Creating a spectacular marketing campaign for a non-profit organization with limited resources might feel like an impossible magic trick. With your organization’s mission in mind and donor dollars on the line, where do you even begin? Here are some non-profit marketing tips—no magic wand necessary!
Tell a Story
One of the best tools a nonprofit can use is storytelling. Most people need to feel a connection to your mission before they will consider making a donation, attending an event, or volunteering their time and talents. Storytelling helps people identify with what your non-profit organization does—and the passionate people who have built it. Tapping into staff and volunteers to share their “why” is an easy and logical place to start when building a compelling story. Why did they get involved with your organization? Why is it important to them? Emphasize the experiences of those who benefit from your nonprofit. Whether in a press release or social media post, focus on these stories and let them do the talking.
FusionSpark Meida’s Russell Sparkman, in an article for the Content Marketing Institute, explains how the combination of a clear and worthwhile purpose, in addition to meaningful stories, enables non-profit marketers to create content that might be educational, inspirational, and shareable.
With this in mind, try turning your numbers and goals into a story, too. Saying, “Help us provide warm coats to 200 children this year,” is more tangible than simply saying, “Help us raise $10,000.” The numbers become something real, easier to visualize.
Not only does storytelling make your nonprofit relatable, but each story is unique and helps your organization stand out. I once headed a fundraising walk that doubled as an annual family reunion to honor the grandmother of one of the participating groups. This family’s story became the center of our press release, filling in the walk details around it. It is what made our event stand out among others happening that day and helped us draw media coverage.
Brush Up on Your Social Media Skills
Social media is a great tool to get your organization’s story out there. This is especially true when working on a non-profit marketing budget. To get the most out of it—and save yourself valuable time down the road—start with a plan and create a content bank, along with scheduled posts. Social media is a conversation, so this will ensure that you don’t drop your end of it.
There’s no easy recipe for creating a post that will earn your story prime real estate on followers’ news feeds. But familiarizing yourself with the algorithms of the various social media avenues is a helpful step. For instance, Facebook recently announced that it will begin prioritizing posts from a user’s friends and family over posts from brands and pages. That means the latter will need to produce content that generates more user-interaction and conversation, in order to increase chances of newsfeed distribution.
Visuals are another factor in helping nonprofits get noticed, especially on social media. One potential downfall, however, is that the average non-profit budget often has little or no room for fancy photo or graphic design software. Additionally, they need their stories to stand out among businesses who do. Taking advantage of apps like Canva and Adobe Spark Post can be incredibly useful in this situation. They’re free, fast, and easy ways to design everything from social media graphics to flyers and invitations. Similarly, if you’re struggling for visual content, sites like pexels.com and unsplash.com offer thousands of photos under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning you are free to use them at no cost and with very little restrictions.
Perhaps the most helpful advice for non-profit marketing is remembering that you’re not alone. Chances are there are many people across various fields who can identify with your mission and benefit your organization. Always be on the lookout to partner up. Whether it’s with other nonprofits, people in commerce, government, advertising and media companies, or even with seemingly unrelated businesses, both large and small. Finding these connections can bring significant rewards for your nonprofit. Whether they be in the form of publicity and resources or simply more hands to share the workload.
Learn To Let Go
This final tip is sometimes the hardest—prioritize and let go. We can’t always do it all, although we like to think we can. Those working with a nonprofit are often juggling many things at one time, so be honest with yourself. Which one or two aren’t going to make or break a project if you willingly put them down? It’s better to let go of the ones you can live without than, while juggling them all, drop the most important.
Meet the Author
Megan Schlosser Filak earned a degree in journalism from American University in Washington, DC., after which she spent five nights a week bringing together thousands of people across all walks of life for her news broadcast. From politicians and artists to store clerks and business leaders, she sought to hold the attention of her diverse audience, make engagement a personal experience, and interact through social media. Doing so kept her newscast at the top of ratings.
When Megan chose to retire her producer role after nearly a decade in newsroom, the skills she counted on to seek out and tell countless stories to thousands of viewers helped her as she took on new roles. Since then, Megan has utilized her creativity and quick thinking to plan, promote, and execute successful fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. She now works full time in destination marketing, where she seeks out new and exciting ways to promote her area to both visitors and locals.