4 Challenges of Niche Nonprofit Marketing (and How to Overcome Them)
Nonprofits engage in marketing to help win support for their causes, attracting potential donors and members, which can be challenging enough. But nonprofits in unique niches face additional challenges, especially if their causes are relatively unknown.
Niche nonprofits can overcome some of the marketing challenges they likely face by honing in on expected hurdles, evaluating how to strategize with those obstacles in mind.
The Unavoidable Nature of Social Media
A unifying factor in every niche is a social media presence. No matter a nonprofit's specialization, it's unlikely they aren't on social media in some capacity.
Social media presents a range of excellent marketing opportunities, including using Facebook Live to hold a Q&A to show expertise or using LinkedIn to connect with those in a relevant niche. Despite these perks, social media also presents a challenge for nonprofits that do not go “all-in” on their social media presence.
Someone who is interested in a nonprofit is likely to check the organization out on Facebook or Twitter, especially if it’s a niche nonprofit without much competition in the sphere. If the visitor sees the last social media update was several years ago, they may assume the organization is defunct, regardless of what their website says. As a result, nonprofits need to stay active on social media once they join, even if they limit the content to re-posting relevant articles in their niche.
Overcome the proliferation of social media by maintaining activity on various platforms, while mapping out a viable social media strategy for exposure, such as deciding on a posting frequency or assigning a staff member to oversee social media content. Ideally, a niche nonprofit will stand out by providing relevant content that’s unique to their focus and mission.
Vanishing Print Media
In the past, niche nonprofits would target relevant forms of print media to advertise and promote their organization. As print media wanes and digital media ascends, niche nonprofits find themselves in a quandary as to how to devote their marketing budget and resources.
Nonprofits that budget their marketing approach should analyze potential print options, specifically how closely each print medium’s demographic aligns with their own. Unless there’s an extremely close correlation in demographic, a niche nonprofit in 2017 should be largely emphasizing digital media. Moving to the digital sphere in a full capacity helps cater to the nation’s largest workforce segment: Millennials.
Millennials are very fond of online giving, who as a workforce are beginning to generate income that leaves room for charitable giving. Giving online is their vastly preferred option, having grown up with smartphones and laptops to the point of having no wariness over online transactions. Nonprofits need to embrace this Millennial niche and focus on digital media with few exceptions.
A Skeptical Audience
While certain nonprofits will have no difficulty appealing to sympathy, certain niches are more difficult to generate an emotional response, which is what often leads to donors.
Niche nonprofits should value anecdotes and personal stories to get their message across, connecting with people by sharing stories about people much like them who experience an impact on the niche. An anecdotal, emotional connection is easier than ever via social media, where nonprofits can post heartfelt videos of real-life people sharing what the nonprofit and their mission mean to them. For example, a nonprofit focusing on the greed of large banking institutions can post a video from customers of federal credit unions to emphasize the comparison.
Nonprofits that use video on social media experience ample growth due to video’s ability to generate an emotional response.
A niche nonprofit may feel a temptation to expand their focus, especially if they see a decline in interest. However, over-expansion can make a nonprofit lose focus, diluting their message and making it difficult to comprehend. As a result, it's more prudent for niche nonprofits to modify their outreach and general presence, instead of alternating the niche-based focus they have been nurturing for years.
Nonprofits in specific niches face some challenges today that include digitalization and the rise of a new working demographic, though nonprofits can overcome these challenges in a way that puts their organizations in an even better position than before.