Creating a marketing strategy for your nonprofit organization isn’t simply another item on your to-do list. It is essential for your organization’s success.
We know what you’re going to say: “another strategy?” Or maybe something along the lines of “I already have enough to juggle as-is, I can’t add anything else to my workload.”
Or our personal favorite: “Things are fine the way they are now. If they’re not broke, don’t fix it!”
Well, what if we told you that creating a marketing strategy for nonprofits can not only be broken down into manageable steps, but will also help you increase donations, raise awareness of your services, and even solicit volunteers?
We know that as nonprofit administrators or nonprofit marketing managers, you’re already spread pretty thin in terms of your workload. That’s why we’ve compiled a simple guide to help your organization create and implement a marketing strategy in a way that may easily integrate into your existing workflow. We’ve even included some frequently asked questions that may resolve your resistance to this not-so-daunting strategy!
What is a Marketing Strategy?
A marketing strategy is a business or organization’s top-level plan to reach potential customers or clients. The basis of this plan for most companies is to organically increase inbound leads and to grow the organization’s reach and visibility. While nonprofit organizations are not necessarily trying to reach customers, the structure and goals of a marketing strategy, at its core, remain the same. Rather than target customers to sell a product or service, nonprofit marketing strategies aim to promote awareness of the organization’s services, build a presence in the community, and even to engage and solicit current and potential donors.
Why is a Marketing Strategy Important for my Organization?
While the traditional ROI for marketing is to boost sales and brand awareness, nonprofit organizations can benefit from creating and implementing a marketing strategy. Strategic marketing can boost traffic to spread awareness of your mission, raise funds to support your services, and even attract new volunteers and supporters.
The deliberate cohesion across the content in your organization’s outbound email messaging, website, social media channels, and any other communications efforts that your organization produces or distributes will help promote awareness of your mission. In for-profit companies, this is brand awareness, and is traditionally a strategic goal in marketing teams. As your organization increases awareness of your services and mission, there are more fundraising opportunities available. Think about it, the more people that know about your nonprofit, the larger potential funding pool you will have!
Fundraising aside, increased brand awareness is also valuable to reach individuals who want to give, but are unable to do so financially. Increased awareness of who you serve and what it is that you do can encourage your followers or subscribers, or even random internet searchers, to donate their time to helping move your organization’s mission forward. With increased awareness, and then increased volunteer teams, your organization will be better equipped to serve more people in your community. Not to mention, volunteers are twice as likely to donate in a financial capacity than those who do not volunteer.
Perhaps most importantly, a deliberate marketing strategy can help raise awareness of your services to those who will actually benefit from them, or who actually need them. The more people that know what it is you do, the more people, animals, or causes you can help.
“Okay, a marketing strategy is clearly important for my nonprofit organization. But where do I start with such limited resources?”
We’re glad you asked. We have compiled a simple, comprehensive, and resource-conscious guide to help you establish a marketing strategy for nonprofits.
How to Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Nonprofit Organization
Step 1: Consider Your Value Proposition
Like for-profit companies and organizations, the value proposition is defining the specific benefit that individuals can expect to experience when they are the recipients of your organization’s services or viewers of your organization’s content. For some nonprofit organizations, such as homeless shelters, food banks, and other direct human services, this can be as easy as restating your mission statement.
For organizations that offer services such as community relief, animal shelters or foster organizations, or environmental preservation organizations, this step may not be as easy as stating how a particular individual can benefit from your services. Someone who finds you through a quick Google search or social media post will need to know what kind of benefit they will receive from engaging with your organization, even if they are not the recipient of your services. If this is the case, a bit of brainstorming might be required, because defining your value proposition needs to be specific enough to serve as the foundation for your entire marketing strategy. Using an animal shelter as an example, the value proposition can be adopting an animal to bring joy to and grow your family.
Step 2: Define Your Target Customers
Now that you’ve written down your organization’s value proposition, it’s time to choose your target markets and research their demographics. For many nonprofits, the target market segments are simple: beneficiaries or recipients of the organization’s services, potential volunteers, and prospective donors. Your organization may have more or less than these three categories depending on the nature of your services, but for our example we are going to stick with these three target markets.
With this list of target markets, you need to research their demographics. If you do not have the time or resources to conduct this research, an estimation or assumption will be suitable to get you started. It may even be mentioned or defined in your organization’s other strategies, so be sure to review them so you don’t have to duplicate work!
Sticking with our animal shelter example, the potential target markets can be beneficiaries (which for target market purposes, should be human beneficiaries), volunteers, and donors:
Beneficiaries: Perspective Pet Parents
Age 25-30, single or young couple with no children
Age 30-45, young families
Age 16-22, volunteer for school or academic requirement
Age 35-45, current or past pet owners
Age 65-75, current or past pet owners
Step 3: Establish Your Key Messaging
This doesn’t need to be a dissertation, but you should create a concept message or goal for each of your organization’s target markets. This messaging will be your North Star when creating content for your website, outbound emails, or social media platforms. You can choose to use emotions, benefits, or raw numbers in these messages: they are meant to be a springboard for easy content creation. Having this foundation will make it easier to think of content, but also serve as a check for all outbound content to make sure it aligns with your strategies for at least one of your target markets.
Step 4: Plan Your Content
You might be doing this already, but now you will have content strategies to better guide your content plan to reach your target markets. You need to map out what platforms you will use to reach each of your target markets and how often you will produce this content. This could be as simple as planning at least one touchpoint for each of your target markets per week, or as advanced as planning targeted marketing campaigns. You can create content calendars in Excel, Microsoft Word, or through free online platforms!
Pro tip: Color code your marketing strategies by platform or target market to make sure you’re meeting your organization’s marketing goals.
We hope we’ve convinced you that a marketing strategy is not only important for your nonprofit organization, but that it’s achievable with limited time and resources as well!
Memory Fox makes nonprofit marketing easy by simplifying the process to gather, organize and share your storytelling content. To get started, schedule a demo with us today!