Many nonprofit organizations believe that, because they do not generate revenue, they don’t need to market their services. While that is a seemingly reasonable thought, it is actually misguided.
Marketing is possibly more important for nonprofit organizations than for other businesses because not-for-profits rely so heavily on donors and volunteers to keep them running. And people won’t know about these institutions and their causes without proper marketing. Building community awareness about nonprofit organizations and the causes they address is essential to their success.
Marketing Strategies for Nonprofits
There are many ways for nonprofit organizations to employ marketing, but to maximize its effectiveness, they first need to identify an appropriate target audience. For example, when promoting a meal delivery program for the elderly, you would need to market to the older generation and their families. Once a target audience is clearly defined, marketing becomes easier.
Consistent communication between the organization and those to whom they are marketing is also important. Messaging should be uniform whether communicated through newsletters, print ads, television commercials, or social media.
And speaking of social media, that marketing approach is quickly becoming one of the fastest, most cost-effective, and wide-reaching ways for nonprofits to reach a target audience. Facebook advertising, for example, allows marketers to target specific age groups or regions—and to adjust messaging accordingly.
Another highly influential nonprofit marketing tactic is cause marketing. Cause marketing allows nonprofits to partner with for-profit companies to raise funds and awareness for the charity’s cause. Cause marketing benefits the nonprofit organization by promoting its mission, and it helps businesses generate goodwill that reflects positively on their products and services.
Making and distributing videos through webpages, social media posts, and public forums is another influential way for nonprofit organizations to market themselves. Scott Harrison, founder of the nonprofit, “Charity: Water,” uses videos during his presentations that show people suffering the effects from a lack of water. The powerful images evoke emotion in his audience members, encouraging them to donate. Videos are also useful for explaining your organization’s mission and retelling its history.
My Mother’s Advice
There are many effective strategies for promoting nonprofit organizations, but choosing to forgo marketing altogether is not a wise option. My mother always said, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” And while that adage applies equally to marketing, the more important suggestion is to “say something.”
Without marketing, not only will you fail to reach donors and volunteers, but you’ll miss reaching those who could benefit most from your organization’s services.