A major part of building your nonprofit’s case for support and fundraising Asking Rights™ is establishing your organization’s credibility. After all, would you donate to a nonprofit that you aren’t fully confident will get the job done?
That being said, it’s up to your nonprofit to spread the word about your initiatives, achievements, and community to the public. So, it helps to add marketing collateral to your outreach strategy that focuses solely on advertising your credibility and acquiring new donors, or as Convergent likes to refer to them, investors. While this type of marketing content differs from your direct appeal fundraising marketing strategies, the end goal is the same: spreading your story and mission to attract the support of like-minded people.
It can seem daunting to adopt a new marketing approach, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk through these pro tips:
- Thoroughly plan your marketing campaign
- Use professional and recognizable branding
- Take a people-first approach
- Write educational blog content
- Collaborate with nonprofit thought leaders
Whether you’re branding yourself or working with a nonprofit marketing agency, implementing these tips will hone your strategy and cement your nonprofit’s presence in the community.
1. Thoroughly plan your marketing campaign
All successful nonprofit marketing campaigns are carefully researched, planned, and expanded over time to achieve the best outcomes. According to Double the Donation, your nonprofit marketing plan should cover at least the following aspects:
- Your nonprofit’s goals: This section should include both your campaign-specific goals and overarching nonprofit goals so you can clearly evaluate how this campaign supports your big-picture objectives.
- Your key performance indicators (KPIs): Establish your KPIs for the campaign based on your goals. These could be anything from the total number of new investors gained from the campaign to your nonprofit’s follower count increase on social media.
- Your budget: It can be challenging to forecast costs ahead of time, especially if you’re trying out new marketing strategies. But, you can use your financial data from previous campaigns to estimate your recurring expenses and estimates for your emergency fund size.
- The initiatives you’re promoting: These should be your most successful programs that reinforce your fundraising asking rights.
- The results of your audience research: Get in the headspace of your target audience by reporting on their average demographics and interests. You can gather this information by organizing a focus group or by sending a survey to your current investors.
- The channels that your target audience prefers: Is your target audience most active on social media, or do they prefer direct-mail appeals? Consider which channels have the highest engagement rates and pick them for the campaign accordingly.
Once you’ve outlined your marketing plan with your nonprofit’s credibility in mind, it’s time to create your content.
2. Use professional and recognizable branding
Studies show that people can make a judgment about a subject’s trustworthiness within 100 milliseconds of seeing them for the first time. That leaves your nonprofit with very little room for error, meaning you need to make a great impression instantly. That’s where the importance of nonprofit branding comes into play.
Your brand is a visual representation of your nonprofit’s values and identity. It encompasses everything from graphic design to your mission statement, but we’ll focus on the design element in this section as this is the very first exposure to your nonprofit many potential investors get. To instantly gain your audience’s trust, ensure your visual brand has:
- Consistent coloring and typography
- Graphic design iterations to brand all deliverables, from business cards to posters
- A logo and tagline that align with your nonprofit’s focus
Ultimately, your branding should look aesthetically appealing and unique to your nonprofit so that others can instantly recognize your public and professional persona. If you’re unfamiliar with graphic design elements and need help getting started, consider consulting a marketing agency that can help you determine the look and feel of your branding.
3. Take a people-first approach
The best way to win buy-in from prospective investors is to leverage external stories from your beneficiaries that showcase the outcomes your organization is providing. For instance, you could include the following in your marketing materials:
- Testimonials from beneficiaries
- Case studies of your initiatives in action
- Growth of your beneficiary and supporter communities over time
- General data about your cause
It’s one thing for your president to tout your nonprofit’s effectiveness and achievements, but it’s another entirely for beneficiaries to tell emotional stories about how you changed their lives along side specific investable outcomes. Pairing the emotional value of storytelling with the bottomline implication of a rational appeal will strengthen your ability to attract investment.
To select your impact stories, poll your supporters and beneficiaries to determine the most influential experiences to retell. Then, once you’ve obtained your subject’s permission to be promoted via your marketing channels, record their story on video. This content allows you to either make a long-form interview-style video or write it up as website or social media content. Whichever format you choose, ensure you let the subject do the talking to give the content authenticity.
4. Write educational blog content
Your nonprofit can prove that you know what you’re talking about by educating readers about your cause or other nonprofit sector best practices. Plus, you can do it straight from your existing website by starting a blog. Besides bolstering your thought leadership, hosting educational blog articles can:
- Boost your website’s search engine ranking: According to Fifty & Fifty, less than 1% of web surfers look for results on Google’s second page of search results. The Google algorithm favors user-friendly content made with human readers in mind, so you can increase your visibility with well-written blog posts.
- Help forge connections with other nonprofit influencers: Once your blog gains traffic over time, you can host guest posts authored by your influential nonprofit colleagues from other organizations. This not only associates you with renowned experts in your field but allows you to attract their audience as well.
- Be part of your investor appreciation program: Publicly showing your gratitude to your loyal investors by featuring them on your blog will make them feel special and share the content to their personal networks.
When creating your blogroll, ensure that your branding is present on every page and the content is well-written. This means it’s free of technical jargon, grammatical errors, or AI-generated fluff, as all of these factors can harm your search engine ranking.
As you create and iterate upon your reputational marketing strategies, remember that marketing is a two-way street. It’s one thing to catch your potential investors’ attention with your marketing materials, but it’s another to keep them engaged as you guide them through the donation pipeline. To strengthen your relationship with prospects, check your email, phone messages, and social media messages frequently to answer any questions and establish a friendly cadence. This will fortify your nonprofit’s reputation as trustworthy, genuine, and passionate, validating your case for support throughout the community.