Marketing Checklist for Non-Profit Organizations
Non-profit (or not-for-profit) organizations are unique in terms of their marketing challenges and opportunities.
With this in mind, we have created a basic marketing checklist designed specifically for non-profit organizations. While there are many different types of non-profit organizations, we focus this marketing checklist to community-focused or community service organizations rather than member-based organizations (such as chambers of commerce or professional associations).
Further, this checklist assumes that your organization operates like a typical for-profit company with the big difference being that your organization’s financing comes from charitable donations rather than “sales” of goods or services.
Also, we assume your organization has been in existence for a couple of years, and isn’t brand new. This means you have a somewhat established name, a website and perhaps a small team of employees. We’re also assuming that you want to revitalize your marketing to help increase fund-raising and name recognition. Regardless, you are looking toward improving your organization's operations and effectiveness.
Here is a brief 5-Step Marketing Checklist for Non-Profit Organizations:
1.) Define your Typical, Target Market for Charitable Donations
Regardless of your organization’s focus, it’s critical to identify and cultivate the people who will contribute the financial resources necessary to fulfill your mission. Without a strong, clear sense of who will help support your organization and why, it will be difficult to sustain your organization and mission for very long. We should not just assume our ideal supporters will find us, or that these people are familiar with our community services (and when we need money).
Create a target market profile and list of potential individual donors, charitable foundations and grant opportunities. Fund-raising is a big part of non-profit organizations and there are professionals out there with experience in non-profit fund-raising.
2.) Create Marketing Collateral that Specify How All Funds Are Spent
When asking for charitable contributions, it will be advantageous to have the ability to show exactly how every dollar donated is spent. What portion goes to the program versus what portion that gets spent on administrative items such as salaries, benefits, office space, office supplies and the like. The higher the percentage of donations that go directly toward fulfilling your program or mission services, the better your success with donors.
3.) Establish/Update your Website
Develop and maintain a professional website by including relevant, accurate information about your mission, the people you help, programs and success stories. Be sure to focus on the people you are actually helping and tell their stories. Stories work. They are impactful.
Many people will be viewing your website on a mobile device, so remember to make your website completely mobile-responsive.
Let your target audience know who you are, who you help and how people can help fulfill your mission. Your website could be where potential donors first learn about you, so make sure you create a compelling, professional first impression.
Conduct a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit/review to ensure that your website has the right settings, keywords, tags and content so you are found by the important search engines (primarily Google, and to a lesser extent, Bing) for searches related to your target audience.
Install Google Analytics on your website so you can monitor and analyze website traffic. Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that provides data and detail on website visitors and will help guide and inform your marketing initiatives. With Google Analytics, you’ll discover who is visiting your website, which pages they are reading, how long they are staying, where they are leaving and more detailed information.
4.) Focus on Digital Marketing
While an effective digital marketing strategy will be absolutely essential to your organization’s survival, be prepared to make use of the phone, in-person meetings and events.
Use the following digital marketing tools to effectively reach your potential supporters:
A) Social Media - Post to the social media platforms that are most relevant to your cause. With non-profit organizations, we suggest building a presence on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Do research to determine the best times to post, and plan your posts accordingly. Consider using a social dashboard like Hootsuite to organize social profiles into a single social dashboard, allowing you to schedule posts in advance to all profiles at once. This simplifies a cumbersome, time-consuming, but important, process.
B) Email – Email remains one of the most effective marketing tools today. It’s important to provide engaging content that will attract and maintain the attention of your target audience. Optimize your emails through A/B testing to ensure you have engaging content. Consider email automation strategies too. An important statistic to remember is that for every dollar spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return up to $38. That’s a great ROI!
C) Video – The use of video is a valuable, effective marketing tool. Video can be powerful to help tell your story and the stories of those you are helping. Research shows that organizations which use video in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t use video. Video can consist of professional video, live-stream video, or Content-Driven Video.
D) Content – Remember, content is king, and that includes social posts, blog articles, website content, eBooks, brochures, videos and more. Like your website, make all information accurate, interesting and relevant to your target audience. For post ideas, consider a social media content dashboard like PromoRepublic.
E) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems – Use a CRM system to record and keep track of contact information, donor conversations and campaigns. The best CRM systems integrate with your QuickBooks accounting systems and eliminate double-entering order and receipt information in accounting systems.
5.) Planning & Measuring Success
Building and maintaining a successful marketing strategy takes time and effort. Investing the time to regularly analyze data and performance metrics will pay off and help you reach your goals. As a manager, it is important to get into the habit of making financial projections for your organization and regularly measuring performance against projections to measure actual performance and progress toward your goals. Be prepared to share these with your benefactors, donors and volunteers.
There are many elements in any marketing strategy, but these 5 key areas should boost your marketing and help put your non-profit organization in position to be successful!