Every marketing team has challenges, but I might argue that nonprofit organizations have more than most. Not only do most nonprofits struggle with tight resources and small teams, but they also rely on the good will or generosity of others for their continued success—rather than sales of a product or service. How can you successfully get people to donate time, money, goods or services when all are struggling in their own ways? How do you start and, more importantly, how do you continue?
What is Nonprofit Marketing?
Nonprofit marketing is the use of marketing tactics and strategies to amplify an organization’s cause and mission, solicit donations and attract volunteers and supporters. If you thought that sounded time-consuming and tiresome, you would be right. Some people dedicate their entire lives to these organizations, leaving very little time for themselves. They see the greater good and work to achieve it.
Nonprofit marketing works by serving multiple functions, all operating to keep a charitable organization running. These functions include:
- Creating awareness. Like any business brand, a nonprofit must make its audience aware of the organization itself and the causes it supports.
- Promoting a cause and services. Donors, volunteers, recipients and the public at large need to know what’s going on.
- Fundraising. Most nonprofits rely on donations in order to achieve their objectives. This can take many forms, which we will touch on later.
- Encouraging memberships and recurring donations. Again, nonprofits rely on donations, and one way this is done is through long-term memberships which increase the relationship between the donor and the organization.
- Engaging volunteers. Most nonprofits need people to take action or participate in initiatives as well as donate.
- Driving political and social change. Skillful nonprofits can put pressure on opinion leaders, politicians and ordinary people to create social and political changes that address the nonprofit’s causes.
Types of Nonprofit Marketing
No matter your organization’s specific goals, most campaigns fall into one of four categories. These are traditional fundraising, consumer charity, message-focused campaigns and event marketing.
Traditional fundraising asks consumers to make a monetary donation to a cause. Some businesses partner with nonprofits to create long-term fundraising around causes their employees care about and want to support.
Consumer charity is a partnership with a for-profit business that encourages consumers to use their purchasing power to assist charitable organizations. If you’ve been asked to donate a dollar to United Way or the American Heart Association when you’re in the checkout line buying soap and chips, that is consumer charity in action. The nonprofit isn’t directly asking for funds, but they are benefiting from your retail purchase habits.
Message-focused campaigns attempt to build brand awareness, encourage political change or affect consumer behavior. These are typically paired with or followed by specific fundraising or volunteer sign-up campaigns.
Event marketing is focused around a single charitable drive or promotional event, usually where donations will be collected or with ticket costs going directly to the organization. These are often paired with a special guest or celebrity partner whose public image and connections are used to drive attendance. In Cape Girardeau, one of the largest events of the year is the Vintage Now Fashion Show, which features local women dressed in themed and styled vintage clothing. This event strives to bring awareness to domestic violence all while raising much-needed funds for Safe House for Women.
Best Practices = Larger Donations
Nonprofits don’t have it easy. There are many things working against them, yet these organizations still thrive. We recently passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 spreading across the country and world, and there are millions of people who continue to suffer from the financial struggles that were placed on our country.
Yet, donations still come in.
Volunteers still show up.
Nonprofits still thrive.
There are a few social media and email marketing best practices to keep in mind when adjusting to the post-COVID world we will remain in for years to come.
- Get to know your donors. By doing this, you start to gain a deep understanding of your donors and what inspires them to give. How do you know who you’re targeting if you’ve never given it any thought?
- Use visual storytelling as often as possible. According to Hubspot, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, so including graphics into your story makes it much more compelling and engaging. It also reminds people that your efforts are helping real individuals and not just some faceless organization. You can do this by using photos, videos, infographics, vlogs and more!
- Not all social media platforms are created equal. If I was a betting gal, I’d bet your nonprofit was on some social media site. After all, social media is one of the most powerful tools you can use to reach and engage with your audience. However, you have to understand that not all platforms are the same. Each has its own purpose, value, function and audience. Do a little research on each channel before you decide to focus your resources on it.
You don’t have to do this alone. If you are a nonprofit in need of marketing assistance, Rooted Web is here for you. Our dedicated marketing team is constantly reading up on new tips and tricks to get your best foot forward. Let’s chat!
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