When I meet with a new client for the first time, I want to know everything. I want to know what they have done in the past, what has worked well and what was a bust. Knowing where they are coming from allows me to create a marketing plan that is specific to their needs and more importantly, easy for them to accomplish. When I ask what they are doing, I’m always surprised to learn when a nonprofit isn’t incorporating all of the six tools I am going to suggest to you today. All six are critical pieces to have in your marketing toolbox. From eye-catching printed program collateral to a responsive website and everything in between, I will break down the top six tools and how you can easily incorporate them into your marketing efforts. Bonus: Stick around until the end of the blog for a special goody that shares even more tools and tips to take your nonprofit marketing to the next level.
1. WebsiteOkay, we’re well into the 21st century. Everyone has a website, but as your most important marketing tool, you must have the right website. Nonprofits above any other industry need to make sure they have a robust website with a satisfactory user experience. Donors need to feel like their information is secure when making a gift online. Clients need to find information fast so they can get the services they need. Volunteers need to have a clear understanding of the mission and opportunities before they lose interest. I take a deep dive into what that looks like in a prior blog post, but here are some key things to consider:
- Your website is responsive on all devices
- Search engine friendly
- Secure with an SSL Certificate
- Has contact forms throughout the site so donors and volunteers can easily reach out to learn more
2. Annual AppealYour annual appeal doesn’t have to be a stuffy formal letter sent to your donors at the end of the year. The important thing is that you are designating time each year to solicit your audience for donations. Think outside the box on what your annual appeal can include. Here are some easy suggestions that can add a unique touch:
- Client testimonials WITH photos
- Specific requests – capital funding, a specific program or specific items your organization or clients need
- Have your appeal coincide with a social media campaign, or make the ask specifically on social. Here are some tips for that.
- Rethink the size. Instead of a folded 8.5×11, maybe it is a booklet, a trifold or some other unique size. Just make sure you don’t end up paying for extra postage.
- Never underestimate the power of a clean and eye-catching design. While your message is powerful, your audience’s eyes need to be captivated first. Check out an annual appeal I recently completed for Girls on the Run here.
3. Email MarketingUse tools like Mailchimp to check in with your donors, volunteers, and clients regularly. You could even make your annual appeal digitally if you don’t have the funds for a printed version. However you decide to use email marketing, remember, it is important to be consistent with your messaging and to not overwhelm your audience with constant communications. They will eventually open your email only to click that unsubscribe button. If you are just starting with email marketing and it sounds overwhelming, I suggest starting with a quarterly newsletter. Committing to four emails isn’t a heavy burden, but your audience will still take notice. If you need content ideas, may I suggest:
- Upcoming events and workshops
- Program enrollment information
- Reports and stats regarding recent events and happenings
- Client testimonials
- Volunteer and Board Member highlights
4. Social Media ChannelsCheck-in now and then on your social media presence and perform an audit. Consider the channels you’re using and those that you aren’t if you’re consistently posting content that is appropriate for your audience. Here are a few content ideas to get you off and running (check out more tips here):
- Highlight board and staff members
- Key dates for your organization
- Share relevant articles
- Volunteer opportunities
- Statistics about your organization
5. Printed Program CollateralI am by no means suggesting a standard tri-fold brochure. Think outside the box. My favorite personal example is a 4” x 4” tri-fold brochure. The unconventional size allowed the program to stand out in a sea of information at busy community events. Think about how to best present information about your services and who your target audience is. No matter what you decide to do, collateral should always follow your brand standards, be printed on quality paper, utilize white space, and not overload the reader with too much information. Key program collateral that I suggest (with examples) are:
- An annual report or impact report highlighting what you do for donors
- Program brochure or booklet
- Postcard size handout with your basic information.
6. Talking PointsTalking points are for internal use only. They are especially helpful if your organization has multiple departments or a lot of key stakeholders who need to know about various areas of your organization. Talking points don’t need to be exhaustive – I recommend a one-page reference sheet that can easily be updated as needed, including:
- Key program dates
- Eligibility requirements
- Mission, vision, and/or purpose
- Key policy guidelines
- Any other information that will help all your employees and key volunteers to communicate consistently to make the biggest impact