3 Questions to Ask When Marketing Nonprofits

When providing strategy consultations for marketing nonprofits there are three questions I immediately ask before making any recommendations. While they don’t touch on all facets of the organization and its marketing goals, they do help drive the conversation and allow me to identify other opportunities for their marketing plan.

1. How are you telling your story?

When I meet with a client who needs a complete marketing overhaul, the first thing I ask them is how are they conveying their organization’s story? Oftentimes, that can be a difficult question. Nonprofit professionals get so caught up in the day to day and going through the motions, stopping to think about what their intentions are and if their marketing goals align with those intentions is often neglected.

I usually suggest the following to clients who need help telling their story:

Ask your clients to help

Testimonials are marketing gold and can be used in SO many ways and oftentimes, clients are happy to tell their story and feel appreciated. The premium version of Nonprofit Marketing Essentials can help you collect captivating testimonial stories and videos. To learn more about the guide click here

Make sure your mission and purpose is clear

Stories help make it clear to your community what your impact is and that you are touching real lives.

Convey your story in multiple formats

Have a short video explaining what you do, a boilerplate your staff and key volunteers can remember, a social media campaign highlighting success stories. In everything you do, ask yourself:

    •  Does the public know about this? 
    • Why do they need to know about this?
    • How should I convey the message?

The next two questions dive into the important tools used to tell an organization’s story effectively. While the tools can make an impact, I can not stress it enough, if you are not intentional about telling your story and messaging, these marketing tools will not work.

2. How’s your social media?

It is SO important to be intentional with social media. Do not just post to post. Always go for quality over quantity and make sure your posts align with your organization from both a message and branding perspective. When checking in on a client’s social media, I ask them to consider the following:

Identify your channels

First, identify the social media channels your organization uses and how effective each channel is. Are certain channels not producing a valuable return on investment and should be reconsidered? Are there new platforms that provide an opportunity for your nonprofit. When considering which channels to use, it is important to identify your target audience and connect with the platform they are most interested in. Sprout Social lays out demographics for each channel well, you can view the data here

Identify your goals

Second, write down your goals for social media. Do you want to increase fundraising, increase reach or have more follow engagement? Make sure your goals tie into your strategic plan.

Promote Events

When promoting an event, social media should be your best friend. Make sure every event has a Facebook Event Page and you are using Instagram and Facebook stories to promote.

Post with intent

When making your content calendar, ask yourself if everything you are posting is tied to your mission and purpose. If you are posting for the sake of posting, it is time to break that habit. When it comes to social media follow the quality over quantity rule and make sure you are using your platform responsibly.

For the most part, social media is a free tool to increase your audience and should be taken advantage of by every nonprofit organization. Considering the above points will allow you to create an intentional social media strategy that has potential to increase your audience, website traffic and donations. If you’d like to talk more about social strategy or need help creating graphics, I’m happy to help. I also recommend giving my Nonprofit Marketing Essentials a look for content ideas. The premium version includes a content calendar, checklist to help you pick your channels and a template for completing your marketing plan.

3. What’s the situation with your development materials?

Every nonprofit needs a donor packet ready to go at any moment! While I do want to make sure nonprofits also have volunteer and program materials, I start with development because it is often the most overlooked for nonprofits who are too busy serving clients. Development materials are the most important print pieces and where you should invest in quality materials and design. As they say, you have to spend money to make money, right? So, when I’m meeting with a client I ask if they have these things:

Annual Report

Annual reports look different for every organization. It can be an 8.5 x 11 double sided document or a 20 page booklet. You are required to make an annual report anyways, so use it as an opportunity to create a stunning marketing piece that conveys your organization’s impact. The three simple ingredients for a stellar annual report are: stats, testimonials and photos.

Program Brochure

Program brochures are a smart investment because they’re sort of a double whammy. They educate your clients about services but also allow donors to understand your organization and get a feel for your everyday impact.

Annual Appeal

You need to have at least one big ask during the year. It doesn’t necessarily need to tie into end of the year giving and often I recommend it not. Instead pair your big ask with an important time for your organization, that could include a special month or week dedicated to your organization, a big event you have coming up, or your annual fundraiser.

When meeting with a client for the first time who needs help with a complete marketing overhaul, these questions help drive the consultation and allow us to touch on other areas that may need addressed  and tools that would be useful. I recommend asking yourself these questions and seeing where you can be more intentional about your marketing, and if you need help along the way check-out Nonprofit Marketing Essentials or shoot me a message!


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