Use Marketing To Grow Your Non-Profit
A business is only as good as its marketing-your non-profit can have the noblest aspirations in the world, but if no one knows about who you are and what you’re trying to do, they won’t be able to help. That is why it is essential that any non-profit develop a well-thought-out marketing strategy. Many people in the non-profit sector shy away from such development, because they think of marketing as something that for-profit organizations use in order to sell products. But effective marketing in any sector is about disseminating information to the right people, and that counts for non-profits the same way it does for anyone else. When you’re a non-profit dependent upon donations and public interest, what other people don’t know about you can hurt you.
That said, the marketing approach in the non-profit sector is slightly different than what you see elsewhere. You aren’t dealing in products so much as information and emotion-you’re trying to sell an idea of how things should be, and your method for getting there. If your marketing is going to be effective, it is pivotal that you establish marketing goals for your non-profit, and write out a formalized long-term strategy for achieving them. Luckily, you can use a lot of conventional marketing campaign tactics to do this.
The biggest favor you can do yourself is take a look at the established non-profits around you before you finalize your campaign. Any successful non-profit has a marketing strategy, and their strategies can tell you a lot about the road ahead. Meet with other non-profits in your area, and find out what worked for them. If they are working in a similar or related field, you might even consider such a meeting as the groundwork for a future relationship between your organizations.
Once you have decided who you are trying to reach out to and what you hope to achieve by reaching them, you can begin to create promotional materials for your campaign. These should emphasize both the overall message and goals of your organization, as well as your specific efforts to get you there. Brochures and marketing pieces might sound old-fashioned, but they are still one of the most effective ways of getting your message out.
To balance these stand-by tactics, your non-profit should always run an up-to-date, attractive website. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; in fact, when you’re on a tight budget, simple and informational is usually better. If you have the resources to devote to it, use your website to promote events and discuss recent successes (a monthly e-newsletter can be a great informational tool), and to create an online forum for discussion of issues concerning your organization. A good website can shoulder a lot of the burden of getting your message out there, if you use your other resources to alert people to its existence.
Do what you can to develop a strong relationship with the local media. You might value modesty as a virtue, but non-profits can’t afford to not blow their own horn-if you don’t do it, no one else will. If your organization achieves one of its goals, announce it on every available forum, always with an emphasis on your next concrete step. If you can, provide your organization’s community with a specific example of how they have helped your organization make a difference; people care about the broader issues, but it will always be easier for them to think about them in terms of individual stories. Give them a story, and you will remind them exactly what it is that you are all working for.
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