3 Must-Ask Questions to Create a Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Marketing - Nonprofits

Most Nonprofit organizations struggle with the same core problem: how do we get our message out there and help as much as possible, with such a shoestring budget? This is why marketing your nonprofit in the most efficient way possible is vital. These are the 3 go-to questions we ask our nonprofit clients when we start creating a marketing plan for their organization. What is your goal in your marketing? It is so important to get really clear on your goal, because it dictates the rest of the marketing plan. Are you trying to:

  • spread awareness of your organization in your community?
  • get more donors?
  • get more volunteers?
  • reach those who may be in need of your services?

Who is your target audience? The ‘who’ of who you’re trying to reach is just as important as how you’re going to reach them, which comes next. You want to put time, energy, and resources behind reaching the right people, with the right message. Using a customer persona creator, like the one Hubspot made, gives you an awesome framework from which to start. Truly understanding your audience will give you the ability to reach them more easily. How are you going to reach your target audience? You can’t be everywhere at once, especially if you have a limited budget and limited resources. It’s important to figure out which medium will make the biggest impact on your organization, and get that one running smoothly before adding another into the mix. These are the best ways that we’ve found our nonprofit clients have reached their communities, their potential donors, and those who need the help of their mission:

  • Website – This one might seem like a no brainer, but in the past few years we’ve seen a sharp decline in nonprofits perception of their need for a website. Even with social media, a website is still an essential marketing tool. Here you can tell your organization’s story, have a place for visitors to sign up for your email list, and create a one-stop-shop for everything related to your mission. 
  • Instagram – Instagram has three ways to utilize their platform: standard newsfeed, IG Stories, and IGTV. In the newsfeed, you have the opportunity to reach potential followers using engaging content and up to 30 relevant hashtags. In IG stories, you can give your followers a behind the scenes look into how your nonprofit works and they’ve also recently added a donate button, so you can accept donations right from your stories. IGTV was supposed to revolutionize the platform, but it fell short. They haven’t completely done away with it yet, and it may gain some traction in the future, but for right now we don’t recommend it to our nonprofit clients as it requires too much effort and not enough return on investment (ROI).
  • Facebook – Facebook, the grandfather of this social media pod, still matters. Having a page that people can like and follow gives your nonprofit some social proof and some validity. It also gives you one more place to shout about your mission from the rooftops! 
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is, in our opinion, the most underutilized social media platform (though, really, it’s a visual search engine). It has the ability to bring so much traffic to your website, and increase overall visibility of your organization, if used correctly. We recently wrote a blog about using Pinterest effectively in 2020.
  • Twitter – Twitter is still around, and probably will be for the foreseeable future; however, we’ve not seen a benefit from it for any of our nonprofit clients so we’ve stopped recommending it as part of their marketing strategy.
  • Email list – Email lists are one of only two pieces of your internet presence that you actually own. The other is your website. Think about it for a moment: if you spend 12 months growing your Instagram account, and for some reason, your account gets flagged and shut down (it happens sometimes, often for unknown reasons), those 5,000 followers you’ve worked so hard to get are gone and you now have no way to get in touch with them. Now, that 12 months of work was for nothing, because you’ve not captured their contact information in a way that you own. If they’re on your mailing list, you own their contact information and have the ability to communicate directly with them, without having to worry about a social media platform algorithm getting in the way. Our favorite email provider for nonprofits is ConvertKit for its ease of use, automation ability, and analytics.

Properly marketing a nonprofit organization to get results is difficult due to budget constraints and resource restrictions; however, it is not impossible. With a methodical approach and some preplanning, you can create a strategy that exceeds your organization’s goals. We’ve created a handy guide to help you brainstorm these first three steps.