A Strategic Marketing
Guide for Nonprofits

Just like a for-profit, your nonprofit organization is a brand, but more emotional. Your nonprofit brand may not offer a physical benefit, such as quenching thirst or wicking sweat. However, it provides something even better – a great emotional feeling for those who support the cause.

Now when planning brand marketing for your nonprofit, treat it just like you would a for-profit business:

Develop a Strategic Marketing Plan with effective strategies.

Defining your key brand awareness programs, just like any other business or company should, is the first step. Actively marketing these programs will raise brand awareness and, in turn, spread the word about your organization and your overall cause. This will not only motivate existing donors to give more, but it will also attract potential donors with new messaging.

Example: Monthly Giving Programs

For example, engaging donors in new recurring Monthly Giving Programs is an effective tactic, because repeated monthly giving creates a continual stream of funds. This can take some of the constant burden of actively and frequently fundraising off your organization.

And as the average monthly online donation is $52 ($624 per year), compared to the average one-time gift of $128, monthly programs can actually help you raise more money.

Marketing these types of monthly programs can create a stronger connection between you and your donors. And drawing donors closer to your organization can lead to an increase annual memberships, monthly giving, or one-time gifts for specific programs.

Program marketing will also benefit your cause by engaging fresh perspectives. Donors will gain a better understanding of how they can consistently contribute. And monthly programs also have the added benefit of attracting volunteers.

7 Strategic Marketing Steps

Gaining people's support without expecting anything in return can be tricky. However, successful strategies can be developed by creating relevant content and targeting the right audience. The following are 7 basic steps all nonprofit organizations should take when developing their strategic marketing plan.

1) Establish an Engaging Online Presence

Develop an engaging and refreshed online presence beginning with an active website. Renew some of the page content with new stories and post weekly blogs (like you’re reading right here!). Create a content calendar for your website. The more you update it, the better the search engine will optimize your presence. And this will increase your highly sought-after SEO rating.

2) Create a Continuous Social Media Posting Cadence

Update your social media channels regularly. This includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube and potentially TikTok (depending on your target) for video. Use your website content calendar to determine when to post new content on social media. This will increase the chance of your audience-centric content being liked and shared and will help broaden your reach.

3) Use Automated Marketing Tools

Invest in a good, automated marketing tool or CRM (customer relationship management tool) for your email marketing. Basic automated marketing tools are MailChimp and Constant Contact. More robust CRMs are products like HubSpot and Salesforce that help manage sales leads in addition to automated marketing.

CRMs provide a variety of useful tools

These CRMs also provide tools to help with blog post publishing, SEO, ad tracking, social media platform management and video production . They collected data and segment customers, or in the case of nonprofits – donors and supporters – giving insights into the preferences potential supporters want in campaign content and messaging.

Their behaviors and preferences are then stored in the marketing CRM – even very specific details, like if someone prefers receiving static or visual content in the marketing campaign. This also lets team members gain insight into the potential supporter’s progress in the conversion journey, and it helps the team seamlessly nurture these prospects.

4) Set Up Segmented, Persona-Driven Email Workflows

Details gathered from your CRM can let you group types of donors that respond similarly to your various outreaches. You can then use this donor “persona” information to create email workflows that are more tailored to specific personas’ preferences in either an automated marketing platform or CRM.

You may find different demographic and psychographic segments engage differently with different programs. Each of these programs needs to be cultivated based on its own unique persona. Thus, crafting outreach based around donor personas can help you create communications that connect with these different segments on a variety of levels.

Use persona info to help nurture leads to become donors

You’ll also continue to gain information that will help you further target donors. For example, data may show that a lead inquired about a specific program. Automation tools can be used to provide more information about that program and nurture that lead to become a donor, and then a member.

6) Personalize Your Paid Media Ad Campaign

The material you create in the ad campaign should be easy to relate to. Use stories about real people and the effect your organization has had on them. You can even customize your message to each group you're aiming for, allowing you to use a variety of stories across different platforms to target different audience segments.

7) Track Engagement and the Results

Using basic tools like Google Analytics and Google Ad tracker can help you understand which creative campaign ideas are most effective. Google Analytics will help you understand which platforms are driving the most traffic and what works best on each platform – even identifying the engagement difference between video and static ads.

There are a lot of smart strategies nonprofits can borrow from for-profits

Define your marketing plan objectives, your strategies and the core programs that will draw volunteers and donors to your cause-driven organization. Create that emotional hook in your ad campaign and use it on your website and in your organic social. You have a great cause! Hook them, pull them in, and help your nonprofit – and your cause – thrive!

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