5 Situations Other Than Fundraising When Your Nonprofit Needs Marketing

6 min read

Many nonprofits are thinking too small about marketing, often because their leaders believe marketing is only necessary for fundraising. That’s not the case.

You may not be actively considering the potential impact marketing could have on your goals and ultimately, your mission. But you should be.

Many #nonprofits are thinking too small about #marketing. Click To Tweet

Here, we lay out several goals (other than fundraising) that marketing and brand management can help you achieve.

Goal 1: Building effective partnerships with businesses and other nonprofits

The best way to accelerate impact is to build meaningful partnerships with both other nonprofits, and for-profit businesses. And if you want to collaborate with other organizations who support a cause similar to yours or could compliment your efforts, you need marketing. As discussed in The Brand IDEA, leveraging your brand plays a major role in fostering these relationships.

For example, Girl Effect, a brand committed to ending global poverty, freely shared its brand assets with other large organizations, which helped spread awareness about its mission, and ultimately, increase its impact. Girl Effect has created two multimedia brands based in Rwanda and Ethiopia, Ni Nyampinga and Yegna, to inspire positive change for girls. Its partnerships with companies like Omnicom and organizations like UNICEF have furthered Girl Effect’s mission, and have been beneficial for organizations with which it partners, as well.

The best way to accelerate #impact is to build meaningful #partnerships with other organizations. Click To Tweet

On why they created Yegna, Girl Effect’s brand strategist wrote “The ability to unite all the products across the media property is tied to our thinking around brands and brand building. Yegna is what gives all our products and communications a shared sense of meaning, value and purpose.” Without leveraging a strong brand in its partnerships, Girl Effect wouldn’t have the reach and effect that it does today.

Goal 2: Developing internal cohesion and mission alignment among staff

Going through a time of change, like the transition in leadership, can often make the need for marketing suddenly apparent. But marketing can also help get everyone on your team on the same page during times of transformation and in everyday work.

As the day-to-day executors of your organization’s mission, your staff should feel like they’re making an impact on your goals. The idea of brand democracy, as described in The Brand IDEA, includes a “participative process that engages people throughout the organization and beyond the organization’s boundaries, with the result that all stakeholders become brand ambassadors.” Your organization needs to be clear about who and what your nonprofit stands for. But forcing a rigid set of messages on staff, volunteers and other team members and requesting they be used without modification isn’t organic, and won’t be effective long-term. Instead, allow staff to personalize the way they talk about your organization. Developing key messages in your marketing strategy can help them give gentle guidance to your team and allow them to tell their own stories about why your nonprofit is meaningful to them in a way that aligns with your organization’s overall brand and messaging.

Goal 3: Recruiting staff and volunteers

Finding a candidate who meets the requirements of your open position, aligns with your mission and is a good culture fit is exceedingly difficult for most nonprofits.

Traditional methods like job boards and recruitment events can only go so far. But innovative approaches like Inbound marketing can help you attract the best candidates who are the right culture fit for your organization.

Finding talent that aligns with your #mission and is a good culture fit is exceedingly difficult for most #nonprofits. Click To Tweet

Today, active jobseekers are more likely to get an initial impression of your organization by surfing the web or coming across one of your social media accounts. That’s why it’s critical to integrate your mission in all of your communications. Once jobseekers or potential volunteers are on your website, you can also use strategic calls to action to get them to sign up for additional resources or an email newsletter. From there, you can keep them interested in your nonprofit’s cause through email nurturing and encourage them to apply for an open position or volunteer opportunity.

Goal 4: Attracting and retaining members (for membership organizations and associations)

If your nonprofit relies on membership fees to function, your top concerns likely center on how to keep these members engaged and how to attract new ones. While you may not consider membership fees a type of fundraising, you should employ marketing to the same extent as you would for a fundraising campaign to get those members in the door and keep them active.

New members need to be encouraged to get  and stay involved –– perhaps through an engaging social media campaign or events that foster meaningful connections. Meanwhile, current members should be continuously reminded of why they joined and why they should stay involved –– potentially through an email campaign that highlights your biggest points of impact. Without marketing, your organization’s mission may not continue to resonate with members, causing current members drop out and prevent new members from wanting to join.

Goal 5: Generating earned revenue from programs and services

Many of today’s savviest nonprofits focus on revenue generation and earned income rather than (or in addition to) fundraising or membership fees. Perhaps the most well-known example of a nonprofit focused on earned income strategies is Goodwill, which uses the sales of second-hand goods in its retail stores to support programs for people with barriers to employment, including veterans, people with disabilities and individuals with criminal backgrounds. Kiva, a microfinance platform, also generates funds through its loan program where individuals and organizations can lend money to entrepreneurs in the developing world. But there are thousands of smaller or local nonprofit organizations that generate revenue as well, like Inspiration Kitchens, which employs low-income and homeless Chicagoans in its restaurant.  

If your nonprofit’s main source of funds is through revenue from programs or services, your nonprofit needs marketing to understand and attract your target customers, encourage them to sign up for your program or purchase your service or product, and keep them coming back.

Today’s nonprofits leverage marketing for more than fundraising.

Join other top nonprofits as they move toward a new nonprofit branding paradigm — one that recognizes brand as a tool for driving internal cohesion and capacity, mission advancement and social impact beyond fundraising. Download our ebook to to learn what nonprofits like The Y and Opportunity International are doing to move toward the new nonprofit brand paradigm. Then, score your nonprofit brand on the Brand IDEA Framework to determine whether it’s ready for the future.

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