Here’s a true story: A nonprofit was used to finding all of their clients through face-to-face contact. No one had considered any other means. Their website was barely functional, with no mention of their nonprofit status; it directed visitors to an email address that no one was monitoring; and it lacked information about who they were and who they served. It was hardly more than a holding page and was their only marketing effort.
As a result, the community had an entirely misguided idea of the nonprofit’s purpose. In fact, the community thought it was a for-profit company. The nonprofit was even accused by other organizations of “raiding” clients!
The ABCs of nonprofit marketing are the same as the ABCs of for-profit marketing (audience-specific, balanced, and complete), as described in my previous blog post. But here are some of the most common errors that nonprofits make in marketing materials:
- They neglect to say that they are a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Your nonprofit status is important to donors and granting organizations. Include that information somewhere on all your marketing materials and proposals.
- They make it difficult for anyone to reach them. Reaching the organization should be the easiest process, whether it’s through a link on your website, an email address and phone number on your brochure, a return envelope in your appeal letter, or an article about places where you’ll be presenting or setting up a booth.
- They do not consider the general public. The general public is filled with potential clients, donors, and volunteers. If all your marketing efforts are directed to known clients and known donors, you are missing a large part of your audience. You are also neglecting to build community support.
The nonprofit described above asked me to turn their marketing efforts around. I stressed that one of the most important tasks that nonprofit marketing can accomplish is to put a face on the organization, including clients, donors, and volunteers.
I rewrote and drastically broadened the website content, and made sure that contact was simple, direct, and monitored. I wrote articles about the nonprofit, welcoming new Board members, thanking donors, and featuring (anonymous) client successes. I started a Facebook page. Once the community understood how the nonprofit was helping families right in their neighborhood, the nonprofit began to receive community-based grants and word of mouth referrals. The revised marketing opened up areas of financial support, but more importantly reached clients the nonprofit had not reached before–without jeopardizing its relationship with other organizations.
If your nonprofit is stagnating; if your marketing efforts are one-note; and if you haven’t revised your marketing materials in years, now is the time to contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.