As a nonprofit, your top priority is to provide value to your beneficiaries, but you can’t do it by word-of-mouth alone. The first step in effectively attracting new supporters to your cause is spreading the word about your nonprofit’s programs to interested prospects. That’s why marketing should be on your radar if it isn’t already.
A great marketing campaign has the potential to boost your brand awareness, but it can be daunting to take the first step in shaping your organization’s brand. After all, you want to start on the right foot because the higher return on investment (ROI) you get on your marketing campaigns, the more resources you can put towards your programs. However, developing your marketing approach doesn’t have to be stressful. You can maximize your nonprofit marketing campaign’s ROI by following these tips:
- Understand your target metrics
- Conduct audience research
- Hone your marketing channels
- Feature real people and stories
- Connect with recognizable figures in your community
- Work with a nonprofit marketing agency
Let’s explore how these strategies can transform your nonprofit’s identity and propel your outreach efforts.
1. Understand your target metrics
One of the most challenging aspects of launching a nonprofit marketing campaign is setting data-driven goals. There are several metrics that you can track to gauge your success, such as:
- Click-through rate on marketing emails
- Website conversion rates
- Donation leads by communication channel
- Impressions on social media
- Overall ROI for each marketing push
Given the vast span of these metrics, it’s important to focus on the ones that matter most to your nonprofit’s goals. So, when determining your objectives for each push, be specific about which metrics you’re going to track.
Investing time into organizational planning for your nonprofit by developing a SWOT analysis can be helpful for determining which metrics align with your overall goals. For instance, your target metrics might be different if you’re looking to boost attendance at a fundraising event than if you’re trying to reactivate lapsed donors.
2. Conduct audience research
The foundation of any great marketing campaign is finding what makes your target audience tick and adjusting your content accordingly. You can’t read your audience members’ minds to see what motivates them, but you can get close by conducting audience research. There are several ways you can learn what drives your target audiences, such as:
- Survey your existing supporters. The simplest tactic to get responses about your approach is to ask your loyal supporters. Send out an online survey and ask them what types of messages or content they’ve responded well to in the past. Ensure that you note differences in responses based on the segments your supporters are in.
- Conduct A/B tests. Create several marketing materials with different approaches. Then, deliver them to your existing supporter base to see which resonates with them better.
- Host focus groups. To get direct feedback about your marketing materials, gather a randomized group of people who match your target demographics. Then, present your marketing approaches and ask them for their opinions to give you an idea of how to best align with their preferences. If you conduct a focus group, ensure you get written consent from your participants.
Once you have your results, use the insights you’ve gathered to structure your nonprofit marketing plan and continue to make adjustments while you roll out your content.
3. Hone your marketing channels
With the rapid expansion of the digital space, there are seemingly endless possibilities for you to market yourself online. But, a less-is-more approach to picking marketing channels is the best way to boost engagement. Think of it this way: focusing on just a few channels prevents you from wasting money on platforms that your audience members aren’t on.
To determine the channels with the highest potential, answer the following questions:
- Which channels have the highest response/click-through rate?
- Which channels allow us to express our marketing vision?
- Which channel gives us the best access to our target demographic?
You likely already know and leverage channels like social media and email, but remember to consider more unique options as well. For example, you might not know about Google Ad Grants, even though they have the highest ROI of any nonprofit marketing channel, according to Getting Attention. So, be open-minded when determining the perfect fit for your organization, because it might not be what you think!
4. Feature real people and stories
Nonprofits are built on humanitarian principles, so it follows that the best nonprofit branding features the real people that your organization impacts. Your messages should aim to build an emotional connection with potential supporters by showing that your nonprofit is in the business of transforming lives for the better.
An effective way to authentically appeal to your audience’s emotions is to share your nonprofit’s origin story and explain your passion for the cause. Include photos of your organization’s formative milestones, such as the opening of your office or the first time you hit your fundraising goals. But, remember that your story is unfolding more every day, and emphasize how much you’ve grown and achieved since your inception. Ensure you mention the accolades you’ve received for your community activities and your goals for the future.
Featuring your beneficiaries in marketing materials can boost awareness of your organization’s work. One of the main tactics you can use to support your beneficiaries is to let them tell their stories in their own words. And, as Fifty & Fifty’s guide to storytelling states, showing your supporters exactly who is behind your cause is more likely to elicit an empathetic psychological response from them. So, gather emotional stories (with your beneficiaries’ permission) to fully bridge the gap between them and your audience. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!
5. Work with a nonprofit marketing agency
If your team feels unsure about how to begin or revamp your marketing strategy, don’t worry—you can work with professionals. If you have room in your budget, working with a nonprofit marketing agency can get you started on the right foot. Agencies can help you optimize your:
- Web design
- Brand image
- Marketing content, including video and photos
- Social media strategy
Many nonprofit marketing agencies primarily take on comprehensive, long-term projects, such as a complete rebrand. If your nonprofit is in the market for these services, it can certainly be worth the investment.
If you’ve had the same nonprofit marketing approach for years and aren’t seeing results, it’s time to broaden your horizons. Once you’ve settled on a new direction work with your team to standardize your brand identity and messaging. Showcasing a united front is essential for cementing your presence in the community. As long as you stay true to your roots and advocate for your beneficiaries, your new and improved marketing strategy can greatly expand your nonprofit’s influence.