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Extending your nonprofit’s reach to new and distant audiences is essential for growth, but you can’t forget about your strongest base of support, your home community. Having strong connections and being seen as a reputable organization in your local area ensures that the people you aim to serve know who you are and can easily identify your brand.

Building brand awareness at the local level has unique challenges and opportunities. While your digital strategy can be used to spread awareness in your community, there are also many traditional approaches that can work alongside them.

To demonstrate how to market your brand to local supporters, this article will explore six steps nonprofits can take to leverage both digital and traditional marketing strategies.

1. Build a media list for news releases.

Research your community’s local TV stations, radio stations, newspaper editors, and any other local news sources. Compile a list of these channels, their contact information, their average audience size, the type of content they usually report, and any other notes that might be useful for determining how you can use them to strategically promote your nonprofit.

Reach out to these organizations’ points of contact to introduce your nonprofit and arrange how you can present news releases through them. Different media outlets are looking for different types of stories, such as:

  • Educational content based on studies
  • Human interest pieces and interviews
  • Press releases for upcoming events and neighborhood activities

Some news sources looking for a story may be willing to feature your nonprofit for free, while others might have a fee for more promotional content. On a monthly basis, prepare a list of potential content you can share with news sources to spread awareness about your nonprofit.

2. Dedicate a contact for your public.

Getting in touch with your nonprofit should be easy, and you can make the process straightforward for both your supporters and your staff by creating one dedicated contact for public inquiries.

On physical marketing materials such as flyers and business cards, be sure to include your organization’s website and an email address or phone number interested supporters can reach out to.

For digital channels, make the process for getting in touch as easy as possible. DNL OmniMedia’s nonprofit website design guide emphasizes the importance of clear navigation and cites an organization’s contact pages as one of their most important core pages. This page should feature a contact form with information fields such as the inquirer’s name, contact information, and the general category their request can be sorted under. These fields can also help you learn more about your supporters, such as noting common questions that come from individuals who live in your local community.

3. Use an affinity organization map to see where you’re connected.

Make a list of all of your key board members, leaders, volunteers, and staff. Consider all of the potential connections they have to other groups in your community. For example, consider their connections to organizations like:

  • Businesses. Local businesses can become sponsors, donate items to fundraisers, facilitate corporate giving programs, or set up a matching gift initiative.
  • Other nonprofits. Other nonprofits in your area do not necessarily have to be competitors for funding and attention. Determine if your staff, board members, or regular volunteers have connections to other nonprofits, and consider if there are potential initiatives or campaigns multiple charitable organizations could work together on.
  • Politicians. While nonprofits need to refrain from participating in political activities, local politicians and their campaign donors have the potential to become valuable supporters. For instance, large donations to political campaigns is a common wealth indicator for prospective major donors.

Consider these and other connections to create a curated affinity organization map. Then, ask everyone with a valuable connection to reach out to their community networks to advertise your programs, promote your events, or spread awareness.

If your team is unsure how to reach out to other organizations or make a pitch for support, consider hiring a nonprofit consultant. Nonprofit consultants with a specialization in marketing can help your team craft your marketing pitch for outreach materials and in-person meetings to garner greater support.

4. Get your neighbors to promote your work.

People are more likely to engage with an organization that’s recommended by someone they know personally than they are to take a chance on one they’ve never heard of before. Thus, you can quickly establish yourself as a trusted nonprofit by encouraging your current supporters and staff to promote your organization to their personal networks.

This support can take the form of asking local businesses to post flyers in their windows, sharing your organizations’ posts on social media, or even just discussing your cause with friends and family.

For a more organized approach, consider running a formal campaign based on peer outreach. For example, the end of the year is often a popular time for giving. Consider prompting your supporters to make a charitable donation in the name of a loved one and then post about it online as a way to give back and get your organization’s name out there in a memorable way.

5. Create branded flyers.

A traditional but time-tested approach to spreading awareness is branded flyers. Nonprofit fundraising flyers can be posted around various high-traffic areas of your community. Create designs with bright colors to help passersby spot them from a distance.

These flyers can be used to attract attention in general or promote a specific fundraiser or event. Create pull away strips with your nonprofit’s website or other contact information to encourage potential supporters to learn more about your nonprofit later at home.

6. Apply for a Google Ad Grant.

The Google Ad Grant provides nonprofits with up to $10,000 of free advertising on search engine results pages to make their missions known. Essentially, when members of your community search keywords relevant to your nonprofit, Google will take their location data into account and show them ads for your nonprofit.

NXUnite’s Google Ad Grants guide shares what nonprofits need to be to qualify for a grant before applying:

  • Register as a 501(c)(3)
  • Accept Google’s terms of service
  • Own your own website and feature relevant, high-quality content
    Have an SSL certificate

Keep in mind that the following organizations are not eligible for the Google Ad Grant: government agencies, hospitals, and academic institutions. Other nonprofits are welcome to apply and can begin the process as soon as the four listed requirements are complete.

To serve your community, your nonprofit needs to be well known in that community. Spread brand awareness through traditional and digital means alike to reach a wide spectrum of local supporters.

About the Author: Carl Diesing, Managing Director at DNL OmniMedia

Photo of Carl DiesingCarl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.

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