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Nonprofit marketing: Strategies to grow your organization’s impact

2020-05-26

By: Amelia Wallace

When it comes to marketing, every team has its challenges. Amongst non-profit organizations, however, those challenges can be vast. 

Bound to a tight budget, small teams and few resources to draw from, it may seem near impossible to create a successful marketing strategy to help your organization grow. For some, it may not be clear why a marketing strategy is necessary — you're not working for profit, so why market at all? 

Marketing is more than just getting sales and boosting the bottom line; marketing creates valuable, memorable experiences that positively impact people for the long-term and, therefore, impact your business. 

You may not be looking to use your marketing goals to pull in revenue, but the right strategies will still work to bring in traffic (think new supporters or donors), funds and awareness to your mission.

We've created a quick how-to for creating a non-profit marketing strategy. By following these steps, you can grow your organization's impact, and they won't break the bank.

6 steps to creating a non-profit marketing strategy

1. Set marketing goals

Before you can do anything else, you need to set your marketing goals. These goals should focus on transforming your organization's mission and objectives into actionable items. 

For example, if one of your objectives is to bring clean water to rural areas of a particular country, you should brainstorm three to five marketing ideas for advancing that objective.

One way you could use marketing to advance that objective is to post on social media about your organization and the people you are helping or by sending a weekly newsletter highlighting specific families or individuals impacted by your work.

Once you've brainstormed, you should turn these ideas into goals. These goals should be measurable, with specific steps to help accomplish your overall objective. 

To provide another example, you could state that one of your goals will be to see a 20% boost in traffic to your social media channels by posting X amount of times a week or month and by interacting with X amount of people on those platforms.

2. Create personas

A big part of marketing is understanding your audience, and one of the best ways to do this is to create personas of your donors, volunteers and recipients. 

It's essential to define and understand each of these audiences because your marketing goals and strategies will differ based on which group you are addressing. For example, an email to a donor will have a different message than an email asking for volunteers.

3. Complete research on fundraising psychology

Being successful as a marketer includes having a basic understanding of human sociology and general psychology — when you know why people behave the way they do, you can start to create content they will identify with and respond to positively.

It will do wonders for you to complete research on fundraising psychology, just like researching consumer psychology aids for-profit businesses. This research can help you understand why more people donate when a campaign is closer to reaching its goal or why some people are more inclined to helping an individual than a larger group.

4. Craft messaging

The next step for creating a non-profit marketing strategy is to craft your messaging. This step is similar to creating a jingle or slogan for any business. 

You need to craft a key message that includes all the information your audiences need to hear, remember and hopefully share about your organization. You need to do this ahead of time, as it will help you keep your organization aligned. It will also simplify your marketing while keeping your different audiences organized.

5. Identify strategies and tactics

Although you may want to head straight for this step, setting up your personas and identifying actionable goals will make this step far easier and more successful. At this point, you've answered the who, what and how of your key messages and audiences. 

Now, you will identify which channels you are going to use. These can include social media, email marketing, events, blogs, etc. Once you decide which channels you plan to use, you will work up the strategies and tactics you plan to use on these channels (we'll dive more into strategy specifics in the next section).

6. Measure results

It would be silly to implement any marketing strategy without a plan of measuring its success or failure. Doing this step will help you iron out any kinks and further solidify your non-profit marketing strategy. Regular analysis will help you figure out what is working and what isn't.

Non-profit marketing strategies

The following are the best non-profit marketing strategies that will help you grow your organization's impact. 

Focus on relationships

According to Emily Logan, a longtime activist — as well as a non-profit growth and advocacy strategist — focusing on relationships is one of the most important things a non-profit can do long before asking for anything. 

The emotional connection you make between your cause and potential donors can have a more significant impact on your organization than anything else. 

It's not easy for people to part with their hard-earned money and according to VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, "you can't just expect someone to donate to your cause without bringing value to them first . . . it's an open, transparent conversation and dialogue. You need to respect your target audience."

Capitalize on current events and social trends

One great non-profit marketing strategy is to capitalize on current events and social trends.

Do you know what ALS is? You probably at least recognize the disease simply because of the ice bucket challenge that went viral years ago to help raise awareness of the illness and the search for a cure. The ice bucket challenge became a huge social media trend that everyone was participating in, from grandparents to celebrities. Current events and social trends can be one of the most accessible strategies to utilize when coming up with content marketing ideas.

Work with social media influencers

In tandem with social trends, you should start working with social media influencers. 

"Influencer" is in their title for a reason, some of the biggest names have millions of followers, and you better believe that if Jane from Carlsbad tells all the middle-aged moms to go buy this nifty kitchen gadget now, they're going to do it. People trust individual influencers, and if you can win over a couple who will be able to spread your message, you can make a significant impact.

But, you don't have to take our word for it. Per studies conducted by TapInfluence, "influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing," and "influencer content on social media earns more than 8X the engagement rate of brand-direct content." 

Not sure where or how to engage with influencers? Start by looking for micro-influencers in your local community or within your network and then go for the big dogs.

Incorporate video in content marketing

Videos are a huge part of content marketing today, and it would be a massive loss if you didn't utilize it in your non-profit marketing strategy.

In 2017, HubSpot research found that most people will skim written or audio content, but (more noteworthy) these people were "more likely to pay attention to video content." You've probably already seen other non-profits using this tactic. One great example is Charity: Water's video — This is Pipeline.

Be sure to follow best practices with video — they don't need to be lengthy segments to be successful. Also, video also can be produced quite easily without breaking the bank. Apps like Adobe Creative Cloud are affordable ways for a non-profit to create and edit great video content.

Find ways to automate email and text marketing

Email and text marketing can be powerful tools to have in your toolbox. When people join your email or text lists, it's an indication of their investment — as in they care about your cause and want to support you. 

So, this likely means they're receptive to seeing messages from you in their inboxes. To help you save time, start automating these messages. According to HubSpot research, Boomers and Gen-Xers prefer email or video content, so if they're in one of your audience groups, you need to use email as a tactic.

Follow up after donations

It may feel small, but having someone follow up after donations can take your message a step further with donors. 

It shows you care about them — remember you're trying to build relationships — more than just their donation. According to research from Software Advice, 60% of donors want information about impact stories, and 46% of donors prefer a personalized letter.

Build trust with consistent branding

Consistent branding is a smart practice for any organization, profit, or not.

In a case study between Lucidpress and MHA, MHA's Community Marketing Specialist knew they needed a solution to help unify independent messaging. MHA provides care, accommodation and support services for more than 16,000 seniors throughout Britain. 

By using Lucidpress's branding templates, they were able to streamline their messages and work seamlessly with their local homes, getting more done in less time. Having consistent, easy-to-use branding templates can save you a lot of time in the long run. Templates are easy to use for everyone within your organization and can be completely customizable.

Build your non-profit and your brand

By following these content marketing strategies of building relationships, capitalizing on social trends, working with influencers, incorporating video content, automating email, following up after donations and building trust through consistent brand, you will be able to grow your organization's impact and start to see real results. 

Just as MHA found help with Lucidpress's customizable templates, other non-profits are also finding help with Lucidpress. To learn more, check out how YMCA was able to keep their brand consistent across every location with Lucidpress's lockable templates

Free eBook download

How to amplify your mission

Messaging matters (a lot)! How you market your brand in the crowded nonprofit space makes all the difference in accomplishing your goals. Consistent messaging and strategic partnerships will help you stand out from the rest. Our guide can help you craft the right messaging to amplify your mission and make an impact in your community.

Learn more

Amelia Wallace

Amelia Wallace has been writing content for far too long. Her expertise ranges from home decor to insurance to marketing and beyond. She is an avid movie-goer, retains only the best kinds of useless information, and is the worst to go hiking with since she’s constantly stopping to take photos.

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