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Every nonprofit loses a donor or donors at some point. Sadly, some donors leave because we didn’t do a good job keeping them engaged. Maybe this was caused by lack of staff, or high turnover, or poor nonprofit marketing practices, or just simply neglect. Nonetheless, it happened, so now we need to find a way to reconnect with past donors and rebuild trust.
Capture the attention of past donors with visual content and performance outcomes
To build trust with donors and keep them donating to the nonprofit, we need to be transparent with how we spend their donations and keep them updated on our progress. If they know they have made a good investment, they are more likely to continue investing.
So, to re-engage with past donors, we need to keep this same strategy top of mind. Do this by creating engaging content that brings past donors up to date on what they’ve missed. Highlight your progress over a specific time period, and include a sincere note of thanks from the executive director or board chair.
Below is an example video created by Young Vision Africa. The video tells the story of their progress and provides a peek into what they are planning for the future. It tells past donors that their money was well spent. The “look ahead” into the future gives past donors ideas for how they can get involved again.
Young Vision Africa - Our progress since 2011 - YouTube
In the example above, the video was sent to past donors via an email from the executive director and serves as a key marketing piece for the nonprofit. It is also embedded into a landing page on the nonprofit’s website. The landing page includes a personal note from the executive director and is complemented by other visual components that tell their story of success. The page ends with a clear call-to-action.
Click on the image to see the nonprofit’s landing page.
What stands out most with Young Vision Africa is that within just a few minutes of being on the landing page, you feel like you know the leadership team, you feel like you know the audience they serve, and you can see how valuable your contribution is regardless of how much you donate.
Use Mission-Focused Content, Content Heroes, and Impact Statements to re-establish trust
Click above to watch the detailed training about mission-focused content design.
The strategy begins by identifying a content hero. Content heroes are people who are connected to the nonprofit, such as staff, volunteers, board members, donors, sponsors, or others. They are the human face of the content.
The next step is to write the message. Design the message to focus on how the content hero is involved in the nonprofit, and also highlight a specific outcome that is important to donors and supporters.
The final step is to include a call-to-action. What do you want your audience to do? Get a bigger ROI on your marketing by sending the audience to a landing page that continues to tell the story and provides a mechanism for donating.
Mission-focused content is valuable multi-purposeful content, and it can be used across a variety of marketing channels. Let’s look at an example below.
The content above:
Is visually captivating and engaging. In just this one image, the content tells a complete story.
Includes a content hero: The VC Reading Team. This puts a face(s) to the hard work the nonprofit is doing, and in many cases, donors will recognize the content hero.
Shares the outcomes and impact of the program. This proves the nonprofit operates in transparency and is working hard to perform at its best. It shows the donation was a good investment and is making an impact.
Links to more detailed information. The content connects viewers to a landing page that includes more information and strategic calls-to-action.
Can be used on multiple channels. Use this content in a newsletter, email campaign, across social channels, as a direct mail piece, as a handout at events, and more.
Content Design Source: This content was created using the free tool Canva.
Create a Formal Marketing and Fundraising Plan to Prevent Donor Neglect
We all know it’s far easier and less costly to retain an existing donor than it is to recruit a new one. If your nonprofit is not following a formal plan to keep donors engaged, change that! The more organized you are with your marketing efforts, the more streamlined and self-sustaining the process is.
Launch your nonprofit’s strategic marketing and fundraising plan in less than 30 days with the Nonprofit Marketing Academy’s most popular online course. The course includes free group coaching, a private membership group, a free marketing campaign management platform, and access to hundreds of free marketing tools. The course is self-paced and is available on demand.
Save time, money, and your sanity. Learn more about the course and watch one lesson for free.
Years ago, while serving as a board member for a small local nonprofit, I witnessed what frustrates many nonprofit marketers and fund developers. We were in a board meeting, and the CEO introduced the new development officer. After which, the development officer launched into her opening remarks and shared some lofty fundraising and marketing ideas. She was super excited and her excitement was refreshing, but it was not well-received by her audience.
We were a group of seasoned board members who had ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ with fundraising. We were tired of the “let’s try this” approach. Over the years, we had seen our share of development officers come and go. So while this new development officer was enthusiastic and certainly had good intentions, all that the board members saw was a long list of ideas with limited resources to back them up. Lots of effort and little return.
After the introductions, the board members barraged the development officer with questions.
Sounds like a lot of work. Will you have volunteers helping you?
Have you seen these ideas work with other nonprofits?
What is the average money raised from each of these events?
Our new development officer was discouraged and undoubtedly saddened that her ideas weren’t greeted with enthusiasm and strong support. She was deflated from the board’s initial reaction, and I didn’t want her to lose hope. Since I was the board member in charge of the board fundraising committee, I spoke up and suggested that the new development officer and I get together and work on the next steps before spending more time on the topic.
So how could we have avoided all of this strife? Let’s walk through the solutions to the issue.
1. First, meet with your CEO and then each department leader
If you are new to the position of a fundraiser, do this in the first week of your employment. If you have been in the role for years and are struggling with leadership buy-in, start with this step. This type of meeting may already be a part of the onboarding process at your nonprofit, but it is a crucial step for fundraising success. Let’s call them fundraising discovery meetings. In these individual meetings with leaders, your goal is to uncover the fundraising story of your nonprofit from different perspectives and gauge their levels of engagement. Below are some questions for starting the meetings.
What do you see as the biggest fundraising challenges for this nonprofit?
What fundraising events or initiatives have produced the biggest revenue? Why do you think that is? What did you like about each of them?
How involved are your department’s employees in fundraising?
How involved are you (the department leader) in fundraising?
How involved are you willing to be? Why?
Last question: As you finish a meeting and discover that a leader is simply either not involved with fundraising or is not as involved as you need them to be, ask them this question…
What can I do, or what do you need help with to get you and your team to be more involved in fundraising? What would make it easier for you?
If the leader is already actively involved, ask them this question…
How can we make participating in fundraising easier for you and your staff?
Fundraising discovery meetings will uncover a wealth of detail. When you meet with your team, you will uncover the large and small challenges with fundraising for your nonprofit. But don’t look at these as challenges; look at them as reasons that you can fix. Each of your department leaders has their own reason for supporting or not supporting fundraising. Our job as development officers is to move everyone to enthusiastically supporting fundraising. And we do this by listening, engaging, and providing the tools and resources they need.
When people are frustrated about doing something, they most often don’t have the resources or skills they need to do it successfully. They need someone to listen and help. In your meetings with department leaders, you will be given plenty of ideas for fundraising, but it doesn’t mean you have to implement all of their suggestions. It is just important to listen and to consider their suggestions.
2. Meet with each board member individually
Nonprofit board members get involved with the nonprofit for their own reasons. Uncover their reason and cultivate it. Find out what each board member hopes to personally gain from their involvement. Here are some questions to get you started at these individual board member meetings:
What drew you to support our nonprofit?
What are your biggest fundraising challenges?
What is your biggest professional challenge right now? (You may be able to host an event that helps them with their business challenge.)
Introduce the concept of audience-focused fundraising events to board members. What types of audience-focused events would they support most?
Are you comfortable with our publically sharing about you and the important work you do for our nonprofit? If so, what do you think is the best way to tell your story? (For this question, provide examples of ideas such as a newsletter story, social media posts, an interview in a blog post, or an interview with the CEO on the nonprofit’s podcast.)
Here are some examples of board member mission-focused content that promotes the nonprofit and the board member:
Example board member content for social media, newsletter and an email campaign. Link this content back to the board member page with a call to action.
Example board member content in the form of an advertorial (magazine like content). Link this to a landing page, and it with exhibits, presentations, newsletter mailings, and social media.
3. Create a Revenue-Generating Marketing & Fundraising Plan that is Attainable and Measurable
The discovery meetings with your nonprofit team and board members will result in a long list of fundraising ideas. These meetings will also reveal a list of the resources, training and support your team needs to be successful with fundraising. Combine the list of fundraising ideas from your meetings with any ideas you’ve uncovered during your fundraising research. It’s now time to evaluate all of the fundraising ideas to identify which ones will produce the most revenue.
What are your nonprofit’s annual business goals? Which of the ideas will best help support these goals?
What is your required annual fund development goal?
What events or initiatives from your list seem to raise the most funds?
Were any fundraising ideas suggested by more than one person?
Which types of audience-focused fundraising events were most appealing?
Which of the fundraising events or programs seem to fit best with your community’s demographics?
Research these types of events to identify other nonprofits (not in your local area) that are successfully raising money with these events. Find out how much they are raising with the event by reviewing the 990, Annual Report, or Social Channels. Alternatively, contact the fund development officer for the nonprofit and inquire about the revenue. In exchange, offer to share some of your event ideas with them.
Create your master list of fundraising initiatives, and complete your nonprofit marketing and fundraising plan. Use the Nonprofit Marketing Academy’s two-page Marketing and Fundraising Plan as a template, if needed.
In your plan, include the following detail for each fundraiser, campaign or fundraising initiative. As your team completes a fundraising initiative, adjust the figures in the report to match actual outcomes.
Example content to use when reporting about fundraising and marketing campaigns.
4. Present the Marketing and Fundraising Plan to the internal leadership team and board of directors
In the example above, the detail included for each marketing and fundraising initiative is the exact detail leadership needs so they can see the value of the initiatives and the return on investment. Each campaign will support one or more business goals, which in turn supports the nonprofit’s overall mission. Each campaign is goal-oriented and measurable. Most important, they are adjustable. If any of the marketing tactics are not working or producing the needed results, they can be examined, adjusted and tweaked, or canceled. This ensures the nonprofit is not wasting money or time on ineffective marketing.
5. Use a Project Management Tool to Turn the Plan into Action
Once you have buy-in from leadership and the board of directors, it’s time to assemble your teams. A marketing lead should oversee all of the marketing efforts, however, each campaign can have different team members (staff, volunteers, board members) in addition to the marketing lead. By diversifying the teams based on the campaign and interests of team members, you can avoid burnout and frustration.
For best practices, use a project management platform like Asana to build out your campaigns and engage the team. At this time, you will transfer each campaign to the project management tool and begin developing the tasks and action items.
You are ready! Learn step by step how to build a high-revenue nonprofit marketing and fundraising plan in our most popular online course. Watch a free lesson here and access our two-page Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Plan.
So what’s missing? What else can you think of to help gain buy-in for marketing efforts from your nonprofit’s leadership team?
Every budget planning season nonprofit leaders have a choice to make.
Do we spend what we need on overhead expenses? Or, do we spend what looks good?
Many choose the latter, but that is neither a wise choice nor a necessary choice.
The IRS breaks down a nonprofit’s expenses into three categories: program expenses, administrative expenses, and fundraising expenses. Program expenses are all the expenses related to carrying out your nonprofit’s core mission or the services you deliver. Administrative expenses cover your nonprofit’s overall management and operations, such as accounting, legal services, and human resources. Fundraising expenses are all the expenses related to raising money for the nonprofit, such as conducting fundraising campaigns, maintaining donor lists and other related donor activities, and organizing and hosting fundraising events.
What expenses are included in a Nonprofit’s Overhead Budget?
The administrative and fundraising expenses are combined to make up a nonprofit’s operating expenses or otherwise called ‘overhead.’ Your overhead expenses are what particularly draw attention from donors and funders because they want to see if you are financially responsible. In addition, charity rating organizations grade nonprofits on how much of their budget is used for program delivery and how much is used for overhead. Nonprofits that allocate a higher percentage of the budget to programs (75% or more) receive higher grades and thus look more responsible and appealing to donors and funders. Because of these factors, many nonprofit leaders find themselves trying to cut administrative and fundraising expenses. But is cutting your operational resources down to the bare minimum (or worse, less than the bare minimum) really good for your business?
We can survive if we just keep doing things the way we always have.
If you’ve gotten to this point by doing things the same way year after year, there may be little incentive to consider changing. Unless you are expecting different results. Is surviving your goal or should thriving be your goal?
Do you want to improve or expand the programs your nonprofit offers?
Do you want to improve your outcomes?
Do you want more donors and businesses to support your nonprofit?
None of the above will happen if you keep doing things the way you always have. To grow, we must change. We must look at all the ways we conduct business and find opportunities for improvement, whether with technology, employee training, strategic partnerships, or other opportunities.
Use Technology to add infrastructure and improve operational efficiencies.
Never before has Software as a Service (Saas) been more prevalent, more economical, or more important for business operations. Software technology is changing the way all businesses do business and it’s one of the fastest ways to streamline operations and improve operational efficiencies. Technology can actually add to a nonprofit’s infrastructure by freeing up the time employees spend manually completing tasks. Here are a few examples.
Little Green Light – Little Green Light is a customer relationship management system (CRM) for nonprofits. The platform is an all-in-one fundraising and donor database management system, and a whole lot more. The system almost serves as a fundraising coach as it uses data to make recommendations for next steps with donors. Additionally, the platform uses data to measure the performance of fundraising activities, so nonprofits spend more time on the right activities. The platform can be used to manage the relationships with all of your nonprofit’s important contacts including donors and sponsors, volunteers, and media contacts.
How it helps: A CRM keeps all of your data organized and in one place, and because it’s cloud-based you have easy access from the office as well as when you are on the road. Platforms that allow multiple users and offer extensive reporting capabilities enable the nonprofit’s team of staff, board members and volunteers to stay on the same page with marketing efforts and next steps with donors and sponsors. Reporting can also be used to prove marketing ROI and accountability to donors, funders, and grantors. Because a CRM can be used to evaluate fundraising activities, more revenue can be raised because no time or money is wasted on poor performing fundraising. Finally, a CRM system is necessary for nonprofit sustainability. If your key fundraising staff member leaves the nonprofit, you need to be able to seamlessly continue the fundraising efforts.
Pricing: Little Green Light starts at just $39/month with unlimited users. Click here to save $75 with the Nonprofit Marketing Academy affiliate link.
– Canva is a free graphic design tool you can use to create virtually any piece of nonprofit marketing content. The free subscription is sufficient for nonprofit uses. The platform also offers a nonprofit rate for access to advanced features like file management, advanced file editing, and team collaboration. Use Canva to create mission-focused nonprofit marketing content that engages donors and supporters on a deeper level and helps improve fundraising results.
How it Helps: Use Canva to create branded marketing templates that can be used by volunteers, board members and others. Improve marketing efforts by using visuals designs that capture attention and fuel content sharing. The platform is cloud-based.
Use Asana to manage projects and your team of staff, board members and volunteers.
– Asana is a project management system that offers sufficient features with the free version. Use Asana to build a collaborative fundraising team of staff, volunteers and board members and keep everyone aligned and meeting deadlines. The platform allows for assigning tasks, reporting on progress, collaborating on content, and much more.
How it Helps: Asana is also a cloud-based system and even allows users to assign tasks via an email to the system. It is extremely beneficial for project management – whether marketing or for another department or the nonprofit as a whole – team management, and time management.
Use Employee Development to improve operations, revenue-generation, and sustainability.
How relevant are your team’s skills today?
One of the fastest ways to determine if your staff has the skills necessary to do their job most effectively is to search for current job descriptions for each of your employees using a simple job search on Google. Compare each of your team member’s skills with that of a recent job description from a larger nonprofit. Do you see alignment? If not, then your team is in dire need of professional development. And, the good news is it doesn’t have to be expensive.
A modern job description becomes your training to-do list for an employee. Search for free or low-cost online training options to get your employee the skills they need. Create a development plan with each employee and monitor their progress.
When employees complete a skill’s training have them report to other departments about how the skill will affect or aid other departments and the nonprofit as a whole. Doing this builds a more collaborative team.
Evaluate the strength of your nonprofit’s leadership. Where do you need help? Is there an opportunity to turn to board members and other business leaders for mentoring? (A mentoring program is an ideal in-kind sponsorship program for the right business partner.)
Next, identify your nonprofit’s greatest needs. Who are the people who can help meet those needs? Consider staff, board members and volunteers. Don’t fall into the trap of assigning all your nonprofit needs to the shoulders of the fundraising staff. Create a team responsible for helping meet the need and identify training and technology that will help them do so.
Every department within a nonprofit should search for free technology resources to streamline and organize operations, and then use the extra time to focus on what will immediately impact the Nonprofit’ performance. Research ways to diversify nonprofit revenue. Find free training to learn new ways to increase nonprofit revenue. Take the training as a team or individually.
Now that you’ve optimized your overhead budget use data to increase the budget.
How have your operations improved?
Once you implement new technology and training, measure and evaluate how your operations have improved. Were you able to dedicate more time to new fundraising efforts? Have you seen an increase in donations? Are you gaining a bigger return on marketing efforts? How did you use the extra funds to improve your services?
Report these results you see by creating mission-focused content for your constituents. Use this information in your grant applications, sponsorship packages, and fundraising campaigns as a demonstration of your nonprofit’s commitment to financial sustainability.
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Your nonprofit marketing plan is an important first step to creating the face and voice of your nonprofit. All of your collateral, from your website to your brochures, to event flyers, to social media, to emails and everything in between, creates a first impression for your important audiences. Understanding the importance of this crucial first step and knowing where to start can be challenging. However, if the marketing strategy is set up correctly in the beginning, it will be one of your most valuable tools for growth in the future.
It’s equally as important to understand that marketing alone won’t grow a nonprofit. Marketing defines the mission of the nonprofit, shares who is doing the work and how, and makes various promises to your audiences. The nonprofit team has to make good on those promises for the nonprofit to succeed. Otherwise, marketing quickly turns into false advertising.
So, how do we help the team keep our promises?
The answer is to use Integrated Nonprofit Marketing, a holistic approach to nonprofit marketing. Integrated Nonprofit Marketing ensures consistency in messaging and message delivery throughout the business, and involves team development as part of the marketing process. Below, is a ten-step process to effective Integrated Nonprofit Marketing.
10 Steps of Integrated Nonprofit Marketing
1. Define the nonprofit’s business goals. Marketing efforts must tie directly to one or more business goals. The nonprofit’s business goals are the foundation of the marketing plan.
Example nonprofit business goals:
Increase annual revenue by a specific dollar amount by 12/31/19.
Secure two to three business partners to sponsor a program expansion by 09/01/19.
Identify three possible new revenue streams and choose one to implement by 12/31/19.
2. Define Marketing Plan goals. For each business goal, identify two to three measurable marketing goals that will support the business goal.
Increase revenue by a specific dollar amount by 12/31/19.
Marketing Plan goals that support the above business goal:
Increase donors by 25% by 12/31/19.
Create two new donation opportunities that raise a minimum of $10,000 for new donors by 08/31/19. (special event, networking event, webinar, etc.)
Develop one new sponsorship opportunity by 6/31/19 to raise a minimum of $12,000 for the year. (webinar series, special event, email marketing)
Both the overall business goals and the supporting marketing goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive.
3. Conduct research to create your nonprofit baseline. It’s time for a nonprofit health assessment. If you want to get better, you have to know where you need to improve. To move forward, we need a clear picture of how we are performing today.
In this step, gather data about how the organization is performing internally. Look for areas where departments are aligned and where they are working in silos.
How is this impacting your marketing?
Then, look at the external environment of your sector (competitor analysis, audience research, evaluating regulations or laws that affect our nonprofit operations). If you are an established nonprofit, include auditing all current marketing and communications assets. It’s important to conduct an organization-wide audit looking closely at every way the nonprofit communicates internally and externally.
4. Identify key audience(s). When applying Integrated Nonprofit Marketing, audiences are divided into three different segments (Organic, Business Partners, and Revenue Generation). Generic marketing messaging will never work because each segment is different, and the audiences in each segment have a different relationship with the nonprofit.
5. Develop the messaging for each audience. By segmenting our audiences, we can identify our business goal for the audience, identify our marketing goals, and then look closely at what type of messaging will be most impactful for each audience. Our messages should be tailored to the audience’s informational needs.
6. Develop the content strategy. Now you’re ready to develop the content strategy! A content strategy is essentially a buyer’s journey, and we need to develop a journey for each audience. When a nonprofit asks someone to invest or make a donation, attend an event, or just to get involved, the person being asked will go through a decision-making process. In marketing, this is called a buyer’s journey.
Example Nonprofit Buyer Journey
There are specific steps on the nonprofit buyer’s journey, such as awareness, engagement, conversion, and advocacy, and each of the steps needs content to support it. The content should address any concerns the audience may have when they are on that particular step. We also need to determine the best marketing channel for delivering the content and precisely when to deliver it.
7. Identify marketing resource needs. Look at the information that was revealed in step three. It’s now time to find the resources needed to carry out the marketing. Consider the following questions to guide the process.
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Is the nonprofit capable of carrying out a content strategy?
What technology platforms are other nonprofits using? Is there free technology available?
Do you need to train your staff on content development?
Would it be more cost-effective to outsource any of the content development?
Do you need a funder or sponsor to help with these operational needs?
8. Train staff, board members, and volunteers. We want our team members to advocate for the nonprofit at every opportunity, but do they know about and understand the Marketing Plan? The Marketing Plan and all its content are resources everyone on the team can use to support the nonprofit’s marketing goals. Schedule training sessions to get everyone on board. Educate them about the plan and how they can contribute.
9. Measure the Plan’s success. Marketers can manage and measure a plan so that the nonprofit only spends money on marketing that is working. Plus, what’s even more valuable with having accurate reports about marketing outcomes is that this data is especially attractive to funders, foundations, donors, and other investors.
10. Modify the plan. Business goals change. The external environment will also change, and the nonprofit will have internal changes. Additionally, some marketing tactics won’t produce the desired outcome, while others will exceed outcomes. For these reasons, we need to evaluate the plan regularly and modify it based on the outcome measurements and other business changes.
How to get started on the right path with nonprofit marketing
Is your nonprofit ready for lift off? If you’re like many nonprofit leaders, time and cost are two big factors with holding you back from creating a professional marketing program.
Here’s some good news. The Nonprofit Marketing Academy has developed an online, self-paced course that walks nonprofits through the entire set up process. We connect you with all the tools and technology you need. We help you identify your important audiences, write your messages and create your marketing strategy. Time is no longer a factor because you can work on your plan a little each day. The cost is not a factor because the entire program is $97 (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) and includes access to all training and materials for one full year. Plus, you have a membership to a private peer network for help anytime you need it.
The mission-focused content model expands and deepens storytelling.
Nonprofits rely heavily on storytelling for business success.
We share our stories with board members so they, in turn, can share our important work with their networks.
Our stories about our programs and initiatives help prove the outcomes of our efforts to the media, donors, and funders.
Stories about our employees help job candidates know what it is like to be a part of the team.
At every opportunity, we are sharing stories about our work and the nonprofit’s mission.
It’s no wonder that with all the storytelling we should be doing, we can sometimes feel the content well has run dry. We may even find ourselves in a creative slump and looking for something new to share.
If a nonprofit is not yet fully established, storytelling can be especially daunting.
New nonprofit leaders face tough challenges that prompt concerns like: How do I share our story? What marketing channels do I use? How can I make our storytelling as interesting as the work we are doing?
How formal does our marketing need to be? Are people reading our stories? How can I get people to share our stories?
Believe it or not, there IS a ‘secret sauce’ or ‘special formula’ that nonprofits can follow to gain the highest return on content marketing and specifically storytelling.
In simple terms, mission-focused content exploits every opportunity within a nonprofit to create a story. The model goes beyond the traditional stories that are told, such as stories about volunteers, donors, and clients. It takes a deeper look into the organization and involves looking at how each employee individually contributes to the work of the nonprofit, how employees contribute to the community in ways outside of the nonprofit, how vendors contribute to the nonprofit’s mission, how and why the nonprofit programs are developed, managed and evaluated, how money is raised, managed and spent, and much, much more.
When nonprofits implement a mission-focused model to storytelling, the content achieves three core relationship-building outcomes.
Transparency – With mission-focused content, the nonprofit’s audiences learn more about the operations and the people within a nonprofit because the stories about funding, people, and programs create transparency.
Trust – The deeper storytelling leads to stronger trust between the nonprofit and its many investors.
Improved Fundraising – Broad storytelling not only reveals the outcomes of the nonprofit’s programs but also information about the processes used and the people and partnerships involved. This level of storytelling gives supporters a deeper understanding of the nonprofit’s efforts to carry out its mission and more of a reason to donate.
What kind of storytelling content should nonprofits create?
Storytelling inspires and sticks with an audience like no other form of content. Tie storytelling to every layer of the nonprofit’s mission, and you have an overflowing content well. When nonprofits use the deep journey of mission-focused content, the audience is engaged for a longer period of time and at a deeper level. Below is one example of mission-focused storytelling.
Project: Nonprofit Plans to Launch a New Reading Program
A video featuring the executive director tells why the program is so important; it introduces the team members who will be developing the program.
Weekly blog and social media updates from team members document the work in progress and take the audience behind the scenes.
Social media content featuring the students who will benefit from the program adds faces and personalities for the audience to connect with.
A project landing page features content in a variety of forms such as a project timeline or countdown mechanism.
Monthly updates on the fundraising progress and how the money is allocated are used to build trust with the audience and results in a higher ROI on content calls-to-action.
A monthly podcast, hosted by the nonprofit leadership, interviews sponsors and other business partners to create awareness about the community’s involvement in the project.
Free tools for mission-focused content storytelling.
Canva – Canva is a free graphic design software with thousands of templates and design ideas that help turn stories into real life visual content.
Pixabay – Pixabay is a repository of royalty-free images and videos. When privacy is a concern for a nonprofit, use Pixabay images and videos to tell the story.
Bensound – Music can evoke deep emotions. Add music to your stories with royalty-free music from sites like Bensound Music.
YouTube Sound Effects – What makes a story more real than sound effects? Download free sound effects for your next project.
Screencast-o-matic – Record video content with something as simple as a smartphone, and bring it all together into one powerful video with special effects. Screencast-o-matic offers a free version with a video watermark and also a very low-cost paid subscription level ($1.50/month – yep, one dollar and fifty cents).
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Our next step is to schedule your 30-minute appointment. During this appointment, you and I will meet to discuss your website function and feature needs, and plan the design timeline. Use our convenient online form to schedule your appointment. Scroll below for more details about our appointment.
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Successful nonprofit marketing is all about storytelling. The most common stories use compelling content to capture the outcomes of programs and services. But sometimes there are gems hidden deep within your nonprofit operations. Below are three seldom told stories, that if told, would go a long way toward securing more donors and keeping the ones you already have.
Employee Stories: Put A Face(s) To Your Nonprofit
Ask most nonprofit employees about their job, and they will tell you it involves long hours and a lot of work; but it’s extremely rewarding.
Employee stories are often left out of the nonprofit marketing plan when they actually should make up a good portion of the content. If we want donors to see the value in donating to the general fund or to a specific project or program, we need to show them how the money is spent and connect them to the people doing the work.
Put a face to your nonprofit. Actually, put several faces to your nonprofit. We should be sharing about each employee and their unique role, as well as how the employee contributes to the efforts of the team and the nonprofit as a whole.
How nonprofits benefit from sharing employee stories:
Employee stories provide meaningful, community-focused content for social media channels. Employees are respected, well-liked members of the community, and your nonprofit’s association with them is a blessing. Share about it!
Sharing stories about employees and their role in the nonprofit is key to humanizing the nonprofit.
Mission-focused employee stories go way beyond sharing the employee’s name and title. These stories leave readers feeling like they know more about the person and how important their work is for helping the nonprofit reach its outcomes.
On the business side, employee stories can lift morale and improve cohesiveness and collaboration among the team.
Publishing employee stories introduces the nonprofit to an audience it might not otherwise be able to reach.
Most importantly, employee stories compel donors to think, “Wow, this person is doing all this. I want to help.”
Immediate Fundraising Updates: Build Trust And Share The ROI For Donors
Fundraising is hard work. Every fundraiser is generally an all-hands-on-deck event with everyone working long, hard hours up to and during the event. However, for your event attendees and donors, fundraisers are a transaction. Donors are contributing their hard-earned dollars and placing their trust in your organization. They need something in return from you: an update.
Don’t wait for the annual report or monthly newsletter to let donors know how important their contribution is and the specific impact it makes on your work. Send a follow-up to donors right away to let them know what you are going to do with the funds. It’s important to keep your donors in the loop through regular updates. Also, include the marketing content that garners the most shares, like creative graphics and short powerful videos.
How nonprofits benefit from post-event updates:
Providing updates will help keep your donors. There are thousands of nonprofits vying for donations. If you aren’t communicating with your donors on a consistent basis, you can bet other nonprofits are.
Regular updates to donors help build stronger relationships with them and keep your nonprofit top of mind.
Keeping donors informed fosters transparency and trust.
Board Member Stories: Welcome, Personal/Professional Stories, and Community Involvement
Create eye-catching graphics to tell your board member stories!
If your nonprofit needs and wants board members to be more involved in the nonprofit, especially with fundraising, we have a few ideas to help. It’s easy to forget that board members are volunteers and they have other full-time jobs and families and a personal life. We have huge expectations for board members, but it’s not realistic to expect them to meet these obligations on their own.
Like any volunteer, board members appreciate gratitude, and recognition and sharing their stories is a good way to do that. Board member stories also make excellent mission-focused content.
Here is kind of content to create about your board members:
welcome each new board member
share each board member’s history and a reason for volunteering
highlight their other contributions in the community
These are all good, meaningful stories!
Tips for making it easier for board members to perform well:
If you want high performance from your board members, make it easier for them to help your nonprofit.
Create the dynamic mission-focused content for them.
Use board members as sources in the content. Interview them for articles, podcasts, and webinars.
Give board members easy access to the content online with suggestions for distributing it. For example, store content in Dropbox and share the folders with board members.
Just as with your donors and volunteers, keep board members updated. Don’t wait until the board meeting to let them know how much they have helped. Send regular updates to keep them engaged with and connected to your work.
The above are just three examples of the many, many stories hidden deeply within nonprofit operations. Learn how to uncover more content heroes with our new 27-part video series. We use only free tools and provide step-by-step instructions for creating engaging, high-value content.
Click here to learn about the training and watch three videos for free.
With all the challenges of nonprofit marketing, it’s a good idea to have a strong arsenal of tools to help accomplish your goals. The Nonprofit Marketing Academy has compiled an extensive collection of helpful free and low-cost nonprofit marketing tools that will streamline your marketing efforts and improve your operations without costing you a fortune.
Below is a breakdown of the categories of tools and how to use them. Visit the resource center here.
Nonprofit Freelancer Help
Most nonprofit marketers have a wide-ranging number of skills; but at some point, you will encounter a task that is completely outside of your skill set. You could burn through a whole day learning some complicated platform, or you could get help from someone already knowledgeable in that area. The Academy found some reliable freelancer websites where you can simply hire a contractor or freelancer to help with tasks such as setting up your business including logo design, marketing collateral, accounting set-up, and more. And because of their low overhead costs, these contractors and freelancers often charge less than local specialists in your area.
Funding Resources for Donations to Loans for Capital Projects
What is the #1 challenge for most nonprofits? Funding, of course! The Academy has a list of five trusted websites to help you grow your donations with no-cost fundraising apps, secure loans from lenders, and how to find grants to support your important programs. Funding is never an easy matter, but these tools will energize your fundraising efforts.
Marketing & Graphic Design Tools
Develop your nonprofit brand and carry your nonprofit’s story across a multitude of collateral with graphic design platforms. Create compelling designs to tell your story on everything from business cards to brochures, to social media posts, to flyers and posters, to website advertisements and everything in between.
Email Marketing & Newsletter Solutions
Emails and newsletters are an extremely important aspect of nonprofit marketing. It’s crucial to keep people interested in your nonprofit’s cause and to continue their awareness of how necessary their participation and donation dollars are. But do you have the time to stay by your computer sending out emails and newsletters all day? The Resource Center has tools to help you automate your efforts and communicate with your database of supporters, volunteers, and donors. Many of these tools are available at a free level or with significant discounts for nonprofits!
Online Meetings, Webinars & Podcasts
Because of the inconceivable advancement of computers and technology in today’s world, we humans no longer have to be in the same room or proximity to communicate. Now we have online meetings, webinars, and podcasts that can bring together an unlimited number of people, if necessary. The Resource Center has four of the best tools available that can be used for staff or volunteer meetings, employee training, or as a marketing tactic to communicate with different audiences. Again, these tools are either free or low-cost.
Screen Capture & Video Software
Everyone in today’s marketing world knows that ‘Video Is King’! Nothing else captures attention better than video, which is why there are numerous platforms for creating videos, training sessions and more. Our Resource Center has four of the very best video creation and recording tools that are easy to use and either free or discounted for nonprofits. You can’t go wrong!
At some point in your nonprofit marketing career, you will likely have to give a presentation. In addition to PowerPoint, in this section, you will find a few free and low-cost technology platforms for creating dynamic presentations. We have handpicked the best easy-to-use tools for you that are free, discounted for nonprofits, or low-cost.
Copywriting & Editing Tools
Writing is such a big part of marketing, and we have found four extremely helpful tools to improve your writing and messaging for key audiences. These tools will edit your grammar, help write effective titles and headlines, analyze your headlines, and more. With these tools, your writing will have a clean, polished, and professional look that will impress any audience.
The Nonprofit Marketing Academy Resource Center also has many more tools for your nonprofit marketing that will assist you in important areas such as Donor Database Management, Collaboration and Filesharing, Event Registration Management, Image Editing, Royalty-Free Images, and Marketing Infographics. Head over to the resource center now and be sure to sign up for our Free Friday group where you receive a new free marketing tool every Friday.
What’s the biggest challenge you are facing with your nonprofit? There’s a training for that!
The Nonprofit Marketing Academy hosts webinars led by expert presenters to address not just marketing challenges but many top challenges nonprofits face. We understand that the best marketing in the world won’t be effective if there are pressing issues deteriorating the overall nonprofit operations.
Most commonly, leaders cite a lack of support and resources as key challenges. It’s affecting communities all over the world and nonprofits of all sizes. Nonprofits relying on federal or state funds are fighting budget cuts and are seeking alternative ways to generate revenue. Small and mid-size nonprofits are downsizing staff and trying to do more with a smaller infrastructure.
The academy partners with nonprofit professionals to create micro-learning webinars to address these specific areas of concern. The webinars provide access to free nonprofit resources and detailed, ready to implement strategies. Below is a series of five webinars that will help take your nonprofit from surviving to thriving.
HOW TO BUILD A HIGH-REVENUE SPONSOR PROGRAM FOR YOUR NONPROFIT
In this one-hour training, you will roll-up-our-sleeves and dive deep into our proven nonprofit sponsor-building strategy. Sign up to learn how to create a sponsor program that adds value by giving sponsors what they need for their sponsor dollars. Strategic sponsorship programs produce a bigger ROI for your nonprofit and your important sponsors.
STEP-BY-STEP STRATEGY FOR BUILDING A STRONG FUNDRAISING BOARD
It’s no secret the better-aligned your board members and staff are with fundraising, the more success your nonprofit will see. The question is, how do you get everyone on the same page for fundraising growth? In this one-hour training, we share the Nonprofit Marketing Academy’s secrets for exponential fundraising growth and team collaboration. We also reveal board-friendly fundraising events that bring in larger audiences and higher revenue.
HOW TO USE NONPROFIT CONTENT MARKETING TO DRASTICALLY INCREASE DONORS
Want to get the word out about your nonprofit, and get more donors contributing to your cause? Implementing a multichannel nonprofit content marketing strategy will help produce the results you need. We present a unique content marketing/business partner strategy for outstanding donor recruitment & retention.
HOW TO USE LINKEDIN TO CULTIVATE THE IDEAL AUDIENCE FOR YOUR FUNDRAISING EVENTS (VOLUNTEERS AND THE BOARD)
Are you on LinkedIn but can’t make it work for nonprofit fundraising and networking? Take a second look. It’s time to use the most powerful networking tool available to get the right people to attend your events. In this leadership webinar, we will show you step-by-step how to identify your ideal audience and connect with them on LinkedIn. Then, we will show you an event sales funnel to drive ticket purchases/RSVPs/attendance. Use this same strategy to recruit volunteers and board members.
FREE TOOLS TO CREATE HIGH PERFORMING NONPROFIT CONTENT IN MINUTES
In a recent Academy survey of nonprofit leaders, 36% of respondents said they struggled with content strategy and creation. An additional 50% of respondents struggle with having the time and capacity to create valuable content. This leadership webinar aims to solve these challenges. We will show you how to expose the content marketing strategies of successful nonprofits. Then we will demonstrate what free technology is available to help you create high performing content.