Write a blog. Let us clarify, write a professional blog that establishes you as an authority in your sphere of influence. These don’t have to be long, but regularly posting a blog will help you stay connected with your donors and will help drive traffic to your website when it helps your SEO rankings.
10. Make your copy stand out. Avoid the urge to copy and paste what others in your area are doing when it comes to newsletters, blogs, or social media. Yes you can use these as a barometer to judge how you stack up, but it is OK to be different. People recognize authenticity and it will help your organization grow.
11. Use multi-channel marketing. Don’t get us wrong, Facebook is great. But it is far from the only option for marketing. Consider both online and offline resources. Doing so will help you reach different audiences. If you aren’t used to working through multiple marketing channels, consult with a professional team.
12. Don’t forget your CTA’s. Any piece of content that you create should have a very clear call to action. Your audience wants to know what the next logical step is in the process. CTA’s are like a beacon that will help increase donations and amplify your fundraising efforts.
13. Leverage video. Content is king, and video is the ruler of them all. Unlike 20 years ago, you don’t have to have a professional crew to produce compelling video content. In fact, your smartphone is more than capable of helping you create amazing content.
14. Reduce mailing costs. Unbranding is a popular choice for many budget conscious nonprofits. While it may seem counterintuitive, sending out correspondence in plain white envelopes will help you save money in the long run. And every penny counts.
15. Batch print. If you know that you will need flyers, or other promotional materials printed, do it all at once. Most print shops will offer you a discounted rate saving you time and money. This is where your roadmap comes in handy. Strategize so that you can stay ahead of the game while reducing costs.
16. Explore the “Donate Now” feature on Facebook. Multi-channel strategy aside, Facebook is a particularly powerful tool. Nonprofit organizations can even apply to get a special donation button on their Facebook page. All you have to do is apply for a review.
17. Budget and don’t budge. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but for most marketing strategies there are creative ways to cut costs and still achieve your goals.
18. Partner with local businesses. Most local businesses are more than willing to help nonprofits in their area. This strategy may shift from one of a “we will take anyone that will partner with us” to a much more strategic course of action over time.
19. Tap into Amazon Smile. Did you know that you could get your donations delivered by Amazon drones? Ok that might be a stretch but they do offer a great opportunity for nonprofit organizations through Amazon Smile. In a nutshell, purchases made by your supporters will trigger a .05% donation to your organization, and there is no additional cost to the buyer. Once you are set up, direct your team, supporters, and strategic partners to help you boost donations.
20. Apply for Google Grants. Let’s face it, advertising costs can add up quickly. Luckily for nonprofits, Google Grants offers up to $10,000 monthly to help cover advertising costs. The application process isn’t difficult, but the YBM team is more than happy to assist.
21. Sell branded merchandise. Branded merchandise isn’t a new strategy, but it still works. For nonprofits this can be a great low cost way to advertise. Better yet, the people repping your swag are also going to be vocal supporters that will help you spread your message.
22. Ask supporters to set up birthday fundraisers. Chances are you have seen these fundraising staples on Facebook and other social media platforms. Simply ask your supporters to help you out. They get the Instagram warm and fuzzies and your organization in turn gets exposure and additional donations. Win/win!
23. Use personalization strategically. If you can personalize every email, DM, and handwritten note, great. For those of us that are mere mortals, personalizing takes time. In this world time is money. Pick and choose how and when you will send personalized messages.
24. Find your brand evangelists. You know the folks, the ones that are your ride or die. That will ride into a hurricane on a unicorn made of lightning. Whoa, almost got carried away there. These advocates are essential to growth and can help amplify your marketing message, especially on social media.
25. Dive into data, then do something with it. Just about everything in marketing generates data and you can slice it a million ways. Decide what data matters to your organization and let it guide you.
26. Bring offline donors online. This is sometimes easier said than done, but if you are able to get those brand advocates that are strictly offline into the online space, it can help you tap into new audiences that were previously out of reach.
Strategic Partnerships and Donors
27. Create welcome packages. Something as simple as a thank you letter and a bumper sticker can have a lasting impact. Sure you can go overboard, but those funds are better used in other areas of your organization. Just remember that it is the thought that counts.
28. Offer recurring donation options. Even the most loyal donors will forget to donate from time to time. Why not make it easy for them through the use of recurring donations. Set them up on a monthly cycle and let them choose how much they will donate each month. Simple, but highly effective.
29. Don’t spam your mailing lists. It might seem straightforward, but we have seen it a thousand times. You love your message and you want to be transparent. That is great, but you don’t want to wind up in your audience’s junk email folder. Be strategic in how often you message.
30. Be transparent with how money is being spent. Some nonprofits are better at this than others, and that is OK. The key is that when marketing to your donors and partners, let them know that their dollars are being put to good use. If you are falling short on a fundraising goal, that transparency can help you make up the difference.
31. Be timely with follow-ups. Donors like to know that they are working with a top-notch organization, and those that fit into that category prioritize great communication. Don’t push off communication, doing so can damage your relationship with your supporters.
32. Host regular events and contests. While these can be done in a variety of ways, social media provides the perfect opportunity to create engagement and allow you to celebrate those that are making your mission a reality.
33. Find opportunities to speak in public. Look for local events, even if they don’t draw enormous crowds, they can open doors that you might not even know existed. Take a step further by live streaming it on your social media channels.
34. Keep your database clean. Whether you are working off of an Excel spreadsheet or through a CRM, keeping your mailing and contact lists up to date is vital. Failing to do so will cost you time and money, especially if you are sending out direct mail campaigns.
35. Track communication to improve. We already touched on data, but this one deserved a spot on this list all on its own. Email is a great way to remain connected with your supporters, but you have to know if your message is falling on deaf ears. Monitor open and bounce rates to help you nail your message.
Refresh Your Marketing Approach
Whether you are a veteran marketer with years of nonprofit experience under your belt, or you are new to the position and still trying to find your way, taking a step back from time to time and evaluating your progress is essential. Sometimes you may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Rather than let your frustrations compound, consider working with a professional marketing team.
The Your Business Marketer team has decades of experience working with nonprofit organizations. We have helped with everything from rebranding to web design and beyond. Connect with our team today for a consultation: 800-499-1996.