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Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations

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July 16, 2020

Working with nonprofits of all sizes has taught me one thing: Nonprofits need advertising, just like businesses. These are the basics to building an effective NPO campaign.

Marketing is as important for nonprofit organizations as it is for businesses. I have had the privilege and opportunity to work with local, national, and global nonprofit organizations in various capacities over the last two decades. One thing remains true for all: without awareness for their cause, nonprofits cannot draw in donors or volunteers.

With already stretched budgets, it can be a challenge finding a way to allocate funds towards consistent and meaningful marketing. Not to mention the overwhelming landscape of options out there. The adage goes– it takes on average 7 touch points for people to act. The more you can get your name, brand, and story in front of your targeted audience, the more likely they are to engage with you, share your mission, and become consistent donors.

So, where should a nonprofit start?
Determine your target audience. Who are you trying to reach, and what action do you want them to take? Do you want them to donate, volunteer, or join your organization? Knowing everything about your audience will help determine the best ways to reach them. 

How can nonprofits create awareness?
You can think about building awareness as casting a wide net. Traditional forms of marketing may come to mind first; TV, radio, magazines, mailers. We call these “Awareness Channels,” and there are more than you might think. There are a few key terms to examine when comparing Awareness Channels for your NPO:

  • Ad Impressions: Views
    Most advertising media is sold in terms of ad impressions, which are essentially ad views. When buying ad space, think of one impression as one person viewing your ad.
  • CPM: Cost per 1,000 Impressions
    Once you know your impression count, compare that number to the total cost. What value are you getting for each impression? Where are you getting the most visibility, and at what cost?
  • CPC: Cost per Click
    CPC is a digital-only term, as it describes what the cost for one person to click an ad. Banner ads are a cost effective and targeted way to reach your target audience, where they spend time online.
  • Build a Dashboard
    You don’t have to track all this yourself. There are several companies who provide marketing dashboards, and many are free. Google Analytics dashboard is the best place to start.

Should nonprofits use social media?
Yes. We recommend a social media content calendar and selective boosted posts. Create content that that gets people’s attention, that can be shared. This is your chance to give people a deeper understanding of your mission and how to get involved, and gives them a peek into day-to-day operations.

As a nonprofit, you also have an even greater opportunity to gain “earned” media. This is content shared by your followers because it tugs on their heart strings. While Facebook limits the amount of organic (free) sharing you can achieve, as a nonprofit, you should look to create content that really engages people emotionally and compels them to share and spread the word.

What else can we do to get donations?
At the final point of decision making - paid search, email marketing and an optimized website can all make the final push to donate.

How much should nonprofits spend on marketing?
You don’t have to spend a lot to achieve saturation. Check out our free webinar series, DigitalMarketing 101, to learn more about complementary forms of marketing that fit within your budget.

Finally, a robust PR strategy is a must when it comes to making sure all of your views are meaningful and drive towards action.Look for opportunities to engage with local media outlets and strive to cultivate some meaningful relationships with your local news agencies.

Contact the Author

It’s an honor and privilege to build awareness for all of our clients, as they serve their community in various ways. When we work with a nonprofit, we go through the same process we would when onboarding a business. Strategy, custom creative, precision targeting - where targeting customers becomes reaching donors. Check out a case study to see what one nonprofit’s monthly result with banner ads looked like.

Nonprofits aren’t immune to the challenges that businesses face when it comes to marketing efficacy and reach.  We appreciate the opportunity to be one piece of the marketing puzzle in a targeted, creative and affordable way. If your nonprofit has questions on anything we’ve shared, let’s chat! I’d love to help you ideate.