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:
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.
Take Advantage of Technology Grants
According to Getting Attention, technology grants “focus on assisting organizations with acquiring or implementing tools and software that will further their impact.” These grants make it possible for your nonprofit to access the tools it needs to thrive without needing to cover hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in upfront costs.
One of the most accessible, impactful technology grants is the Google Ad Grants program. For nonprofits that are awarded the grant, they receive a monthly allowance of $10,000 in Google Ad credits. These credits are then used to fund Google Ad campaigns targeting relevant search keywords. When users search terms related to your nonprofit, your ads will appear at the top of the search results page.
Before applying, you’ll need to meet the Google Grant eligibility requirements, including:
- Being a 501(c)(3) organization (note that government, healthcare, and educational institutions are excluded)
- Having a high-quality website complete with ownership of the domain, unique and mission-related content, quick load speeds, limited commercial activity, and an overall positive user experience.
- Being registered with TechSoup, a third-party organization that verifies nonprofits.
- Creating a Google for Nonprofits account once you receive verification.
Once you receive an invitation to join the program, your nonprofit can start selecting relevant keywords and creating engaging ad campaigns that help you expand your audience. To ensure you’re targeting the right terms (and remaining compliant with program guidelines), it can be helpful to work with a marketing consultant or agency specializing in Google Ad Grants.
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.