Marketing your Nonprofit Organization

The Delaware County Community Foundation (DCCF) recently wrapped up its Morning Buzz series on Fundraising and Marketing for Nonprofits. The first four presentations focused on Fundraising for Nonprofits.

The second part of the series featured sessions on Promoting and Marketing your Nonprofit. Major topics covered were Marketing on a Budget; Media Relations; Crisis Communications, and Social Media.

Here are a few tips from these sessions:

Marketing on a budget is possible! There are several ways you can approach marketing that will yield results without breaking the bank. Public Relations is one effective and low-cost way to get the word out through various print and electronic media. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations (PR) is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  When done right, public relations can enhance the message that you want to convey about your organization through articles and posts that tell a story. Public relations include print and electronic communications. Digital media, including social media and websites, is a necessity today for any business or organization and is a good way to get the biggest bang for your buck. For more information about marketing on a budget, click here.

Media Relations: Even with all of the mediums available to get your message out, media relations is still an important part of your communications/public relations plan. The key word here is “relations.” Yes, sending press releases and calendar announcements are one way to get coverage, but more likely than not, if you get to know the media and they know you, your story or news has a better chance of getting picked up. Even though you can control the message, advertising can sometimes be expensive. Having a journalist write about your organization lends credibility to the story. Here are some tips:

  • Develop a list of key media in your target market and do the research. Read their articles. What type of news items do they cover? What is their deadline (i.e. weekly/daily)? Do they accept phone calls (some don’t) or would they rather be contacted by e-mail? Follow them on twitter. Have them follow you on twitter.
  • Become a resource for them. Like any relationship, your relationship with a journalist is reciprocal. Become a source for them and the next time a reporter needs a quote/spokesperson or a story idea, they may pick up the phone and call you.
  • Pitching stories. Is it newsworthy? Is your news/story relevant or interesting for their readers? Is there something unique or inspirational to tell? Find the angle. Is there a photo op (opportunity)? One picture can tell a thousand words. Most, if not all news outlets have some type of digital site in addition to print media, which would lend itself to videos.

Crisis Communications:  Expect the unexpected. It is important to have a plan in place to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation. Let’s face it, sometimes things happen within and/or to our organizations that reflect poorly on the organization/management/stakeholders, or could even be a danger to the community.

  • Have a crisis communications plan. The time to develop a crisis communications plan is before you actually have a crisis. Think about all of the things that could go wrong to negatively affect your organization and plan for them.
  • Notify your stakeholders. How are you going to communicate a crisis to your stakeholders? How are you going to communicate this to your employees?
  • Crisis Communications Team: Designate a spokesperson to respond to the media. Be honest and be accessible. If you don’t have all of the information, yet, say so. If you don’t respond to the media, they will come to their own conclusions and the public will think the organization is avoiding the issue or hiding something. Make sure you have all of the facts.
  • Communicate what you are doing/going to do to fix the situation. Also, Monitor media outlets – know what is being said out there about the crisis and the organization.
  • Post-crisis analysis – what did you learn from this? What can you do better next time?

Social media marketing (SMM) takes advantage of social networking to help an organization increase brand exposure and broaden its reach. The goal is usually to create content compelling enough that users will share it with their social networks. Like any type of marketing, you should have a plan.

  • Depending on your organization and the messages you want to convey, there is a variety of social media outlets to utilize. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are some of the most popular. Because new types of social media networks are popping up every day, it may seem a little overwhelming.
  • Don’t try to be on every social media outlet. You probably don’t have the time or the staff to do that. Pick a few that work for your organization and your target audience (and remember, more and more seniors use social media as well as millennials!)
  • For best results, have a combination of earned media (media generated by you) and paid media (advertising).




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