Marketing is an essential part of the success of nonprofit organizations
Marc L. Goldberg
Marketing is positioning your brand in the mind of the buyer, user or recipient so that they see no suitable substitute for you and your products and services. For associations, it is exactly the same thing. Most nonprofit organizations focus on their strategic plans and forget that positioning themselves with volunteers, donors or collaborators is just as essential. Otherwise, they will remain unknown to those who can benefit from their offerings or can help support the organization.
Just like for-profit organizations, non-profit organizations need to understand the “purchasing continuum”. It is a process by which users and donors become aware of, understand and believe in the mission, and use or donate – and if satisfied, they return and recommend the association to others.
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Nonprofits need to do more than just draw attention to their campaigns or fundraising initiatives. It means capturing and holding people’s attention so they are ready to take action in support of the organization’s mission. New techniques and approaches are adopted every year, but applying the basics often makes the difference between a successful marketing plan and one that’s just in tune with many other messages.
On Cape Cod and the Islands, we face a somewhat different environment in that there are only about 236,000 full-time residents, according to the Cape Cod Commission, and by some estimates, between 750 and 1,000 nonprofits all vying for the attention of the same group of donors, volunteers and contributors. For a nonprofit to receive the attention it needs to achieve its mission and sustain itself, it must be an aggressive marketer.
Get to know your donors. Effective marketing begins with identifying and knowing those who will support the sustainability of the organization. The trick is to start the conversation first (get their attention) and then to keep the dialogue going and make a lasting impression. Being able to target means knowing the key fundamentals: age, location, attitudes, professional status, motivations, lifestyles, personality, communication preferences – how they get their information – and, very importantly, their relationship with the association.
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Become a storyteller. The best way to capture and hold a donor’s attention is to tell the organization’s story in a compelling way so that it creates an image in the donor’s mind. And great stories use more than words – photos, images, videos, infographics, shareable content, vlogs and testimonials. A nonprofit’s cause statement is the best way to tell the story. More importantly, the content should be of high quality as it will drive engagement and sharing.
Branding is essential. The brand represents the association’s values and matters in nonprofit marketing. The brand is what connects all the communication channels used to market the association, from emails to websites to social networks. This is what makes communications integrated and consistent. Consistency across different communication platforms helps create lasting differentiation that generates commitment to donate, volunteer or collaborate. Some of the best communications are personal communications that reflect the brand through written messages.
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Know the psychology of the donor. It is often said that a sale is never made until the seller understands the motivation of the buyer. The same goes for nonprofit fundraisers. Understanding the different behaviors is essential. Why do some donors wait until the end of the campaign when the goals are almost reached, when the beginning is essential to achieve the campaign goal? Why do donors make sustaining donations rather than just once? Who donates and when is a fundamental key to fundraising success.
Segment your communication. Messages must be differentiated. The same message cannot be delivered to new donors as to repeat donors or lifelong donors. Segmenting your fundraising lists by type, amount, communication channel, and donation frequency will also guide you as to the messaging for each of these segments. Your message to new donors will be different from that of occasional donors whose goal is to become repeat donors.
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Use social media but create a unique presence for each platform. As social media platforms continue to evolve, it’s important to be aware of the changes to create differentiation. For example, Instagram has “Live Rooms”, TikTok has TikTok Ads Manager, Pinterest has Idea Pins, Twitter has Tweet Take or Topic Tag Bars, Facebook has Facebook Reels, Snap Chat has Poll Stickers, and LinkedIn has LinkedIn Live.
Test, adjust and test again. Remember not all strategies and tactics work all the time. Test and measure the outcome of each initiative. Determine if it worked or not. If not settle. If asked what can be done to improve the result next time. The goal is to do better each time you execute a set strategy and tactic.
Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor. Source: “Nonprofit Marketing: 10 Lessons for All Nonprofits,” Jess Woloszyn. For free, confidential mentoring: www.capecod.score.org, [email protected], 508-775-4884.
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