10 Strategy Tips To Effectively Market Your Nonprofit
Some pointers for marketing your nonprofit.
Previously a method used for guaranteeing good business, marketing has become an essential tool for nonprofits in the growing online world. Nonprofits face very specific challenges in the marketing space. Here are some tips on improving your strategy to help your nonprofit navigate those challenges.
1. Know your organization.
It seems obvious but an important first step to marketing your nonprofit starts with knowing who you are as an organization. What is your nonprofit about? What good are you trying to do? What is your cause? These questions may already have established answers, but are they clear? Knowing your organization and what you have to offer is at the core of successfully marketing it. Keep in mind that you may know what your nonprofit is about, but your audience (the users) will not. See it from their perspective and always treat it as if you are speaking with someone new.
2. Know your audience.
The next step is figuring out who you want to attract and serve. Who are you hoping to draw in? Why? Your audience is crucial as they will be the building blocks in marketing your nonprofit. Figure out who they are and make meaningful relationships with them.
Also, talk with the people who are working with you for your cause (partners, volunteers, interns, supporters); touch base with them and ask them what they think your organization is about. This is to ensure that your message is coming across the way you want it to. An easy way to determine your audience is by installing Google Analytics on your website. Google Analytics provides demographic (i.e. where website visitors are from) and behavior data (i.e. how often they visit) from users who visit your website.
3. Tell your story.
Consider your nonprofit mission statement. What makes your organization different from the rest? The core of your cause will definitely influence the kind of Mission Statement you will create, whether it may be short and sweet, straightforward and concise, emotionally-driven, or a combination of these.
Save the Chimps offers up a straightforward approach: “To provide and build support for permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment, and pet trade.”
Or you can look to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF for an approach that may be longer but more emotionally-driven: “'Doing whatever it takes to save a child.' Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF is a global humanitarian relief organization providing children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's humanitarian relief work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Despite extraordinary progress, 22,000 children still die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood."
Whatever you settle on, keep your cause at the heart of the story, and always get feedback from those around you to ensure a quality Mission Statement that expresses who you are as a nonprofit.
Take into account what your nonprofit has at its fingertips and what outlets it can use to gain more. Stay sharp. Create a plan and timeline detailing how much money you will need and where it will be used. Assign a specific person or group of people to a team and give them each a specific role in managing the budget, such as research or distribution of budgeting materials (which could be used to detail operational costs such as earned revenue, insurance, and fundraising reports). Give an individual the leading role to ensure that there is accountability established to get the job done to avoid mismanagement of your nonprofit's finances.
5. Gather your materials.
Sounds elementary, but a student is only as good as the tools it has and how they use it. Bring them together and choose which ones suit your nonprofit and implement them. Some examples include: reports, newsletters, brochures, emails, a donation page, advertising outlets (such as Google Grants), social media, and your nonprofit’s website. If you are just starting out, see our next step.
6. Create a full responsive website.
No type of organization in today's world can function without a full responsive website. Having a full responsive website means that your website is easy to navigate, is accessible across all devices (tablets, cell phones, desktop computers) as far as image size and resolution, and has very few places for users to pan and scroll, all through the use of methodical images and layouts.
Once that website is in place, make sure it is full of concise and useful information with ways users can contribute. Find ways to bring visitors back through updates and ongoing campaigns or fundraisers, like through emails and newsletters, and by making it shareable through social media.
If your nonprofit is looking to build a responsive website we suggest using Webflow. You can build a beautiful, clean, engaging website without having to write one piece of code. This website was actually built using Webflow, we highly recommend it!
7. Make the most of your newsletter.
Your nonprofit newsletter is another productive way to reach out to your audience and to market your nonprofit and knowing the best practices out there will ensure its effectiveness. It is very common for users to visit your website and click around a page or two. However, more often than not they will leave your site without donating or subscribing to your e-newsletter. Your e-newsletter should be the focal point of your website. Keep in mind that most people will not donate the first time they visit your website; encouraging them to subscribe to your newsletter will not only call on them to return, but will also build a relationship with them by keeping them in the know about your nonprofit. We recommend sending out a newsletter every two weeks as typically it will take around 7-8 newsletter articles read by users to convince them to donate.
8. Make use of social media.
The rule of thumb in the online marketing world is that the more platforms your nonprofit uses, the more exposure it gains. But be realistic! Again, as always, keep your audience's, the users, demographic in mind when deciding which social media platforms are right for your nonprofit. For example, Instagram boasts users that fall within the teen and young adult range, where Facebook tends to appeal to the middle aged demographic and is usually used by parents. Twitter attracts a mixed demographic but is focused mostly on updates.
Managing your nonprofit on social media requires a lot of work and thrives on consistency. Keep up with it, keep the communication lines open with your audience, and keep your pages visual and dynamic. Keep your audience engaged and involved. But remember that if you don't have the resources to manage multiple social media channels, it's better to just pick one or two and go with it.
9. Testing testing. 1,2,3!
You could have the best looking website or the most dynamic presence on social media compared to other nonprofits, but that's not the only thing that will guarantee marketing success for your nonprofit. Run through your tactics and strategies. If you can't see where visitors, donors, and contributors get confused or hung up when navigating your website, donation pages, or other outlets, you may be losing quality donations.
So how can you figure all that out? We suggest using Crazy Egg, which will help you determine why users are clicking away by showing you the specific problem areas on your website, and at a low price too.
10. Build a recurring donation program.
Marketing your nonprofit cannot work without some sort of funding, one of the biggest sources of income being donations. In order to power your marketing strategies (and other areas of your nonprofit), having an online recurring donation program in place would be a big help. An online recurring donation program would allow your nonprofit to collect small periodic donations online and would give credit to those who are contributing to your nonprofit everyday.
One of our favorite examples of a recurring donation program is charity:water's Pipeline. They provide images and videos that are broken down piece by piece showing how each donation will help and go towards their cause. Watch the video below and take a look for yourself or you can view their recurring donation program here.
Building a recurring donation program can be very complex, so we wrote an entire article on how to build an online recurring program from scratch to help you out. If you already have an online recurring donation program in place, but would like to make it even better, take a look at our article on how to improve your online donations.