Non-Profit ~vs~ For Profit
Nonprofits have to think about marketing at least as much — if not more — than ‘for profit’ businesses. In addition to raising enough funds to keep the lights on and be able to continue the work that you do, you also have to raise funds for various causes or community initiatives.
Nonprofits often have limited resources, and you want to be able to use as many of those resources as possible for doing good. To do that good, however, you need help from your community. Here are some tips for getting the most out of marketing as a nonprofit.
Your nonprofit should have a personality all its own. How do you want to present your organization to the world? Fun and humorous? Gentle and compassionate? Authoritative and timely? You can even mix and match those common brand voices to develop your own brand identity.
This should be infused in all of your marketing. The goal of your brand identity is to be distinct enough to hook and engage your audience.
Whether profit or nonprofit, there are very few organizations these days that can survive without an online presence. With the average person spending 417 minutes online, it’s likely the first place your audience will search for information about your business.
A website serves as your central hub online. Social media gives you an outlet to share news about your latest events and initiatives in real time. Take time to research the social media platforms your audience is most likely to use and set up accounts that you update regularly.
For most businesses, the objective of marketing is to bring in new customers and make a profit. In the nonprofit world, you do want to raise money to cover all your operating costs, but the rest of your marketing objectives will be very different.
Maybe you want to raise awareness about a lesser known issue, or you want to fund research. Maybe you want to offer accessible theater or literary resources to your community. For this, you’ll need to set clear marketing rules. The best rule of thumb is to follow SMART.
- Specific. If you want to raise money to support a prison theater program, for instance, a specific marketing goal might be a monthly newsletter on the impact of theater on disenfranchised communities.
- Measurable. Always use measurable figures when developing goals, such as growing your email list by 10% or getting a certain number of donations.
- Achievable. Don’t shoot too high with your goals. Aim for something you can reasonably achieve with the resources you have. It can help to build from your past goals.
- Relevant. Make sure the marketing strategies you employ are relevant to your audience and their values and accessibility.
- Timely. Set time frames for your goals, like sending out a newsletter on the last day of every month.
If someone asks about your nonprofit, how do you explain it to them? If your explanation is too long winded or convoluted, you will lose the attention of most listeners. You need a short, snappy summary of what your nonprofit does, typically one sentence. This elevator pitch is designed to hook individuals or communities that may want to be a part of what you do.
Prepared key messages can also help you to confidently and simply explain your nonprofit to new and interested parties.
You can use that elevator pitch for word-of-mouth explanations of what you do at events, and across any online and social media presences. The shorter and snappier the pitch, the more it will stick with people. Stick to the crux of what you do. Save the details for anyone interested in learning more.
Digital marketing may be king these days, and it’s certainly not something nonprofits should neglect, but word-of-mouth is still a crucial marketing strategy for a nonprofit trying to grow their presence within their community. You can enhance word of mouth by encouraging people to spread the word. Give your volunteers or employees a benefit for bringing in new volunteers, such as entering them in a drawing, giving them a bonus, or offering a day off if possible.
You can make this work with social media, as well. Let’s say you host an event. Maybe you can offer a giveaway at the end of the night, and any guests who have posted about the event on social media can be entered to win. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it puts the word out about your nonprofit.