By the Numbers: Why Nonprofits Matter
To say that nonprofits play an important role in our society is something of an understatement, but this sentiment runs even deeper than you might think.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are over 1.5 million tax-empty nonprofit organizations currently operating in the U.S. This breaks down to include:
● 1,097,000 public charities
● 105,030 private foundations
● 368,337 other types of nonprofit businesses (civic leagues, fraternal organizations and others)
Interestingly, 9.2 percent of all wages and salaries paid in the U.S. in 2010 came from these nonprofit businesses. In terms of the GDP of the country, about 5.3 percent of it comes from organizations operating in this space.
So, not only are nonprofits playing an important role in the general betterment of society, but they're actually a hugely important part of our economy at the same time. Even if you're not directly affected by the charity or cause a nonprofit represents, you absolutely are in other ways.
If nonprofit organizations were to suddenly disappear overnight, all of our lives would suddenly look very different.
This is a large part of the reason why, when it comes to marketing, the focus nonprofits take is especially important—they've got a message that is essential from a number of angles, and they need to find a way to communicate that as effectively as they can.
Misconceptions About Nonprofits and Marketing
Regardless of the type of business you're running, marketing is all about the underlying message that you're trying to communicate. Whether you're releasing a new product or service into the world, or you're a nonprofit trying to garner support for an upcoming cause or event, how you choose to communicate that message directly affects how it will be perceived, how much attention it will get and more.
This transitions into one of the biggest misconceptions about nonprofit organizations and marketing—just because the message is important doesn't mean that you have to hire an expensive agency to create professional content.
While you can hire an agency if you choose to, modern technology has made it easier than ever to establish this emotional connection yourself. You can easily use tools like Visme.
Think about it like this: At the end of the day, what is an expensive marketing agency actually supposed to do for you, anyway? The major role they play can be broken down into two simple parts: They help you identify the narrative that will reach your audience from an emotional perspective, and they come up with the collateral to strengthen and support that message as it makes its way out into the world.
For nonprofits in particular, that first part is essentially already taken care of. You already have a strong emotional narrative—it's serving as the foundation of your organization right now. It's the cause you're supporting or the issue you're trying to raise awareness for or the incredible charitable drive you have when you come into work each day in the first place.
The Power of Modern Marketing Tools
To the second point, tools make it easier than ever to take data, visualize it in a captivating way and wrap it all up in a nice bow that guarantees people really sit up and pay attention to it.
Let's say you've just had a great year for your nonprofit, and you want to create a piece of new marketing collateral to let everyone see how your efforts have paid off throughout the year.
Taking the data that you've already been generating, you can visualize that content by way of an infographic that shows where you started at the beginning of the year, what you did throughout and how that positively impacted the people you're trying to help in the first place.
You don't actually need to spend a huge portion of your marketing budget on trying to hire the right agency to do this—it's never been easier than it is today to do all of this and more in-house.
You don't need to devote a huge amount of time and energy to hiring "professionals" to cut through all the noise and get at the compelling message underneath your business activities. You're in a better position than almost any other type of organization just by virtue of the fact that you're a nonprofit in the first place.
If you didn't already know what that narrative was and why it matters in terms of its impact on our society, you wouldn't have a nonprofit in the first place.
It's All in the Message
An old rule of thumb tells us that regardless of what you're selling, your marketing needs to be less about your company and more about the customers you're trying to serve. It's not "look what we can do and how impressive we are." It's more "look at what we can do for you and why it matters in your life."
For a nonprofit, you have the benefit of knowing that everything you do each day reinforces these two simple-yet-essential ideas.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonprofits have a volunteer rate of about 25.3 percent annually—or roughly 62.8 million people per year. At the same time, Americans (including private citizens, corporations and foundations) gave about $335 billion to charity last year alone.
People are already receptive to nonprofits. They already appreciate what you do. They already wish they could do more to help.
By doubling down on the important role you're already playing and by using tools to hone your marketing message in a way that is very easy to do in-house, you can give them the guidance they need to not only understand why you matter, but to tell them how they can do their part to help, too.
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland based digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.