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Jastine Lumbres
by Jastine Lumbres

10 Tips To Avoid Major Nonprofit Marketing Mistakes

Dodge those marketing trip-ups.

Marketing is one of the most integral aspects of a nonprofit organization. Putting together a nonprofit marketing strategy, let alone managing it so that it is successful can be a daunting task, especially for a nonprofit organization.  Make your job easier by taking a look below at some of the things we think you should avoid in marketing your nonprofit.

1. Your message is not clear.

There are many avenues where people can learn about your nonprofit, but only you are the ones who can completely communicate the heart and soul of your organization. That being said, your message needs to be understandable. If it is confusing and poorly written, it may scare off potential donors and supporters and make you lose credibility within the nonprofit world itself. Make sure that your messages and written content (from mission statements to tag lines to nonprofit newsletters) are specific and detailed in order to separate you from similar organizations. What is it that your nonprofit does or what approach does it take to your cause that makes it different from other nonprofits? Answer that question and put together a messaging strategy that is 100% you.

2. You don't differentiate your brand from similar organizations.

This is continues the conversation started by the point above. Take steps to legally protect your nonprofit’s brand. Because certain colors are associated with specific issues (pink for breast cancer, red for HIV/AIDS, to name two of the most recognizable), it’s tempting to construct your brand around that template, and that’s okay. But find more subtle ways to distinguish your nonprofit from the others, like using a muted or a different shade of the working color template (logos should only use two colors, max) or by using a different font in your logo’s lettering. If you are changing or re-purposing your brand, try to keep it within similar parameters , like using the same color scheme, so that when donors return to your nonprofit they won’t think that you’re another organization or a different one entirely.

This brand confusion can cost your nonprofit potential donors, who may confuse it with another nonprofit. This may lead to them donating them instead of you, or dismissing your nonprofit completely.

3. You have a lack of responsiveness.

By this we mean having an outdated website. Pull yourselves out of the past and invest in a revamp of your website by making it responsive with engaging branding and design. Responsive websites are reported to have a 34% higher conversion rate compared to those who are out of date. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and tested across all devices. All these things taken together will increase engagement with donors and increase the likelihood of donations.

4. You depend too much on social media to promote your nonprofit.

Social media cannot be the only channel you pursue in getting exposure for your nonprofit. Don’t forget to use blogging, press releases, and articles as other options to drive traffic to your nonprofit and your website. On the other end, not being present enough on social media, meaning not posting regularly or consistently can also hurt your nonprofit. Creating good content is essential to social media success; balance must also be achieved, don’t just bombard your audience with the facts or statistics, treat them to a story.

Nonprofit Hub suggests that when using social media to promote your nonprofit, work in thirds:

- 1/3 talks about your organization and focuses on generating donations

- 1/3 shares stories and testimonials while highlighting other similar organizations and sharing important news in the industry or nonprofit sector

- 1/3 fluff and fun content to touch on the human aspect of your organization, like showing behind the scenes photos or videos of volunteers and staff at the office or at fundraisers

5. You are inconsistent and lack balance.

Not maintaining uniformity across all channels (website, social media, messaging, etc.) will not only confuse donors but keep them from contributing. This inconsistency can even make those within your organization lose sight of your mission. Don’t forget to connect all programs and projects back to your mission, your cause. It’s easy to put out fundraising materials asking for donations but be sure that they’re always going back to the center of things: your mission. Participate in a balancing act between asking for contributions and educating your audience about the cause.

6. You have poor budgeting.

Nothing kills a nonprofit faster than not having enough funds to carry on. Make sure that your financing team is on top of creating a budget for marketing. Foster a good relationship with them so that communication and teamwork is not compromised. Marketing alone can be a resource drainer, so be diligent in budgeting that effort.

7. You don't do enough with public relations.

Devote some time and resources to advertising for your nonprofit. Your budget, especially for fundraisers and new campaigns, should include a messaging program or putting the word out there through the proper channels. If resources are thin or if you want to explore another advertising channel, take a look at Google Grants, which was created with nonprofits in mind. With Google Grants your nonprofit stands to gain $10,000 dollars in free advertising credit using approved keywords.

8. You have limited engagement.

Open up your communication lines and keep them open. Engage with your supporters and donors; engage in conversation with them across all your channels (email, social media, website, etc.) and encourage them to converse with each other by making sharing your content convenient and easy. Recognition and continuous gratitude for donor participation and contribution should be deeply entrenched in all of your messaging avenues. Ask donors if they have preferences in terms of communicating with your nonprofit so you can reach them more effectively. Not properly targeting your audience and figuring out the best way to communicate and reach out to them will hurt your nonprofit’s network and donor base.

9. You don't run diagnostics and fail to reevaluate.

This means not actively running tests, collecting data, and taking note of your marketing results. Measure clicks to your website, monitor social media activity, see how many people are actually opening your emails and reading your newsletter. You can’t improve your nonprofit marketing strategy if you don’t know where your problem areas are. Take the time to study the data you collect from all of these and then take the time to reevaluate your approaches and tactics. With statistics from Network for Good such as “16% of your email list will read your emails and look to a social network to see if others are buzzing before they take action,” it wouldn’t hurt your nonprofit to continue evaluating itself and its strategies.

10. You don't have a strategy at all.

The biggest mistake you could make is to avoid creating a nonprofit marketing strategy in the first place. Or perhaps you have already have one in place, but you flip flop between other tactics and are not committed entirely to it. We understand that putting together a strategy is difficult and a large task to take, but it must be done if you want your nonprofit to be successful, move forward, and help your cause.

Side note: Ever heard of Google's nonprofit program?

Did you know Google provides nonprofits with $10,000 per month in free advertising credit? This program is known as Google Grants and it's available to almost every 501c3 nonprofit organization. Learn how we can help you get the most out of the Google Grant program. Click below to get started!
There's a smarter way to do Google Grants.

Jastine Lumbres

Jastine Lumbres
Jastine is Elevate Click's first content writer. She received her BA in English from UC Riverside and Master's in English degree from Claremont Graduate University. She currently lives in Rosemead, CA with her family.

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