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Nonprofit Marketing: How to Spread Your Message

Nonprofit Marketing: How to Spread Your Message

You are aware that your nonprofit is changing lives. However, what can you do to guarantee that your message gets to the appropriate individuals and encourages them to participate, especially in a crowded field with very little money?

Strategic nonprofit marketing is the answer — sharing your story and demonstrating impact so that it connects with the audience and compels significant involvement. Here are some practical approaches for boosting your nonprofit’s marketing!

The Significance of Nonprofit Marketing

Oxfam Slogan Nonprofit Brand Strategy

A search on Google shows thousands upon thousands of organisations working towards all kinds of causes like poverty, education, health care, human rights or the environment. All this noise can easily drown out our voices, though.

Clever nonprofit marketing goes beyond fundraising (although that is part of it). It involves:

  • Creating awareness about what it is you are addressing
  • Getting people excited about supporting your mission
  • Showing off all the great things that have happened as part of what we do
  • Bringing in donors, volunteers, partners and advocates alike

Great nonprofit marketing can take someone from being just another passive observer into becoming an active fanatical supporter, which works perfectly within this industry fueled by passion and the workforce!

Identifying Your Target Audiences

While identifying your target audiences is crucial, having a tactful fundraising approach is equally important. Engaging current supporters while reaching new ones can vastly improve campaign outcomes.

Before launching any campaign, one must first understand who they hope will see it. There could be several types of people who might want to engage with us because we serve diverse groups within communities:

Primary Audience – These are the folks most affected directly by our cause whose lives would improve if they accessed our services, such as programs or projects designed for their benefit. For instance, youth mentorship programmes may be targeted at-risk teenagers;

Secondary Audiences – These refer those individuals who can contribute materially towards achieving organisational goals through financial donations, volunteering time, etcetera, while also advocating for better policies around these issues either at local or national levels, e.g., individual donors, community leaders, foundations, businesses among others;

Influencer Audiences – These are groups/individuals that possess platforms or voices powerful enough to amplify messages created within specific contexts; actors might include media houses, bloggers, community-based organisations, celebrities, etcetera.

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Once you have identified these broad categories, delve deeper into understanding them based on their age range, gender distribution patterns, psychographics including attitudes towards life generally and our kind of work in particular, as well values held dear by different sections drawn from socio-economic backgrounds represented among others but not limited too because there’s always room for improvement when it comes to knowing your audience!

Establishing SMART Marketing Objectives

Smart Goals

After determining your target market, you must establish specific and measurable goals for your marketing campaign. The SMART method can be used to set objectives:

  1. Specific: Instead of using general terms such as “increase awareness,” say “enhance knowledge about our local community mentorship program.”
  2. Measurable: Rather than having a goal to “get more traffic,” aim for “attracting 5,000 new website visitors within this quarter.”
  3. Attainable: Is this possible with the resources and time frame available?
  4. Relevant: Does it align with other strategic priorities of the organisation?
  5. Time-bound: Don’t just say when you plan on running ads – specify which ones should be launched first, like ‘launch social media ads by June 1st’.

SMART goals are helpful because they keep individuals on track and hold them accountable. They also make ROMI tracking easier while allowing you to show the delivered value across various initiatives.

Examples Of Smart Nonprofit Marketing Goals:

  • Recruit 25 new youth mentors from the local university by the end of the semester
  • Increase email list by 2,000 subscribers over the next six months
  • Secure £25,000 in new corporate sponsorships this fiscal year
  • Generate 500 petition signatures for the policy campaign by July

Telling Your Nonprofit's Brand Story

Having identified your target audience(s) and set objectives now is the time to bring your nonprofit’s brand story alive. A good narrative captures attention, but grand narratives inspire action. Here are some things you can do:

Identify Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

What makes what you are offering different or unique? What needs do others not meet that you do? Let potential supporters know why only you can provide this exceptional value.

Example: ‘We are the only charity in town that combines academic tutoring with family counselling and nutrition support’.

Showcase Beneficiary Impact

People want to see how their involvement changes lives. Share stories that illustrate the difference you make as an organisation.

Example: ‘When Jamal joined our after-school program, his reading level was at 3rd grade, and he struggled to concentrate. Today, he reads above grade level and can’t wait for new books!’

Add Some Personality

Do not shy away from injecting personality into your work! A little humour or idiosyncrasy can create emotional connections with audiences.

Example: “We may be tiny, but we are mighty – helping underserved students succeed academically is what we’re all about! Join us today and find out for yourself.”

Stay True To Yourself

Even as you try being more personable, ensure that whatever tone of voice or message reflects who you are as a nonprofit organisation. People can sense when something seems off, so they always remain authentic in everything they do.

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Finding the Right Marketing Channels

Nonprofit Brand Strategy Social Media Marketing

With your audiences mapped and your brand story crafted, it's time to determine the optimal channels to promote your message. The options are vast:

The key is aligning your channels with your audiences' media habits and preferences. For example, younger audiences may engage better on social while older donors prefer direct mail and email.

An integrated, multichannel approach is most effective for reaching all your key segments. Just be sure to create a consistent, cohesive experience across every touchpoint.

Social Media for Nonprofits

Social media is a must for nonprofits today, allowing you to inspire and engage with supporters where they're already spending time online. Here are a few tips:

  • Choose 2-3 priority platforms based on your audience (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Share a mix of educational, inspirational and campaigning content
  • Make liberal use of visuals like photos and videos
  • Engage your community through questions, contests, live videos, etc.
  • Test paid social ads to expand your reach

Email Marketing Done Right

Email remains one of the most cost-effective channels for nonprofits to mobilise supporters and drive donations. Building a healthy, engaged email list is crucial.

  • Promote sign-ups on your website, social platforms and at events
  • Segment your lists by interests, demographics, etc.
  • Send a welcome series to onboard new subscribers
  • Create an editorial calendar blending updates, stories and calls to action
  • Use captivating subject lines and visuals
  • Analyse metrics like opens, clicks and fundraising conversions

Website and SEO Essentials

Your website is the digital home base for your nonprofit's brand. It should showcase impact through powerful visuals and stories while facilitating engagement.

  • Invest in a clean, mobile-friendly design that highlights calls to action
  • Optimise site content and structure for search engines
  • Promote top website pages on social media and email
  • Use Google Analytics to understand user behavior
  • Capture emails and segment traffic for personalised nurturing

Galvanising Your Community of Supporters

What is your nonprofit’s greatest strength as a marketer? The people who already believe in your mission. Once individuals feel personally invested in what you’re fighting for, they’ll never stop promoting it:

  • Create fundraising efforts that allow supporters to ask for donations from others
  • Establish brand ambassadors who share content and recruit members within their communities
  • Organise advocates who will participate in campaigns and apply pressure to those in power
  • Build online social media communities that revolve around the cause
  • Show your appreciation by identifying and celebrating your most enthusiastic fans

Proving Impact by Illustrating Real-World Results

Nonprofit Brand Strategies Choose Love Campaign

In the charitable sector, good marketing alone isn’t enough; you must also demonstrate measurable change resulting from specific programs or initiatives.

A data-driven approach should be used to set benchmarks, track key metrics over time, and refine strategies based on successes (or failures). Here are some examples of things to measure:

  • Amount raised through fundraising and percentage converted into revenue
  • Number of new donors acquired, number of recurring donors secured, donor retention rate
  • Count of people enrolled in a program or participating in an initiative
  • Volume of hours contributed by volunteers; number registered per event
  • Website visits, email open rates, and social media followers gained
  • Instances where the organisation is mentioned in the press or ad impressions recorded; results from brand awareness surveys conducted
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Data enables optimisation toward higher-impact activities while continuously improving methods to produce better results.

Creating a Results-Driven Nonprofit Marketing Plan

It is time to combine these pieces into a comprehensive marketing action plan. Here’s what you need to do:

– Situation Analysis

Give an overview of who your nonprofit is, what it stands for, its programs, projects, campaign activities, etc. Then, highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

– Target Audiences

Define who exactly you are trying to reach. What do they look like regarding age, gender, occupation or income level? What motivates them most about life, such as their values or interests? Which media tools would work best when targeting this group?

– Marketing Goals & Objectives

Set the goals and objectives that will direct your marketing towards success. Why not use the SMART approach we discussed earlier? Example goals could be: Increase brand awareness by 30%, grow volunteer base by 50%, raise $100k through fundraising events …

– Brand Positioning

What makes you different from other NGOs out there? What are your unique selling points (USPs) that can help attract more donors/supporters/fundraisers, etc.? How can people relate better to our cause while still keeping it interesting?

– Marketing Strategies & Tactics

How do we get our message across people’s minds so they take desired actions, i.e., use conversion rate optimisation (CRO)? Some areas we can cover include:

  1. Digital marketing (i.e. website design, search engine optimisation SEO, pay-per-click PPC campaigns, email newsletter, social media)
  2. Content marketing (blogs, articles, videos, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, infographics etc.)
  3. Events & community outreach (workshops, seminars, conferences, festivals, exhibitions, fairs, carnivals, parades etc.)
  4. Public & media relations( press releases; news features, stories interviews, documentaries)
  5. Direct marketing(mailshots, SMS text messages, telemarketing door-to-door sales)
  6. Traditional advertising Outdoor OOH Print Broadcast TV radio cinema …)

– Editorial Calendar

Map out all your planned activities on a calendar-based system where content and campaigns will be coordinated across different channels.

– Budget & Resources

How much money should you allocate for each program area? Which ones have higher priority than others regarding staff hiring or funding support?

– Measurement Plan

What tools will be used to measure success? How often should reports be generated and reviewed by the management team?

– Implementation Roadmap

What’s the best way of putting everything into effect? Who should do what tasks within which period, and with whose help should the need arise, etc.?

What to Copy from the Greatest Nonprofit Marketing Campaigns of All Time

Nonprofit Marketing Ice Water Bucket Challenge

Need some inspiration for your nonprofit’s next marketing endeavour? Check out these campaigns that rocked it:

The Ice Water Bucket Challenge by the ALS Association

In 2014, the Ice Water Bucket Challenge raised as much as $115 million for research towards finding a cure for ALS. People worldwide poured buckets of ice water over their heads and posted videos online, nominating friends to do the same.

What made this campaign successful?

  • It was easy and fun to participate in
  • Used social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to spread the challenge like wildfire
  • Leveraged celebrity influence (e.g., Bill Gates) to increase visibility exponentially
  • Connected awareness with fundraising
  • Eight weeks were enough!
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Pipeline Product by Charity:Water

This charity realised that its donors couldn’t easily comprehend the idea of clean drinking water being inaccessible worldwide. They started connecting every dollar given online with specific water projects somewhere on Earth so that supporters could track progress through GPS coordinates.

The brilliance lay in making people feel like their money was changing lives directly!

Cloud Endorser Campaign by UNHCR

To mark World Refugee Day, UNHCR developed an ingenious internet-based tool enabling individuals to “endorse” refugees by displaying their names alongside stories about them on separate Facebook accounts.

Doing so raised awareness differently and showed personal faces and narratives tied up within global refugee crises.

Greenpeace, WWF, and UNICEF did many other remarkable cases like these, and they are worth looking into if you’re searching for ideas.

What ties everything together? Novel approaches around connecting individuals with tangible results using creativity plus technology.

Forecasts on Nonprofit Marketing in the Future

With technology, cultural shifts and world events continuing to change the landscape, here are some things nonprofit marketers need to watch for:

Video Content Will Become the King of All

Video is fast becoming the preferred means of communication, from YouTube and TikTok to live streaming. Success with video (for awareness, fundraising, volunteer calls, etc.) will be essential.

Micro-influencer marketing picks up steam.

While megastars have mass reach, micro-influencers in niche communities often inspire higher engagement and trust. Partnering with them might be a cost-effective way to increase visibility.

Social Causes Meet Social Commerce

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram blur the lines between connecting and shopping. Look out for new opportunities for nonprofits to market programs or solicit donations through social commerce.

Increasing focus on transparency

Donors want more accountability and proof of efficiency/impact as institutions face public scepticism. Organisations that can compellingly quantify their effectiveness are ahead of the game.

Multichannel Integration is Essential

People engage across multiple digital platforms & channels throughout their supporter journey. Nonprofits that can deliver seamless, personalised experiences at every touchpoint build stickier relationships.

Nonprofit Marketing FAQs

Still trying to figure out how to do nonprofit marketing that works? We’ve got answers to some common questions about it:

How much should nonprofits budget for marketing?

The answer varies depending on the organisation. However, experts suggest that 5-15% of the budget should be spent on marketing and communications. Smaller organisations may need to pay closer to 20%.

What are some free or low-cost marketing tools for nonprofits?

Google’s G Suite (Gmail, Docs, Drive, etc.), graphic design with Canva, social media management through Hootsuite/Buffer and email marketing using MailChimp/Constant Contact.

Should we hire an agency or keep marketing in-house?

This depends on your resources and needs. Agencies bring expertise but cost more money; in-house staff are cheaper but need skills. Many nonprofits adopt a hybrid model.

How can we make our nonprofit’s story stand out?

Highlight what is innovative or different about your approach. Use strong visuals, directly engage with supporters and focus on showing real human impact.

Which metrics should we track for marketing success?

Keep an eye on website traffic, social engagement, email list growth, volunteer sign-ups/donation amounts (conversion rates), advertising costs per acquisition, etc. Prioritise metrics explicitly tied to your goals.

How do you build a strong email subscriber list?

Promote sign-ups through website pop-up forms/social media/events; offer incentives; consistently share valuable content; regularly clear out inactive subscribers/wrong addresses.

The Bottom Line: Marketing's Power to Inspire Change

Ultimately, strategic marketing for nonprofit organisations is about more than just getting the following grant or donation. It is about motivating people to care and be actively involved in what they believe in.

When campaigns can truly touch hearts through missions, this is where all the efforts pay off. Minds open up, emotions flow, and wallets bulge as individuals join hands with you to bring the positive change you desire.

So let’s do some promoting! Tell your organisation’s story in a creative way filled with enthusiasm. Show impact through actions done on the ground level that others can see and feel around one’s community or world. Start movements driven by engaged supporters with vested interests in seeing things move forward for any cause they associate themselves with.

Many problems are waiting for us out there; however, without publicising them, nobody will take notice nor offer help towards finding solutions, thus making marketing a vital tool which should never be underestimated because it can create the awareness needed plus gather resources necessary for solving real issues within our societies.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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