4 marketing tips for non-profit organizations

online marketing

On this time of the year, people tend to look around and help those who are in need. Christmas is usually a time for love, for sharing, for helping. However, there are certain organizations whose mission is to help those who need that extra push every hour and every day of the year. Most of those organizations live from donations from people who want to support a particular cause. This guest-post by Mary Ann Keeling for GetSocial’s blog is for them. Thank you.

How much more could you do with a few more donations? Marketing became crucial in the non-profit sphere, as new organizations are springing up to ask your donors for their time and support. No matter how great your cause is, unless you can convey it to your supporters, you’ll find it very hard to realize the full potential of your organization. Therefore, let’s consider what you can do to help ensure your supporters and your constituents think of you when it’s time to decide who they will help.

Non-profit marketing fundamentals: assess, plan, and differentiate

The beginning stage of any marketing effort, non-profit or otherwise, is the assessment phase. The Chinese say “know thyself and know thy enemy and you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”. And while we (hopefully) do not have enemies or go into battle there is plenty of truth for the non-profit here.

Who is the audience for your marketing? You need it identify who you will be talking to, what you have been saying to them so far, and — most importantly — how effective your efforts have been. Similarly you have to assess your own organization and marketing strategies.

The next stage is to put together a plan for your future efforts, taking into account where you have not been doing as well as you could and improving those areas. Start by defining your goals — where you want your marketing to take you. Then, define milestones, choose the strategies which will lead you to your objectives. In the end, pick the tools and tactics which you will deploy in support of your strategies.

Of course it’s impossible to plan everything in advance in perfect detail. You will likely find there’s a certain ‘planning horizon’ beyond which you can make only high-level plans for what you will do. This is alright; you must make a note to keep updating your plan as time passes and the ‘horizon’ moves further out.

Multiply your leverage with partnerships

This is one of the most effective nonprofit marketing tools. It can deliver large numbers of donations, great respect in the public eye, and may not cost anything at all.

One of the tactics you may use is celebrity partnership. Reaching out to a respected local or national institution (such as a sports team), and work together to raise funds for your cause can deliver tremendous results. The Mater Foundation has had a successful partnership with the Brisbane Lions. This has helped raise millions for medical research and patient care at Mater Hospitals.

Taking your marketing online

If you are like most nonprofits you already have a reasonably well developed program of offline marketing, usually centred around printed material like brochures, press releases, and direct mail fund-raising letters. If offline marketing works for you, you shouldn’t stop doing it. Nevertheless, online marketing is an powerful tool that is worth exploring for your organization. This is where your future (younger) supporters are and you need to start generating their interesting soon enough.

The first step to going online is to set up an email newsletter or list on your website. Email marketing in the business world delivers an average of $40 in revenue for every $1 spent doing it, so it is ideal for often cash-strapped nonprofits. Invite your supporters to sign up for your newsletter or an email list of tips. Then, keep in touch by sending out a text-based message which brings them up to date on your organization every month or so.

Moving onto social media

If you can’t afford an outside consultant, look inside for a volunteer who has already social media experience (if only in their private lives). They can set up your basic social media presence — Twitter, Facebook, Google, and a blog — and develop guidelines for maintaining the accounts. (Be sure they document everything well enough that someone can take over if they leave.)

Expect your supporters to be on social media. By being there, you can contact them and use them as an already-existing base to grow your social presence. There may already be ‘fan’ groups devoted to your organization, which can be powerful channels for distributing and promoting your content.

Track your results

In a world where we spend more time on social media than anywhere else, social media market may seem simple. Perry Marshall (a social media guru) surveyed 57.000 marketers to understand if they were getting ROI from social media. He found out that less than 12% of respondents had been able to make social media produce revenue.

To avoid wasting time, it’s crucial to track the results of all your actions online. Social sharing, for example, can be tracked using tools like GetSocial — these allow you to see to the dollar what each ‘like’ or ‘share’ has brought you in donations.

More importantly, they allow you to tell which of your supporters are most influential and most effective at driving support.

Rather than guessing, this kind of information allows your ‘social media person’ to reach out and engage them directly, giving them the VIP treatment or even bringing them into your group as a volunteer.

Image credit: Search Engine People Blog / Flickr

This was a guest post by Mary Ann Keeling (@MaryAnnKeeling) and edited by GetSocial. Mary Ann Keeling is a freelance business consultant and social media manager from Brisbane, Australia. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, doing all kinds of water sports and listening to music.

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