Introduction to Nonprofit Marketing
Why Your Nonprofit Needs Marketing
Marketing isn’t only for for-profit businesses. Marketing for nonprofits is about creating a set of tools that help you communicate your mission, raise money through donations or other sources, and build your community of supporters. Effective marketing will help your organization:
- Increase awareness for your cause and organization
- Define and articulate your cause and why it’s important
- Raise more funds by sharing opportunities to donate
- Recruit volunteers
How to Create Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan
1. Get to know your community
Whatever marketing activities you choose to invest time and resources into, it’s important to understand your target audience. What do you know about your audience? Which programs interest them the most? How do they prefer you to communicate with them? Think about the ways you can collect information about your target audiences so you can communicate with them more effectively.
2. Set SMART marketing goals
In order to measure your progress and success, you’ll need to have a clear goal in mind from the start. Set a clear goal for each of your marketing initiatives using the SMART system: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
3. Align your marketing campaigns and goals
When creating your marketing plan consider your campaigns in relation to your audiences and goals. Are you attempting to increase the number of your first-time donors? Are you attempting to recruit a few major donors who give large sums? Those goals are very different. Likewise, those audiences have very different interests, different information needs, and different communication preferences. Your marketing campaigns should reflect those differences and align with your audiences and goals.
4. Consider your budget
To implement your marketing plan successfully, you will need to allocate your resources effectively. Think about your organizational strengths and how you can build on them. Consider your budget and keep in mind that investing in one or two key marketing initiatives when getting started is likely better than spreading your resources too thin across too many channels.
5. Articulate your message
Now it’s time to craft the language that you will use to communicate your message. Consider your audiences and their information needs. Focus on clarity and simplicity. Try writing an elevator pitch about your organization or experiment with the eight-word mission statement as ways to get started. Read your message aloud to see how it sounds. Remember, a marketing campaign is only successful if your audience understands your message.
6. Create your implementation plan
Once you have finalized your messaging, shift your focus to tactics. How exactly will you implement your campaigns? Who is doing what, when, and how? Put together a timeline that will ensure everyone is on the same page. Review your implementation plan to make sure it makes sense in terms of your goals and budget.
7. Evaluate your performance
Now that you’ve put all that work in to developing your plan, don’t forget about evaluating your performance to make adjustments. Is one specific campaign working better than expected? Consider investing more resources to build on that success. If your campaign is doing poorly, what’s not working? Be flexible and ready to adjust your tactics to find what works.
Nonprofit Marketing Basics
Your website is the central hub of your online presence. This is where you display your blog, host video content, link to social media accounts, provide sign-up forms for volunteers, accept donations — and any other ways you engage with your audience.
The content on your website must be clear, easy to navigate, and up to date. Your audience should be able to quickly grasp your mission, your services or programs, and your impact. Identify locations on your site to provide members and donors with an easy way to subscribe to your email lists and to make a donation.
Remember, your website theme should align with the rest of your digital marketing materials. This is especially important for mobile users. Over 70% of internet users will access the web solely via smartphones by 2025. If your website is not designed for mobile, you are losing potential members and donors right now.
Too many nonprofits do excellent work but have poorly designed and maintained websites. Your website is often your first impression to the world. It is also where you will be judged most harshly. Spend the time to make it informative and visually attractive. It is a core piece of your foundation.
Email is a powerful tool to segment stakeholders, communicate what your organization has accomplished, personalize messages, and drive donations. Your email marketing should include a call to action in every message that you send. Donate, sign a petition, share information, fill out a survey — what is the goal of this email? What are you trying to accomplish?
It’s important that you give people one call to action per email. Encourage your audience to take one specific action at a time. Don’t paralyze them with too many choices.
Be strategic with how many emails you send to your donor base. A good number to aim for is between 2-3 messages per month. That target can vary depending on your activities for the month.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide nonprofits with a way to publish smaller bits of content at a more rapid speed. These platforms are built around sharing — perfect for peer-to-peer fundraising — and enable organizations to extend their reach to new audiences. Growing your following on social media can lead to sustained connections with all sorts of donors that wouldn’t necessarily engage with your website or email marketing.
Social media requires a commitment to generating timely, interesting content that is appropriate for a particular platform. For example, Instagram is a picture/video-based platform. Don’t plan on using Instagram if you can’t easily create graphics, pictures, or videos. Make an informed decision about what platforms you are willing to invest in and leverage. Sometimes doing less, but doing it better, is the best decision.