The inability to have fundraising events and connect face-to-face with donors has hurt many nonprofits and their money-raising efforts. The pandemic changed the way nearly every type of business operates, including charities.
According to Double the Donation, giving grew 4.1% in 2020, marking a sixth consecutive year of increase. The researchers found that most organizations leave a lot of potential funds on the table and don’t follow up to secure the donations.
One reason for the lack of focus may be that the nonprofit looks toward helping the cause they care about. However, if you want to ensure you can continue to help well into the future, you’d be wise to incorporate smart marketing into your daily operations.
The way charities promote their business to the outside world is understandably a bit different than the way a for-profit business would. Here are nine marketing tips to help ensure you survive 2021 and beyond.
1. Set Measurable Goals
You may have a general idea of how much it takes to operate your not-for-profit each year, but what if you set some attainable goals that allow you to help even more? Look back over the past five years to get an idea of how much money you raise each year.
The goals you set should be possible but require a bit more focus and work. So, if you typically see a 2% increase in giving each year, strive for a 3% increase for the year. Write out your goals and share them with your volunteers and staff.
2. Seek Out Grants
Grants give you free money you don’t have to pay back. Rather than bringing in small donations, you get one big chunk of money for improvement projects that could help your nonprofit thrive in the coming years.
Around 57% of companies and foundations have reduced what they ask of charities and lowered restrictions. You may find it easier to qualify for free money.
Appoint someone in your organization to learn about grant-writing. There are specific things you must include, and you must have a plan for how you’ll use the money. Set a goal for the number of grants you’ll apply for, with the understanding you won’t win every one you seek.
3. Ramp Up Marketing Materials
Sponsors want to know about the organization they’re backing. How do the informational materials for your nonprofit stack up? Perhaps your website needs more detail or photos of those you’ve helped.
What are the most common questions people ask before becoming involved with your charity? Create a guide answering those questions. Think about your appearance on all platforms. Is your logo up to par? Do you need to adopt a brand color palette?
4. Create a UVP
Your unique value proposition (UVP) is what makes you stand out from other not-for-profits in your area. Spend time figuring out what the benefits of doing business with you are.
For example, if you run an animal shelter, there may be other shelters in your area. What makes yours different? Do you operate a catch-neuter-release program for feral cats in the vicinity? Perhaps you rehabilitate injured and ferocious animals.
Think about the things you do that no one else does. Which ones will your audience care about?
5. Adopt a Social Media Strategy
Social media can be time-consuming, but it is also a great way to reach a target audience. Know who your typical sponsors are and create content they’d be interested in. Share it on social media and boost posts to get the information in front of the right people.
Plan out specific promotions and when you’ll start talking them up. Use tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule posts ahead of time. Be ready to jump on trends and changes in the industry when needed, though.
Think about the newsworthy items your supporters might be interested in. Share news from other charities who complement your cause.
6. Highlight Results
What is the goal of what you do? Is your purpose to help a specific segment of the community? Gather testimonials from a family you helped get back on their feet after a fire destroyed everything. Share snippets of happily placed rescue animals and how they’re doing now.
The more you can show you use donations wisely, the more likely your followers will entrust you with their contributions. You can also showcase stories on social media to drive more traffic to your site and seek out new followers.
7. Keep a Mailing List
According to Statista, around 61% of people prefer email contact from companies. When you keep a database of your past sponsors, you control communication. Followers on social media may not get all of your messages. You might have to pay to reach your own fans. Social media sites also shut down from time to time.
However, when you keep your own database, you have access to your supporters at any time. Since many people prefer email communication anyway, it only makes sense to start and maintain a strong database.
8. Partner with Other Nonprofits
Look for opportunities to team up with other nonprofit organizations in your area. Find charities complementing what you do. For example, if you run an animal rescue, you might team up with an equine therapy center.
A partnership involves giving one another shout-outs on social media. The equine center would share information about the animal rescue fundraiser. You, in turn, would share information about their next fundraising event. Tap into one another’s sponsors. People tend to give to more than one charity, so this allows you to expand your reach.
9. Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Some studies show peer-to-peer fundraising is quite effective if you run an event regularly. For example, you might host an annual walk to raise money. The first year, you may not earn a lot from the walk, but the second year you’ll begin to see a difference.
The State of Modern Philanthropy found that donors raised more than double the second year of a fundraiser. The ones who returned to make a donation gave more the second year. The reason may simply be more familiarity with the charity and what they’re accomplishing.
Tap into the Resources You Have
Many organizations leave a lot of money on the table simply by not asking for it. Contact your regular sponsors and ask if they’d like to up their giving. Explain your needs and the purpose of the money. Keep communications open with current donors while seeking out new ones.
About the Author: Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.