Marketing for Nonprofits – A Small List of Big Deal Items
By Amy Janzen, SARC Communications Coordinator
Marketing for Your Nonprofit Organiztion: Why Should Do It
If you’re running a nonprofit, you likely have a lot going on beyond marketing your organization. Perhaps you find it daunting to tackle all the things that other organizations are doing. Maybe you’re doing some things to promote your organization but aren’t sure how to make sure they work together as part of an overall strategy. Or, perhaps you simply don’t have the time.
Although marketing indeed takes time and there are multiple things that any organization can do to improve their presence, here is just a small list of some big deal items to help you out.
How to Create Quality Content That Readers Will Stick Around For
When developing content for your organization, it’s important to understand that not all content has to hold the essence of a 2,000-word essay, ensuring that no detail is missed. While it’s true that information is king, there can also be too much. Did you know that most readers will abandon an article after around 200-400 words? That’s not a lot of time to get across every piece of information that you might feel compelled to include. But, don’t be discouraged! Rather than including every relevant detail in a blog or long Facebook post, consider releasing the information in small, concise increments. Still with me? Let me explain.
Maybe you need to provide some information to your audience or to various audiences about an upcoming event. First, you’ll need to identify who this message is for and how they best engage with your organization. If you answered, ‘I don’t know, that’s why I’m reading this blog’, then by all means, keep reading. You likely have different audiences; maybe one audience is the people supported through your organization, another might be people seeking support, a third could be members of the community, and fourth might be government officials and local representatives. That’s a lot of people, i.e., that’s a lot of messaging for so many different groups, especially if they’re going to stop reading after 200 words (for reference, I’m at 358 words right now). Feel discouraged? Don’t be! What you can and should do is identify which audience you want to target with each message. That could mean creating a flyer for community members or to display at your organization. Perhaps a personalized email or mail-out letter for your MLA or local government representatives. Or maybe you want to include some details in an online newsletter that could reach all the above. Lastly, you could (and should) place information about the event on your Facebook page or other social media sites for anyone on social media to interact with.
Although it can seem complicated to understand what and how information should be distributed to different groups, the short answer is: provide important pieces in different ways, to different audiences. Keeping in mind that you might write differently for each of these groups can help decide how formal the messaging should be.
Why Your Organization Needs a Website
Although having a website might seem like just another added expense, consider this: when you engage with a new business or organization, how often do your first search for them online? Whether you’re looking for their contact information, services they offer, or upcoming events, not having a website in 2020 limits how others can interact with that organization.
When you go to build a new website or re-design your old website, it’s a good idea to start by identifying your organization’s key features and messaging. For example: does your organization rely on donations? Consider adding a donation button. Does your audience need to stay in the loop through a regular e-newsletter? Add a signup bar for your distribution list. Do you publish regular blogs? Why not place your blog content prominently on your main page. Whatever you identify as the most important messages and features to your organization, make sure it’s prominently placed so that important content is easy to access.
When it comes to what you should put on your website, refer back to the content section. Although it’s tempting to add every single piece of relevant information about your business, the people who work there, and the services you offer, consider offering just a sample of this information: when it comes to marketing, less is definitely more. You want to entice your audience without getting stuck in the weeds.
Although It’s recommended for every organization to have a website, if that’s not available for you right now, due to time and/or resources, consider updating claiming or updating your Google listing. By ensuring that your address is correct and available on your Google Listing, you’re ensuring that anyone needing to contact you or stop by your organization, can. Ready to claim your Google Listing? Follow this step-by-step guide from The Balance Small Business.
Quality Photos and Videos Help You Share Your Story
Chances are, as a community-based nonprofit organization, your audience wants to engage and interact with the work you’re doing. There’s simply no better way to do this than by sharing photos and videos. Whether you’ve just finished an exciting event that you want to share with the world, your organization or someone you support reached an incredible milestone, or you simply want to share what you all had for lunch on Monday; providing a window into your organization makes people happy. Plain and simple.
Although it’s tempting to go out and buy expensive equipment, you don’t have to! For most purposes, smartphones have some of the best quality cameras on the market today and are incredibly accessible for posting straight to social media. If you want to learn how to best use your smartphone to take great pictures or videos, there are plenty of online training courses or YouTube videos, but the best and easiest way to learn is by doing.
Videos are another great way to showcase information about your organization in a fun and engaging way. For most day-to-day video creation, all you need to do is grab your smartphone, wait for a memorable moment, and film it. These videos, especially if you’re using them to showcase life at your organization, can easily be placed onto social media or out to your audience in a newsletter.
Remember, as fun as it is to share videos and photos about everyone at your organization with your entire audience, ensuring that you have signed consent is good practice as not everyone is comfortable with their picture publicly shared. Although using someone else’s image to promote your organization is a great way to get your message across, you need to ensure that they’re okay with being your spokesperson. To cover yourself and your organization in the event that they’re not comfortable, asking them to sign a form stating that they approve of having their photo shared is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. If you aren’t sure what to put on a consent form, the Government of Canada has forms for both youth and adult consent available for public use.
Practice Makes Perfect
At the end of the day, practice makes perfect. The best way to learn, improve, and grow in your marketing efforts is to start today and try different trends. Pay attention to what other organizations like yours are doing. Follow and engage with them on social media. Check out their website. Subscribe to their e-newsletter. After all, this is how trends start, grow, and evolve. Remember, only you, other staff, and other people at your organization know what works best for you. If someone loves to shine in front of the camera, highlight them. When you need to let your audience know about upcoming events or initiatives you might be holding, update it on your website, share a flyer, and write a social post. At the end of the day, the more you share, the more your audience will grow. Lastly (and more importantly) don’t get hung up on the rules. Be flexible. After all, I started this blog by telling you that people stop reading after 200 words and here we are, 1362 words later.