Marketing helps you to achieve your core mission in powerful, effective, and efficient ways. Marketing enables you to raise awareness of your organisation; increase support for your cause; raise political awareness; engage volunteers; stimulate giving, and connect with your beneficiaries.
Marketing is important for not-for-profit organisations to embrace, no matter how small, under resourced, and overworked we may be. In the not-for-profit sector we need to move from the mind-set of ‘I cannot afford to do marketing’, to ‘I cannot afford to NOT do marketing’.
Here are my 8 must-haves for a not-for-profit organisation to help you achieve marketing success.
1. A Marketing Plan
First and foremost – develop a marketing plan! Your marketing plan is simply a roadmap to follow to achieve your goals and improve the success of your organisation. Marketing is about much more than developing a flier, a website, or an ad in the paper. The real work of a marketer is in the planning before any promotional material is produced. Once you have completed your marketing plan, then you are ready to implement it and measure results.
2. Great website
A great website is a must. These days people expect to be able to find information about your organisation online. Websites are the window to your organisation, and help people build an impression about you. In many cases viewing your website is the very first impression people have of your organisation. What kind of first impression are you giving people? Be clear around what your communication objectives are, and ensure your website meets these objectives. Know who your audience is, and write content tailored for that audience. Graphics are more powerful than words, so it is worthwhile taking the time to take good photographs to display on your website. Does your website help build your brand in a postive way? Make sure information is accessible, current, and has an attractive lay out. Your website should clearly tell people: who you are; what you do; and why the work you do is important. Your website sits at the heart of your online strategy, and you should link to it from other online platforms you are using (e.g. Facebook). Ensure you are able to edit information on your website so that you can keep it up to date and fresh looking.
3. Consistency in branding
A strong brand adds value and gives your organisation a competitive advantage. When you interact with people, both online and offline, they’ll build up an image of who you are over time. These impressions are what determine your brand – a brand is an emotional connection people have to your organisation. A strong brand is one where people perceive you in the way you want to be perceived. Part of building a strong brand involves being consistent in living your brand values. Develop a brand identity for your organisation – including what fonts you use, logo colours, any imagery and words that represent your brand. Once you have your brand identity guidelines determined, be consistent in sticking to these guidelines. By being consistent, when people come into contact with any aspect of your organisation – such as your brochure, an ad in the paper, or talking to your staff on the phone, the impression these people have is likely to be the one you want them to have.
4. A great case for support statement
A ‘case for support’ is a marketing document that should be developed by any organisation that seeks support and funding. A case for support captures: who you are, what you do, what your goals are, and why people should join with you to achieve these goals. It should be both informative and inspirational and is the touchstone for all your marketing and communications that support your organisations fundraising.
5. Testimonials/ Case studies
Testimonials and case studies are great to have on hand to use in your marketing communications. They provide proof from unbiased people that your organisation is making a positive difference. All staff should collect testimonials and case studies from various stakeholders – such as beneficiaries, funders, donors (any people that your audience can relate to). Share appropriate testimonials with relevant target audiences – e.g. Add beneficiaries’ testimonials to sponsor proposals. Use funder’s testimonials in reports to the board. Ensure you ask people’s permission to use their testimonials in communications, and ensure that all testimonials are from a credible source. Case studies are different to testimonials as they provide a background story, but they are also proof that what you are offering is valuable. Case studies are great to display on your website. You can use your case studies to create blog posts and video content. You can link to case studies from social media platforms, and also incorporate them into your newsletters
6. Database of stakeholders
Every not-for-profit organisation should maintain a database of stakeholders and keep it up to date. A good database will help you to target your communications and manage relationships. Sort your database into common target audience groups (e.g. beneficiaries, funders, media, sponsors, donors). Then when you want to target a communication to a particular group you are able to do this using your database.
7. Facebook page
All not-for-profit organisations should consider having a Facebook page. Facebook is a low cost way to reach a wide network of individuals, and is the most popular social network on the Internet. Facebook is a great way to build and maintain relationships. On Facebook, communication flows two ways, so you can have conversations with people, rather than talk at them. Facebook is a place that connects people to things they care about – so give people the ability to connect with your cause. Establish yourself on Facebook as an expert – become the go to organisation for information about your area of expertise. Visuals are important and are driving social media communications – on Facebook videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined, photos are liked twice as much as text updates. Be responsive to people – answering their queries promptly, and keep content fresh and relevant. Make your supporters the stars of your Facebook page – publicily acknowledging volunteers and the work they do. Also use Facebook to show people results – e.g. of fundraising campaigns, or of how your service has transformed lives of beneficiaries.
An email newsletter is a cost effective way to connect with your audience. An email newsletter enables you to send information, with links to where your audience can potentially find out more information on topics they are interested in. When these links go to your website, e-newsletters can increase website traffic. Some of the things you could communicate in your e-newsletters are: donation information, upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, organisation news, the impact your organisation is having in the community, case studies.