5 Rules for Adjusting Your Nonprofit Marketing
It’s not business as usual, which means that your nonprofit marketing efforts have to adjust and change. Dynamism and adaptability are necessary for every organization in the current environment, especially for nonprofits. We understand that the need in our communities is only going to increase in the weeks and months ahead, which means nonprofits have to nurture relationships — and strengthen them.
I’ll share with you that even at our social enterprise, we’ve been working hard to support our nonprofit fundraising partners. We understand that as I write this article, some nonprofits are deep into the process of trying to figure out how to calibrate their next steps. So one of the most significant efforts we've done is simply to reach out to them and say: We know you need support. We've done it, for example, in the emails we've sent to them, which have included essential resources for nonprofits during this difficult time. As many of us have seen, we're all #togetheralone.
Still, aside from reaching out and touching base with your supporters, there are several other things you should do to adjust your marketing and content marketing efforts to ensure the highest level of efficiency.
- Reconsider all campaigns or fundraisers. During this extraordinary time, your nonprofit must be responsive and attune to the mood of your community. For marketers and fundraisers, that means if there were unique campaigns you were going to launch, you need to review them and make sure that they make sense in the current environment. Accordingly, if you had a fundraiser — perhaps a capital campaign — you need to consider if any aspects of it should get paused for the time being. Remember, this is the time to seek to help not only the people you serve, but also your donors and supporters. Meaning, they want to know that you understand where their heads are at during this particular time and that you are sensitive to their needs. Ultimately, a relationship is a two-way street.
- Think long term, not short term. While we all wish the current pandemic and economic challenges would not affect our communities and go away soon, the reality is that the effects will continue for some time. In all, marketers are looking at having to make long-term adjustments. We know that after the 2008 recession, thousands of nonprofits had to close or consolidate because they could not make it economically. And when businesses are struggling to survive, including the travel industry, which is estimated to lose $820 billion, many people (including your donors) aren’t making money. As a result, you have to take into account how your messaging must change and the timing of any asks you make of them.
- Now is not the time to disappear. The last thing you want to do as a marketer is to withdraw from the scene. In fact, your community needs to know now, more than ever, what your nonprofit is doing to help people affected. Therefore, it's vital to increase your social shares and outreach into the community. As a general rule, you should acknowledge the current situation when appropriate, but not dwell on it or be negative. The reality is that your messaging and content marketing has to be consistent and inspire hope. Everyone is unsure right now, so differentiating yourself by giving people confidence is an activity that is bound to keep supporters and others following you.
- Take a critical look at your marketing dollars. Again, you want to spend money to keep your nonprofit top of mind, and you don’t want to spend any funds that are now considered wasteful. However, you want to be smart about where you spend those funds. As an example, this is an excellent time to take a look at your database and understand the best-segmented targets. Perhaps most of your donors are women, or maybe they're in a particular age group or geographic area. This is the moment to spend your funds wisely and reach out to those who are likely to respond. At this time, and probably for the remainder of the year, you want to ensure your marketing spending is limited to the “safest” outlets and methods.
- Nonprofit marketing is all about the donor experience. While the work you do in your community is vital, a nonprofit's ability to accomplish it is reliant on the support it receives from its donors. Although this is the fifth tip, it's probably the most crucial. You need to ensure that you keep the donor experience at the top of all of your marketing efforts. For nonprofits, that means your supporters have to have confidence in the work you're doing. So it's an excellent time to share the facts and stats about the impact you're making in the community. The top message you want to give donors is that you're with them, and also with those you serve.
Finally, during the 2008 recession, some nonprofits aligned themselves with strategic partners. One of the best things you can do from a marketing and fundraising perspective is to join forces with others. If you have corporate contacts, figure out how they can help you amplify the work you’re doing in the community, and vice versa. And if there are other nonprofits with services that complement the work you do, think about developing programs and partnerships that could be mutually beneficial.
During times of uncertainty, as in the last recession, the Stanford Social Innovation Review published in 2010 an article concerning the nonprofits that were adapting well. Those groups were focused on having great (not just good people) onboard. They acted quickly, but thoughtfully, protected their core programs and drew funders further into their cause. Remember, this, too, shall pass. But in the meantime, it requires careful thought, strategy and action.
Kristy Fontelera is a creative professional in corporate and nonprofit social media advertising and brand strategy. As the chief marketing officer at Funds2Orgs and Elsey Enterprises, she works with a suite of global fundraising brands and manages national campaigns for her clients. She hosts a monthly webinar with Funds2Orgs, teaching nonprofits how to make an impact with their social media strategy. Kristy is a passionate individual that loves nothing more than to help others make an impact in their market and the world.
Kristy also contributes monthly to her NonProfit PRO blog, “Marketing IRL.”