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Nonprofit Marketing Planning Tips

Did you know that nonprofit marketing follows almost the same standard best practices for marketing, but has its own set of challenges?

If you are tasked with marketing for an NPO, here are some things you can do today.

  1. Check all your “pitch” materials. Are they old, outdated, still containing the (616) area code from 20 years ago? To be seen as a professional and credible entity, your print materials need to be professional and branded with your current brand.
  2. Start an Email Marketing Program. Direct Mail Campaigns still bring the greatest ROI for NPOs but Email Marketing is quickly closing the gap. Providing a way for donors to give, with the simplicity of a click, is showing a much higher ROI, proportionately, than even a hand-addressed letter—to target audiences who report online use.
  3. Review Your CRM platform. Are you collecting emails from your prospects and organizing them in some manner so you can go back and retarget them later? Good for you? Are you collecting phone numbers? Maybe not so much? You should be, because the future of marketing (now) is in texts and messaging, especially for these tenderly nurtured contacts.
  4. You need to enter as many details as possible about your donors into your CRM so you can wish them Happy Birthday, remind them of their last donation date, and so you can make them feel special. That’s what CRM is all about – customer relationships. And in NPO, like nowhere else, maintaining a constant relationship with your donors is critical to future giving.
  5. Strategically structure your Contact Us form. Do you know how people are finding you? Your Contact Us form can provide a wealth of data if it is set up correctly. Under “Where did you hear about us” if you have 30+ choices (like the picture), people will most likely default to “google” or “online” leaving you with little insightful data. IMHO you need to suggest at least Company Website, TV, Radio, Outdoor, Social Media (go ahead and list the channels if you want more detail), and maybe Referral from Friend options. At most, I’d go with 10. Whatever choices you make, decide in advance what information you feel is most critical to collect from these leads to effectively measure your objectives and work toward that goal.
  6. Follow your fans through the bottom of the funnel. Where are they? What have you done for your donors lately? Have you talked to them? Emailed? Sent a letter? Mailed an annual report?

The marketing/sales/donor funnel starts with little interest and progresses through the final purchase or donation decision. Buyers/donors will follow this pattern.

The decision to give is not usually made on impulse so it takes repeated “touches” from you to remind your target audience that you’re out there. (One SMM company predicts a minimum of 7 touches; another says it takes 12; you know your audience best). Offer special peeks at your projects. Share testimonials from beneficiaries of your services. Offer solutions to giving that educate them and help place you as an authority on the subject via a blog or newsletter.

Learn more about the funnel struggles one client faced and how they failed to Follow the Process (with a nod to Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’s The Profit)

Sponsored by the City of South Haven, South Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Michigan College.

Congratulations to Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry for receiving his first loan through Northern Initiatives. With help from his SCORE mentor, Cheri Bales, Gregory did a fantastic job on developing his business plan and showing real entrepreneurial spirit. We wish you much success, and look forward to your upward movement. You are a wonderful role model.

—Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry

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