Nonprofit Marketing is difficult. If you are a Non-Profit Marketer, you know that your NPO has limited resources: little money, scarce time, little to zero equipment.
So Nonprofit Marketers need to be flexible, inventive and creative: Find ways to create large impact with few tools.
In this article, you’ll read creative ways to make the most out of your non-profit Marketing strategy. These tips were shared during Christina Garnett’s The Unconference. During this Twitter Space conversation, speakers from across the entire world shared their most valuable tips for Nonprofits.
Finding alternatives for paid marketing
Whereas for-profits invest money in paid marketing strategies like SEA and Paid Social, Nonprofits often don’t have the budget to invest in paid ads. This means you need to spend your money more carefully, even when you do have the resources to go paid.
If you cannot affort to go all-in on paid, here are some effective free Marketing alternatives:
User Generated Content: Use the voice of your audience.
Word-Of-Mouth is a powerful tool. And User-Generated Content brings you engagement. People love seeing the faces behind NPOs. So encourage your volunteers and donors to share your mission online.
You could write up a document or guide, and show volunteers how they can spread your message online and why their online voice matters. Many people just don’t realize the power of creating and sharing content online, and some volunteers just don’t know when and where they can publish something about your NPO.
Your document could include:
- Your brand identity and your story: Your volunteers and donors get a sense of what you stand for.
- Social Media How-to: Show your stakeholders how they can publish a post on Facebook or Twitter, how they can tag your organization and which hashtags they could use
Make sure to like and engage with those who spread your message online. Thank them for their efforts and encourage them to post more.
Content Marketing: Blogs, Pages and Posts
Learn the basics of Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. The lifespan of blog content and website pages is longer than the lifespan of paid marketing content like advertisements.
Make sure that your content is relevant to your cause and your stakeholders: Write blogs about what your mission, goals, needs, accomplishments and struggles.
Here are some content ideas:
- Do research on the problem you’re trying to solve. Publish your findings in an article.
- Interview one of your voluntary workers and ask them what they do
- Show visible examples of you accomplishing your goal
- Make use of numbers and examples to make your mission tangible for and relevant to others. For instance: X amount of people are living in poverty. This means that they cannot do Y and Z. This is problematic because it leads to A, B and C. Our NPO tries to solve that Problem, So that they will be able to do Y and Z, and that they will feel better. We need X amount of money to do activity 1, 2 and 3. It costs us Y dollars to buy resources for activity 1 (etc,)
Social Media and E-mail Marketing
Keep the donor acquisition costs low. Social Media Marketing and E-mail Marketing are cost-efficient tools to attract and engage donors and voluntary workers.
Cheap Marketing Tools
Search for Cheap Marketing tools: Many Marketing Products (Hootsuite, HubSpot etc.) offer their tools for a reduced price
Cross-Promotional content: Create reciprocity and partner with other companies, NPOs, influencers and individuals. You can set up collabs that are beneficial to both you and your stakeholders.
Don’t lose sight of your mission:
Brianne Fleming used to be a Marketer for a Nonprofit Organization. She noticed that the stress of fundraising is so great, that Nonprofits often lose sight of their own mission. While it is important to be grateful for your donors and give them exposure on your Marketing channels, showing the things you’re doing and showing the reason why you’re doing things is far more important.
So: Don’t just talk about money, but give context to why you need donor money and how your NPO is using that money to solve a problem. How are you spending your money? Who are you serving and how are you changing the world and helping people? Donors are far more interested in knowing how their money is spent.
Example: Jarige Job Foundation:
I once worked for the Jarige Job Foundation. They are serving Dutch families who cannot afford to celebrate their children’s birthday because they live in poverty. Jarige Job’s mission is to solve that problem. To solve that problem, they are packing birthday boxes.
Packing and delivering one birthday box to one Dutch family costs €35,-. And that’s what they communicate as well: If you donate €35,- to Jarige Job, you’re helping one Dutch family celebrate their child’s birthday.
See how it’s not about the money? As a matter of fact, Jarige Job doesn’t communicate how much money is being donated. Instead, they tell us how many birthday boxes they’ve packed over a certain period of time, thanks to all donations and thanks to all voluntary workers. And that’s what matters.
Storytelling tips for your NPO
- Be brief with your storytelling, get your point across quickly and tell what impact others make when they donate. (e.g. €35,- = one birthday or €1,- = one tree planted).
- Show the success stories
- Be transparent in your communication
- Don’t use euphemisms. Nonprofits often are scared to tell other people the harsh facts. But you need to be transparent and direct as possible, or else people won’t understand your exact purpose.
Reducing the attitude-behaviour gap
If you want to turn your passive followers into active volunteers or sponsors, you should make the process of becoming a donor or volunteer as clear, easy and straightforward as possible. Your potential donors shouldn’t have to put a lot of effort into finding out how they can help you. So this means:
- Clearly show volunteers how they can help
- Tell your donors what you will do with their money
- Make the process of becoming a donor as easy as possible.
- Give your donors multiple options to donate: monthly donations, yearly donations, one-off donations, fixed amount of money, or let the donor decide how much they want to donate
- Show the volunteers how they can contribute. They could become ambassadors, they could support your social media strategy, they can give financial advice, they could spend 1 or 2 hours a month educating other people, and so forth.
If you don’t tell your donors and volunteers all the different ways in which they can support you, they will not know how they can help you. As result, they will not help you.
Networking beyond Social Media
Small NPOs often start as a passion project. People start their NPOs to follow their dreams, and sometimes their passion becomes their full-time job. But then they have an issue: They lack the skills, knowledge and network to raise funds and to accomplish their mission. So what to do then?
- Tell your friends and family and ask them for help. And ask them to tell other people about your Non-Profit Organization, your goals and your needs.
- Search for local Non-Profit Associations nearby. These Associations exist to help non-profits get on their feet and moving
- Go to networking events. Meet other non-profits and companies. Maybe you can help each other out. Know this too: Companies don’t necessarily have to donate money, they can help you out with their knowledge and expertise as well. For instance, a Marketing Agency can host a free brainstorm/advice session, or they can help you create some Social Media posts
- Look at local community foundations.
Just connect with other NPOs, Associations, individuals and companies for the sake of connection. Don’t say ‘Hey please donate’ right in their face. Just network, and tell them what your mission is, what your goals are, why, what you’re doing, how you’re helping others, and what you’ve accomplished so far.
To have your Nonprofit Marketing on point, you have must a clear purpose and a clear story that explains your purpose. Tell your audience who you are, what you do, what you’ve accomplished. And be authentic.
If you’re out of Marketing inspiration, go follow other Nonprofits on Social Media. Reach out to them and ask them what they are doing. Analyze why they are successful online. The more NPOs you follow online, the more ideas for your Marketing Strategy you’ll gather.