Effective Marketing Communication Strategies for Nonprofits
This is an unprecedented time for the world, and there is no roadmap for how to handle it. Every sector has been affected by the pandemic in some way, including nonprofits. We have to be agile, dynamic and sensitive in our responses in order to stay relevant and come out of this crisis stronger.
The good news is that the great work nonprofits are doing to advance their missions gives people some hope and resonates well in times like these. What strategies can nonprofits implement to set them up for success both now and after the pandemic subsides?
Build Connection Through Storytelling
The pandemic has left people feeling isolated and worried. Stories can provide needed inspiration and positivity right now. Use this time to build emotional connections by sharing your organization’s value through storytelling.
If your nonprofit is providing some sort of COVID-19 emergency response, it is clear what stories to tell. But if you aren’t directly impacting the crisis, that doesn’t mean it’s time to step back. Continue building trust in your nonprofit’s brand through storytelling and engagement so that now, and when the crisis is over, you’ll be in people’s minds and hearts when they are considering what causes to support.
Some tips in this regard:
- Keep communications simple and intuitive. People are feeling stressed and can’t process complex ideas right now, so the more simply you can tell your story without losing impact, the better.
- Be clear about your objective. Understand what you’re trying to accomplish with a story whether that’s to educate, build rapport with supporters or highlight your solutions and commitment to your mission. If you want people to take action, make sure that action is easy to do.
- Utilize social media and email. Traffic on social media is up across all platforms since people are home and more engaged online. Share your stories through your online channels, such as social media and email, and encourage staff, board members, volunteers and your influencers to do the same.
- Tell the story of your volunteers and donors. Seeing or hearing people take action can be a powerful social influence for others to follow suit.
- Be creative and sensitive in your updates. Talk about how your organization is doing in general, share messages from the leadership and discuss how you’re caring for staff and/or beneficiaries during this time to deepen understanding of how you’re managing the crisis.
Expand Your Outreach to the Business Community
Now is also a good time for nonprofits to reach out to businesses for support and partnerships. Marketing Dive finds that there has been a 41% increase in cause-related marketing for businesses during this time. This provides a unique opening in which the business community is receptive to discussing potential partnerships with organizations that provide solutions.
Choose businesses that you believe are a good match for your mission, and highlight how a partnership with your nonprofit would be beneficial for their brand, business model and culture. You can highlight how their support could improve perceptions with their customers and employees, and how you’ll promote them in your marketing channels. Business support could be as simple as a corporate sponsorship, a matching-gift program or a deeper, long-term relationship that includes a formalized cause-marketing model.
When pursuing these efforts, be strategic and think about your brand, your beliefs and values, and how you want to be perceived. Consider how you frame your communications, including the stories you tell, so people will want to lean in and support you. Doing this will help position your organization for success now and in the long-term.
Leeann Alameda has more than 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, branding, communications and advertising in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, which provides marketing strategy and branding services for nonprofits, foundations and mission-driven businesses.