Nonprofit Marketing: 5 Money-Wasters You Might Not Need
Those of us in the nonprofit industry know that there are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. But did you know that 20.85% of nonprofits have a budget of less than $50,000, and 20.69% have budgets of less than $100,000? That’s a significant number of organizations with little money, which is why every dollar counts.
In this column, I usually write about marketing ideas that will help you improve your promotion efforts. However, it's also essential to understand what to avoid — especially with a limited budget. Save precious dollars on what matters and get a bigger bang for your buck by avoiding these next five money-wasters.
Believing the Brand Drives Donations
One of the things you're going to hear all over the place is that you have to "build a brand" so you can get supporters. And while it's true that you have to have consistency in marketing, creating a brand takes money. Small nonprofits operating with one or two people simply don't have the resources to build a brand in the truest sense of the idea.
Therefore, the best thing small nonprofits can do is not to sweat the brand-building and, instead, focus on your mission, programs, creating a cohesive story, mobile and responsive website, and getting donations.
A brand experience does not drive donations, nor does it come from you telling everyone how awesome your nonprofit is for the community. Stick to discussing the impact you make, the story behind it, and showing people that your nonprofit matters to them. The brand will follow.
Search Engine Optimization
Many people claim to know how to do SEO. But unfortunately, the landscape of SEO is always changing, and some people take advantage of the mystery of technology to get nonprofits to pay them. While SEO is a significant investment, it takes money to do it right. And when you do it, you have to ensure that you've hired the right experts for the job.
One of the things you can do to ensure that you take advantage of SEO is to learn the basics for yourself. The fundamentals will help you go a long way toward driving traffic to your site. My entire team is continuously researching how the algorithm changes affect SEO and continue to be students in the ever-changing world of technology. For a list of SEO classes, click here.
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
One of the classic mistakes many nonprofit founders make is thinking that because they create an organization, people will want to donate to the good cause. Wrong. Often, nonprofit people focus on the programs — to the exclusion of the revenue stream. Or they decide to invest precious marketing dollars into SEO or brand development instead of investing in fundraising.
Once you’ve developed your programs, you have to raise money. In fact, a majority of your job as a nonprofit founder should be raising funds. Spend time trying to figure out creative fundraisers to incorporate with your current programs to ensure that you have the revenue stream to scale your nonprofit. Check out these unique fundraising ideas..
Investing in Digital Ads
Social media and digital promotions with Google Ads or Facebook Ads can look deceptively cheap and straightforward. You can spend a few dollars here or there, and see what happens. That's a mistake. Marketers often tell nonprofit leaders about how easy it is for them to attract supporters and fundraising dollars by paying a bit of money in pay per click.
However, like SEO, there is a science to digital advertising, and a few bucks here and there add up. The first thing I always tell my clients is to start with A/B testing around brand awareness and traffic ads. It's important to understand that everything from the title to the images you use matters, as do the impact and results.
What I learned from a $200 ad spend is that "Learn More" outperformed "Donate Now," and videos outperformed still images. Testing these creatives will help you learn more about how to measure the results of every $1 you spend. Learn about this form of advertising.
Creating a Website That Doesn’t Convert
Finally, one of the biggest money wasters is developing a website that doesn't convert visitors into donors and supporters. Think about it: What good is it to learn SEO and digital advertising if when people arrive on your website, they don't convert?
The most important pages on your website will likely be your home page, about page, program page and your donation conversion form. Therefore, when you hire a designer, or even if you decide to do it on your own, make it a point to have visitors convert.
In fact, remember that converting visitors is the No. 1 one thing you want to accomplish on your website. Whether it's converting them into donors or just supporters who wish to keep up to date on what you do, learn some essential tips on creating a website that converts from Quick Sprout.
In sum, we all know that marketing is essential for your group. You need to do it to raise brand awareness and also critical fundraising dollars. So understanding how to do content marketing, becoming well-versed in social media and becoming an expert is vital.
However, it's also crucial to make sure you're not wasting critical dollars.
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.”