Your nonprofit pursues a worthwhile mission, and as a marketing professional, it’s up to you to find the unique channels and messages that help current and potential supporters see that. Otherwise, they might take their support to a different organization that better communicates its purpose and inspires its audience to take action.
Not to mention, you’re likely working with limited marketing dollars, meaning the strategies you choose should not only spread the word about your mission, but also help you stretch every dollar in your budget. That way, you can keep current donors and volunteers excited about the mission, inspire new people to support your work, and invest more into other areas of your organization.
As we head into the new year, you’re likely evaluating last year’s successes and shortcomings, making this the perfect time to adjust your marketing strategies. To help, this article will cover some easy and budget-friendly ways to convey your message, inspire supporters, and acquire new donors. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Design and Sell Custom T-Shirts
- Line Up Partnerships with Local Businesses
- Optimize Your Nonprofit’s Website
With 2021 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to kick things into high gear for the upcoming year and throw some new marketing strategies into the mix. If you’re ready to explore some easy opportunities for improvement, let’s get started.
Design and Sell Custom T-Shirts
A comfortable t-shirt is a great addition to anyone’s wardrobe, especially when it represents a good cause! Nonprofits have realized the power that well-designed apparel holds. For one, you’re creating a positive experience for your donors by giving them something in return for their contributions. This makes it easy for supporters to find additional value in their donations.
Plus, when you create t-shirts that are clearly branded to your cause, you reinforce buyers’ commitment to your mission, because they’ll think of your organization every time they wear the shirt. Arguably the greatest benefit of custom t-shirts is their marketing power. When others see people wearing the branded t-shirt in public, it’s free advertising for your nonprofit. This could easily spark a conversation or inspire others to research your organization on their own and become new supporters. It’s the ultimate marketing and fundraising idea rolled into one!
To get the most out of your apparel, you need to put thought into your design and how you’ll offer the products to supporters. Here are a few ways to make sure that your t-shirts are a valuable asset to your marketing strategy:
- Emphasize your cause in the design. If you want potential supporters to spark conversations with people wearing your t-shirts, it needs to be clear that your organization designed them. Connect it to your cause by including your organization’s logo, name, official colors, taglines, or any other recognizable elements.
- Have supporters sell the product. Encourage supporters to get in on the action and sell your t-shirts on your behalf with peer-to-peer fundraising. This will get your current supporters engaged with your fundraising campaign by giving them hands-on responsibility, and you’ll tap into their networks of friends and family, spreading your message even further.
If your t-shirts are popular among your supporters, consider expanding to other types of products that help get the word out while raising funds for your cause. T-shirts will likely be the most beneficial type of merchandise for marketing since they have plenty of design space and will naturally be shown off, but you can also spread the word with products like hats, tote bags, and mugs. See what your supporters are interested in buying, and start building out your store.
Line Up Partnerships with Local Businesses
If you’ve spent any time in the nonprofit sector, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard about corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR refers to for-profit businesses’ duty to give back to their communities by supporting worthwhile causes. Businesses donate and encourage employees to regularly volunteer at nonprofits for many reasons, some of which include:
- Increasing workplace engagement by supporting the causes employees care about
- Developing a positive brand image in the community
- Supporting nonprofits whose missions align with the company’s priorities
Forming partnerships is a great way to leverage corporate philanthropy in your marketing efforts, and it’s an easy proposition that companies will want to get on board with. It’ll allow you to develop a strong, reliable pipeline of volunteers and donors who are motivated to help your mission succeed.
Here are a few ways you can identify potential partners and present your case for support:
- Ensure compatibility. If you notice that some of your supporters work for the same company, that could indicate that they have peers who share their values. When you’ve identified a few local businesses that might be interested in a partnership, look into their company’s mission and values. Any potential partner should have values that align with your organization’s. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for a nature conservation organization to partner with an oil company.
- Rely on your connections. If you have a few potential partners in mind, take a look at your constituent database and see if you have any connections that would be willing to facilitate an introduction. This could include committed donors, volunteers, and board members.
- Offer different partnership opportunities. There are a variety of ways that companies can give to your organization. One of the most well-known is sponsorships, where partners fund specific programs or events. You might also want to encourage other ways of supporting your cause, though. This could include volunteer programs, where the company encourages employees to volunteer at a public event or organize dedicated volunteer days. It might also include supporting workplace giving, where they encourage employees to donate or offer to match their contributions to your nonprofit.
No matter how you go about it, just remember that these relationships should be mutually beneficial. Make sure your corporate partners are benefiting from their support, primarily by offering them advertising space. When companies see it as a valuable opportunity, they’ll naturally want to jump on board.
Optimize Your Nonprofit’s Website
One of the best ways to build your audience and stay connected with current supporters is to leverage one of the resources you already have: your nonprofit’s website. Your website is the online hub for your organization. It keeps your audience informed about the initiatives you’re pushing forward and enables donors, volunteers, and any other supporter to discover opportunities to get involved.
With all the potential your website holds, not optimizing it to meet your audience’s needs, drive conversions, and be easily navigable is a missed marketing opportunity. As you touch up your website, consider these optimization strategies:
- Leverage visuals. The right pictures can illustrate your cause and tap into people’s emotions, inspiring them to engage with your cause. Visuals are important in all of your marketing collateral, especially your website. Veer away from stock photos and choose images of real people when possible. This could include staff members, donors, volunteers, and those who benefit from your work.
- Learn how to optimize for search engines. Leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) best practices will help you connect with people who search for keywords related to your cause. Loop’s guide to nonprofit website best practices explains a few different ways you can create a site that’s appealing to search engines and users alike. Some of these include refreshing content to signal that everything’s up-to-date. Another includes conducting keyword research for terms related to your cause to discover the type of content people are actually searching for. Then, develop content that targets those keywords, so you can get in front of potential supporters.
- Maintain an updated blog. A well-maintained blog is a great way to signal to search engines and users that your website is up-to-date. Plus, it’s a great way to drive traffic to your site when you share it across other channels. To create valuable content that encourages people to continually visit your site, develop a content calendar to help distribute your posts over time. Make sure to feature a variety of content, too. This might include project updates that explain how donors’ and volunteers’ contributions are helping. You might also post supporter spotlights where you highlight a standout supporter every month.
- Drive traffic through other channels. Chances are, your organization balances plenty of different marketing channels like social media and email. Make sure you funnel readers back to your website, encouraging them to use it as an updated source for all things related to your organization. For instance, you might share your latest blog post across social media or feature a call-to-action in your monthly email newsletter that asks people to register for an upcoming event.
Whether you need to do a complete overhaul or just make some minor tweaks, make sure your website is fully equipped to drive traffic and deliver an exceptional user experience. Of course, these are just a few best practices to bear in mind when updating your site, so make sure you’re regularly researching the latest nonprofit website design trends.
Heading into 2022, marketing should be at the top of your priority list. For your organization to grow and thrive, you need to put the time and effort into getting your cause in front of wider audiences and reinforcing current supporters’ commitment to the cause.
The three avenues that we’ve covered are great additions to your current plans. Between selling high-quality t-shirts and forming valuable partnerships, you’ll be well-equipped to handle anything this year throws your way.