Focusing on nonprofit growth is an excellent way to ensure your organization is well-equipped to help people now and in the future. However, it’s often difficult to know where to start. Which methods are most effective and likely to provide the results you want? Here are four crucial marketing strategies you should focus on developing.
Social media profiles may be the first places people visit to learn about your nonprofit. That’s why it’s essential to make sure they provide a positive, engaging reflection of your organization. Fortunately, it’s easier to do that than you may think.
You want to give people the impression that your organization is active and doing worthwhile work. One of the most straightforward ways to do that is to stick to a posting schedule that ensures people frequently see updated content.
Determine how often your team could comfortably post new information, whether that’s daily or every third day. Keep in mind that you can use social media management software to simultaneously publish the material on all sites where you have a social media presence.
As you consider what content to distribute, keep your audience in mind. Start by using relational marketing that shows you see them as people, not merely donation sources. Also, try incorporating numerous content types. Some viewers will find an infographic resonates with them more strongly than a short video, for example.
One excellent and widely used option is to engage in audience storytelling via social media. Whether that happens with text, video or both, use content that helps people imagine themselves in the positions of those your organization assists. If you can find willing individuals, think about having people with direct experience of your nonprofit’s assistance give perspective about how it improved their lives.
Creating social media dialogues can also support your nonprofit’s growth. For example, someone who uses your Facebook profile to ask a question but never gets an answer will be discouraged. Conversely, prompt responses keep your organization in a top-of-mind position and give people alternative ways to get in touch if they don’t want to fill out a form or pick up the phone.
You’ll almost certainly encounter occasional critical, negative feedback. Even if you feel tempted to ignore it, addressing peoples’ concerns helps them feel noticed and recognized. Those things are important for those feeling genuine distress or confusion. One option is to invite people to have conversations outside of social media so you can go into more depth and get to the heart of the matter.
Having accurate information about your donors will help you plan and run marketing campaigns that are most likely to engage them. You should also remember that people will appreciate it if you offer numerous ways to support the organization as it grows.
Your goal is to remove the friction and barriers that could prevent people from helping your organization. One way to do that is to provide more ways for them to submit donations. It’s no longer sufficient to assume everyone has credit cards. Even those that do may avoid using them because they worry about getting into debt.
A recent study found that two-thirds of consumers want nonprofits to offer a digital payment method. That may mean letting them set up mobile wallets or tweaking your system to accept PayPal as a donation option. You might even enable people to give through your social media page or contribute money via a text message code.
Showing flexibility toward your donors requires knowing their preferences. Start by creating donor profiles that segment people into groups based on their past behaviors. For example, does a person usually give a large, end-of-year gift or donate smaller amounts every few months?
Additionally, have they attended or sponsored your fundraisers? Some people would rather support nonprofits by purchasing event tickets instead of making traditional donations. Track how often they respond to or open emails, too. You want to communicate with them often enough to make them keep your organization in mind, but not so much that they feel annoyed.
Various challenges may make it difficult for people to donate money, even if they wholeheartedly agree with your nonprofit’s mission. For example, unemployment may stop past or would-be donors from giving now. Other people may have varied incomes from month to month and conclude that their situations are too precarious to donate funds.
Those realities make it necessary to convince donors you welcome their support, even if it doesn’t come as a monetary donation. For example, maybe your nonprofit’s growth resulted in moving to a new office. In that case, you might ask for donations of gently used furniture that people no longer want or need.
Your nonprofit’s website can become a trustworthy resource for people who want to learn more about it. Make the site user-friendly and informative to increase the chances that individuals will linger during their visits and return often to see what’s new.
Consider ways to make the website maximally helpful for the people who visit it. For example, many nonprofit organizations dealing with sensitive topics, such as domestic violence or sexual orientation, have “exit now” buttons. They close the page immediately and typically bring up Google instead. Such sites also feature content that helps individuals realize they might need help. Don’t forget that loved ones may also visit to learn how your organization could aid a friend or family member in need.
Potential volunteers, possible donors and concerned community members are among the other groups who might visit your nonprofit’s website. Since you’re aiming to facilitate growth, think about discussing how you hope the organization will evolve as it gets larger. Disclosing those details should make people eager to get involved and assist where they can.
People are increasingly likely to visit websites on their phones. Many prefer doing that because they almost always have their smartphones close but may not be near computers. Others find that internet access is more readily available through mobile data plans, especially if they live in homes where several occupants use the residence’s internet connection.
Visitors may quickly become fed up if they visit your nonprofit’s website and find it doesn’t function well or is unattractive. Unfortunately, those poor experiences may taint their perceptions of your whole organization. If you need to give the website a simpler design to make it compatible with mobile devices, that’s OK. The main thing to ensure is that you aren’t pushing people away with a website that doesn’t align with how they like to use the internet.
Your website is also an excellent place to feature data about your organization’s hard work. For example, if your organization operates a helpline, tell people how many calls it received over the past year and what percentage were from people who had not been in touch previously. Alternatively, if your organization works toward a specific goal — such as getting homeless people into permanent housing — tell site visitors how often this happened.
It’s understandable if you occasionally discuss the nonprofit’s growth with somewhat vague language. For example, maybe the website has sentences such as, “Thanks to your generous support, we’ve helped thousands of service users this year.” However, it’ll be more meaningful to many of your visitors to go into greater detail with hard data.
Your nonprofit’s volunteers are almost certainly among its most valuable assets. However, you may not initially think to let them help with marketing tasks. Giving them that option could pay off in measurable ways.
Remember that some volunteers cannot assist organizations in person, perhaps due to family obligations that keep them home. Others don’t feel comfortable doing that currently due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, they can still make valuable contributions from their abodes.
For example, you could give volunteers access to a phone bank and have them reach out to potential donors. Alternatively, they could use cloud-based products like Google Drive to keep documents they work on with fellow volunteers. Try to meet them where they are by offering tasks that suit their skills and locations.
Volunteers can help get more people excited and interested in what your organization does. Their firsthand perspectives often mean they’re well-positioned to give authentic accounts of what involvement with the organization means to them.
Consider the most effective ways for them to promote the organization and take individual approaches to accommodate them. For example, maybe you have a 78-year-old volunteer who doesn’t use social media but relies on Zoom to participate in a book club. Encouraging volunteers to discuss the organization through familiar platforms and means is an excellent way to raise awareness of your organization.
Don’t overlook that your volunteers likely have valuable ideas to get more community members involved with the organization. After all, they made choices to give back with their time and talent, so your nonprofit obviously did many things right to catch their attention and make them commit. Asking your volunteers for ideas may spark some marketing possibilities you didn’t think of before.
They’ll also probably bring up additional ways to directly involve community members. For example, could you ask the owner of a local cafe if they’d run a campaign where 20% of every meal goes to your organization on a certain day of the month? Another possibility is to have people wear a particular badge or ribbon related to your organization. When others ask about it, they can bring up your cause.
These four strategies will help you make significant gains in growing your organization. Although you should not expect immediate results, you’ll see positive outcomes if you stick with them.
Remember, all effective marketing strategies have a much better chance of working if you follow through with them instead of giving up too early. One excellent way to stay motivated is to choose several metrics to track throughout your marketing efforts. As you see the statistics gradually going in the right direction over a prolonged period, it’ll be easier to stay upbeat.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.