Most nonprofits rely exclusively on the funding and support of their donors to underwrite their efforts. This reliance makes donor outreach a critical component of any nonprofit seeking long-term success and puts the bulk of the pressure on its marketing campaigns. The key is that most nonprofits can tell a powerful story about the work they do, who the work benefits, and the people behind the work.
Unlike a general business that advertises and people buy something or they don’t, nonprofits have some extra challenges. First, since the donor doesn’t receive a product or service for their money, the nonprofits must present their cause in a manner that compels donors to take action on an emotional level. Second, many donors look deep into multiple aspects of a nonprofit before parting with their money. Can you imagine if a typical pillow buying consumer first looked at the pillow company’s philanthropic goals, full financials, sponsors, and so on and THEN decided whether or not to buy the pillow?
So, while it really comes down to a nonprofit’s ability to tell a compelling story that communicates the purpose and drive behind the organization, the question is where to tell it and to whom? As with any other business, there are marketing channels nonprofits can utilize to push out their message and encourage donors to support their cause. Next, we’ll look at some of those channels and tips on how best to reach and engage your target audience.
RESPONSIVE, MODERN WEBSITE
Your nonprofit’s website is your most powerful asset when it comes to attracting online donations. A nonprofit organization’s website is its 24/7 resource for existing and potential donors. It is where potential supporters can learn more about your organization and the place that supporters become donors by contributing to your cause. A responsive website with intuitive navigation, high-quality images and videos, and other engaging content is a non-negotiable requirement of a modern nonprofit.
Read more in-depth about nonprofit websites in our article:
Communicate a clear message on your site. Nonprofit donors expect a level of transparency beyond that expected of other organizations. Prominently display the views of the nonprofit – its mission, its vision, and so on. Clearly articulate your goals, the rationale for establishing those goals, and the value proposition you are offering donors.
The success of inbound marketing is dependent on your content. Offering strong content about what your organization has done with previously donated funds is a more powerful approach than a right off the bat request for money. Motivate and inspire potential and previous donors to support your long-term cause or short-term goals by demonstrating the organization’s passion for what it does and how donors are an integral part of those efforts.
Be purposeful as you create your content. Understand the target audience of that particular message (established donor v. new donor v. volunteer), understand and focus on what action you are hoping the reader will take, and make everything on your site easily shareable to drive more traffic to it.
A blog is an excellent way for the organization to communicate to donors information about the nonprofit and what it does. The blog format provides ample opportunity to use a combination of text, images, and videos to engage with your audience. And of course, a call to action on each blog is essential. If having a brightly colored “DONATE NOW” button doesn’t suit the personality of your nonprofit, have a “LEARN MORE” button or “SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTER” button and approach the request for donations in a further communication that is more personalized.
Properly managed SEO efforts are incredibly important to nonprofits who need every inbound lead they can get. Boosting your SEO will provide you an advantage in appearing in search result listings and increase your chances of putting your organization in people’s minds when they are looking for donation opportunities.
Read more in-depth about SEO in our articles:
An effective way to attract new donors and encourage return visitors is to share and promote your nonprofit’s content on social media platforms. The basic goals of social media marketing campaigns are to build awareness about your nonprofit, increase your number of followers, find donors, and to drive traffic to your nonprofit’s website. Given that the average person spends almost two hours a day on social media platforms, social media marketing is one of the quickest ways to push out information about your organization’s efforts.
Not only can you promote organic traffic through these social channels, but you can also spend relatively small amounts of money to boost your content to a wider yet still targeted audience. Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a way to purchase an advertisement on a webpage, social media channel or search engine. By spending a little bit of money on paid promotion like Facebook Ads, Instagram, and Twitter, you put your content in front of not only your followers but others as well. An added benefit of paid or promoted posts is that they take advantage of a channel you have most likely already established.
That being said, setting up social media profiles for your nonprofit and periodically pushing out posts won’t be enough. You do need to establish an online brand identity, but you also need to create and support a sense of community amongst your supporters. You do that by maintaining an online presence in a way that provides value-added content and interacts with your followers.
Your Nonprofit can also apply for a Facebook “Donate Now” call to action button on your organization’s Facebook page. The button promotes immediate action from your donors and potential supporters by encouraging them to act on the spot. To be able to offer this option on your page, your nonprofit must have a verified Facebook page, hold verified 501(c)(3) status, be based in the U.S., and agree to Facebook’s terms and conditions.
Leverage the popularity and power of video content to tell your organization’s story. People tend to skim written content but will stop and take 30-60 seconds to view a piece of video content. The key is to tap into viewers’ emotions through your video story and compel them to become donors or, if they are already donors, to become more involved in your nonprofit’s efforts.
While the concept of video marketing can be intimidating for some, it doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Odds are that you or someone else on your paid or volunteer staff have a knack for telling a story. With a combination of a smartphone and an affordable tool like Canva or Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you can easily create and edit amazing video content.
Once you’ve established a comfort level with video, you can also use social platforms like Instagram and Facebook to live stream your content. There is also a YouTube resource, Impact Lab, that exists with the specific purpose of assisting social movements in pushing out their messages.
Video content can be incredibly persuasive as you work to communicate the vision, goals, and work of your organization. It is also easily shared, increasing your ability to reach a larger group of potential donors. As you look to strengthen your marketing strategies, dedicate some of your time and resources to this powerful communication channel.
For nonprofit organizations that prefer to spend money directly on their cause and not their marketing budget, email marketing can be an effective and powerful digital marketing tool. Marketing Land found that for every $1 spent on email marketing, a $40 revenue is realized.
The key to creating and executing successful email marketing campaigns is to create interesting and engaging content. A captivating subject line will convince readers to open your email and concise, compelling copy within your email message can communicate your story and request the support of your target audience. Emails are another great platform on which to utilize images and video to appeal to your readers’ emotions.
A slightly more sophisticated approach to this marketing strategy would be implementing automated email campaigns that would allow you to segment your target audience. This strategy lets your organization put messaging in front of a reader that is most appropriate for his current relationship with your nonprofit whether he is a potential donor, established supporter, volunteer, and so on.
A monthly or quarterly email newsletter can be a productive tool as you work to maintain relationships with established donors. A newsletter is also an excellent means of introducing your nonprofit to potential individual or organizational supporters. You can also feature your newsletter on your website.
INTERACTIONS WITH THE PUBLIC
It is important for nonprofits to focus on building relationships and having meaningful conversations with people before asking for donations. When you establish an emotional connection between potential donors and your organization, you increase the potential for gaining supporters and either their time, financial resources, or both.
By showing respect towards your target audience through transparent dialogue, you are bringing them value instead of relying on a guilt trip or superficial emotional connections to gain donations. And remember to continue the conversation after you receive donations. A thank you goes a long way into encouraging repeat donations and a positive word of mouth endorsement.
Public speaking engagements are another way to interact with the general public. These opportunities may be in person or digital and should be viewed as a marketing channel for your organization. You can also use snippets of your public speaking engagement on your social media accounts and your website. By using event or brand hashtags and including social sharing buttons, your efforts can also be shared online by any attendees inclined to do so.
GOOGLE IS ALWAYS A RESOURCE
Google annually parcels out incredible amounts of money to help nonprofit organizations with their online promotions. While there are limitations in regards to bids and budgets, Google’s Ad Grants program is still an effective source of free advertising. Your nonprofit needs only a Google nonprofit account and a Google Ads account to get started on the application process. The following are the tools in Google for Nonprofits that qualifying nonprofit organization can apply for:
G Suite for Nonprofits Includes unlimited email addresses on your domain, video conferencing, and 24/7 support to help keep your team organized on the cloud.
Google Ad Grants Receive $10,000 of in-kind advertising on Google Search results every month and track online donations and registrations.
YouTube Nonprofit Program Includes access to YouTube Spaces and dedicated email support and allows you to add donation cards and links to your videos.
Google One Today Helps your nonprofit organization streamline marketing efforts with easy to use online fundraising, supporter communications, and a mobile app. Your nonprofit keeps 100% of the donations.
Google Earth Outreach Provides custom mapping and location data your nonprofit can use to find new supporters and map out your organization’s impact.
There are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States alone. The competition to engage with prospective donors can be a challenge for any nonprofit. The creation and execution of your marketing plan will be the difference between sustaining your organization’s efforts and struggling to exist. Effective marketing will help you gain the exposure you need to attract donors, board members, and volunteers.
The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands the need for nonprofits to not only reach, but also to educate the general public about their organization’s mission, vision, and efforts. Our marketing efforts can help you plan and execute marketing strategies tailored specifically to your nonprofit’s needs and budget. Contact us today – let’s get started!
Cover photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels