40 Ideas to Improve Your Nonprofit's Marketing
Marketing involves knowing your audience and the many ways to reach them. Nonprofit marketing can be tricky as it often involves complex projects and limited budgets. However, there are resourceful ways you can market your nonprofit and establish or reinforce your brand. Use a few of these ideas to best market your nonprofit.
- Know Your Organization - You can’t tell others who you are and what you’re about unless you fully understand it yourself. Be able to communicate who you are, what you do well and the impact your nonprofit has.
- Know Your Audience - Make sure you understand them and what they are interested in seeing and hearing. Be willing to make different marketing pieces for different audiences if necessary. This shows that you understand potential donors and what they care most about.
- Define Your Values - Shala Wilson Graham at SW Creatives says, “To build a successful and authentic brand, you have to start with your values. The things that are valued as part of your company’s culture will help to shape the best brand for you.”
- Be Consistent - Establish your brand and stay true to your organization’s values.
- Recognize that Brand and Reputation go Hand in Hand - Your brand is more than your logo design. It is what you stand for and the public’s perception of your nonprofit.
- Equip Your Team - Make sure your staff and volunteers understand your brand so they can easily communicate it to outside audiences.
- Motivate Others to Action - Think about your tag line as a call for people to get involved and connect with your nonprofit.
Sell tickets and coordinate volunteers for a fundraiser gala with a sign up. View an Example
Big Picture Outreach
- Tell a Story - In marketing and in reporting it is always helpful to include a story. People will skim through numbers, but they will connect emotionally with a story.
- Revamp the Newsletter - Unless you have a primarily older constituent base, consider replacing your print newsletter with something more relevant such as brief email updates with easy-to-read bullet points, infographics, recent photos or quick video update. Make the content engaging and easy to consume in one quick glance.
- Stay Positive - Remember, you want to offer value to your readers. They will keep coming back if you make them feel good and offer them something of value.
- Outreach and Partnership Events - Consider hosting an event at a local brewery or coffee shop to tell people more about who you are and give them the chance to interact with you on a casual basis. You can also partner with a local business to tell people who you are and what you do. Some businesses might even donate a portion of sales that particular day to your cause!
- Podcast - Think about starting a podcast if you have the budget and the time for it. People value when ideas and resources are shared.
- Learn from Others - Evaluate and network with peers at local and global nonprofits to see what they are doing well and to avoid similar mistakes.
- Year in Review - Think through your annual report as a marketing piece. Your annual report is more than numbers. It’s a way to tell your story. Genius Tip: View our 40 ideas for creating and promoting your annual report.
- Empower Creativity - Encourage volunteers to take photos when they are serving. This can be with a nice SLR camera if you have one available or on their smartphone. Then you can utilize these photos for your social and marketing pieces.
- Show a Sneak Peek - Grab "behind the scenes" photographs at staff meetings, serving your constituents and other relevant events. People like seeing you in action.
Register participants and volunteers for a fundraiser run/walk. View an Example
- Refresh Your Site - Keep your website updated and relevant as well as easy to navigate. Consider updating it every five years and keep your pictures fresh. Depending on the type of nonprofit you are, consider posting current events or other relevant information to offer it as a resource to people.
- Make It Mobile-Friendly - Make sure your website is fully responsive, which means it can be accessed across all devices: mobile, tablet and computer.
- Create Content - Consider starting a blog and ask your staff or volunteers to contribute to writing it. This will give a variety of viewpoints. Make sure your blog content is consistent with your overall messaging.
- Decide What Type - Make proactive decisions about what stories need to be told quickly and which ones need to be told with high quality. If they need to be told quickly, have your staff write them and post. Then for the higher quality and/or more complicated stories, hire a professional to tell the story with an artistic video.
- Do It Yourself - Learn to do basic video editing so you can compile quick 30-second video spots.
- Learn a New Skill - Download free video software and find tutorials online.
- Organize Your Files - Buy an external hard drive and keep an organized library of all of your images and video clips. Ask a volunteer to assist you with this, as it can require a lot of time on the front end. However, an organized media library will save you a lot of valuable time when you need to find a specific photo or video clip for your nonprofit event or campaign.
- Invest in Professional Video - Budget for professional photography and video; it makes a remarkable difference in your marketing.
- Understand Your Goals - Develop a social media strategy, including measurable goals.
- Frequency - Post consistently, but not too often. One to two times per week should be plenty.
- Leverage Images - Always include a photo or video when you post anything on social media. It helps catch people’s attention and gives more visual interest to your post.
- Offer Giveaways - Offer free items such as giveaways or trivia in your posts. It will help people engage with you on social media.
- Be Responsive - Be quick to respond to people when they post on your page or ask you questions through social media. You want to be engaged with your audience. It will keep people coming back.
- Personalize It - Add a personal touch. If one of your staff gets married or has a baby, celebrate it on social media. People love feeling connected to you.
- Add Joy - When posting on social media, take the opportunity to celebrate those you serve. This will go a lot further with recipients than always posting about yourself. Consider celebrating others around you, such as your city or other charities with which you collaborate.
- Stay Away from Debate - Avoid controversial topics when possible. People get enough divisive information in their social media feed. Make sure your pages are a fresh and positive voice.
- Clear Tone and Voice - Think through what your tone and voice should be on social. Consider what your "voice" is and be consistent with your language. Have the same person post every day. Other staff can offer content, but you want one person to control the language and tone so it stays consistent with your brand.
- Use High-Resolution Images - The quality of photos you post reflects the quality of your nonprofit. Even though your nonprofit may do great work, if you post sloppy photos, it reflects poorly on your brand.
- Consider Free Images - Search a variety of free quality photo sites if you need access to images to utilize in your posts. Be sure to give credit to the artist behind the image you use.
- Survey a Diverse Group - Host a focus group of people representing a variety of generations and backgrounds. Ask them to look through your website and social media feeds to provide feedback.
- Don’t Add to the Noise - Don’t feel like you have to post on social media for every holiday or trending topic. If it’s not impactful to your brand, don’t feel the need to post.
- Stay Informed on Channel Trends - Instagram is a really popular social media platform right now. While originally designed for pictures, and this is still the case, people utilize Instagram stories. This is a quick way to reach people. Show people behind the scenes, engage them using questions and post meaningful stories.
Plan a donor appreciation banquet with a sign up. View an Example
- Set Up AmazonSmile - Encourage people to link to your nonprofit on AmazonSmile and when they shop there versus the regular Amazon site, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to your nonprofit. To register to receive donations from AmazonSmile, see the instructions on their site.
- Call to Action Button - Add a “Donate Now” button to your Facebook page so people can donate directly from your Facebook page. You must be a 501c3 and not have your pages connected to any other categories.
Your nonprofit is giving people the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves — something with meaning and purpose. Use these tips to tell your story. And, don't forget to recruit and manage volunteers with a volunteer management software
. Check out our guide to some of the best volunteer management tools
Andrea Johnson is a native Texan now living in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys running, photography and good chocolate.