I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few high-impact nonprofits over the years. And for the most part, it’s been a gratifying and rewarding experience. My company – Red Bamboo Marketing – has had the opportunity to work with the Central Jersey Blood Center, FORCE, and the Hope for Children Foundation of New Jersey.
Each of these nonprofits faces its own unique marketing challenges, but many similarities exist. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned.
Don’t Oversaturate Your Messaging
It can be tempting – very tempting – to over communicate with your supporters. This is especially true when running a charity event, because empty seats mean missed chances.
But the long term danger of oversaturation greatly outweighs the short term benefits. Too many emails, text messages or phone calls will annoy your support base, leading to opt-outs and unsubscribes. It also has the dual issue of diluting your messages, driving per message engagement way down.
In my experience, the most effective way to avoid oversaturation is to create a long-term communications plan and stick with it. Map out your campaigns, decide how you’ll communicate and decide upon the maximum number of touches per supporter each month.
Another helpful way to reduce oversaturation is to segment your supporters into well-defined groups, such as “Volunteers”, “Power Donors” and “Sponsors”. This allows you to communicate with the right people at the right time, and reduce the number of touches per supporter throughout the year.
Connect the Dots for Donors
Nonprofit employees and volunteers are some of the most passionate individuals I’ve ever worked with. And the reason is simple: They see the real world impact of their work on a daily basis. The same can’t always be said for your supporters. They often need a reminder of where their time, money (or both) are going.
This can be achieved by changing the focus of your communications on the end recipients of your work. For example:
Less Effective Communication: “We need your support to help our organization serve our community.”
Highly Effective Communication: “Every dollar you donate will benefit local children like Timmy O’Sullivan, a Middletown boy who…”
A great example of this type of communication can be seen in the Hope for Children video we produced, profiling those we’ve helped over the years:
Our supporters loved the video, telling our team it was great to “meet” some of the people that their donations were benefiting. This led to new donations and increased engagement.
Take Advantages of Free Resources
Every dollar spent on overhead is a dollar that doesn’t benefit your cause. And yet you need technology and other solutions to enable your marketing communications. Solutions like email, productivity tools, and advertising usually top the list, yet many traditional options can come at a large cost.
Luckily, many of the brand name tech companies offer free or reduced price offerings for registered nonprofits. Below are some of my favorites:
- $10,000/month grant for AdWords search advertising
- Free email, calendar, & storage powered by Google Apps
- Highly discounted Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.)
- Free business-class email, calendar & storage powered by Office365
- Send up to 10,000 blast emails or newsletters a month for free
- Discounted credit card processing fees
- Free software & hardware for collecting donations on-site
Got any additional tips for nonprofit marketing? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!