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Miracle Marketing for Your New Nonprofit, Part One: Who You’re Talking To (and How!)

More than in any other sector, nonprofits are used to bootstrapping their way through existence. And chances are, if you’re a brand new organization, you’re just trying to get it all done and provide some solid programming for your community along the way. 

A flat lay of sticky notes on a desktop. They say things like "strategy," "growth," and "customers first." A hand holds a Sharpie marker. Planning is the key to successful marketing strategies for new nonprofits.

Maybe you’ve hired someone for fundraising. Someone else to write newsletters and social posts. Maybe that’s the same person. (Maybe it’s you!)

It’s very possible that you don’t have a single, cohesive marketing plan that marries your fundraising, communications, and programs all together. 

In fact, a lot of nonprofits don’t. 

Marketing as an overarching strategy can easily fall by the wayside amidst full days and minimal resources. 

So why “miracle” marketing? Because when you do have a plan that makes sense, runs smoothly, and gets you results, you’ll avoid the quicksand of piecemeal fundraising and communications efforts.And the time you’ll get back will definitely feel like a miracle.

Successful marketing strategies for new nonprofits share a number of commonalities.

In the first part of this two-part series on marketing for new nonprofits, let’s talk about the who

Specifically, your target audience and how you communicate with them.

And don’t forget – you can read the longer, more detailed version of this blog by joining THE LAUNCHPAD. NPO Centric’s membership program brings regular tips, tricks, and best practices to nonprofit leaders across the country. Join us today for more nonprofit marketing tips!

Defining Your Goals

Successful marketing strategies for new nonprofits start with a defined goal. 

Yep – just one. 

At any point in time, you should have a primary goal for all your marketing efforts. This goal can and should be reviewed and adjusted regularly. But if you don’t focus your energy around a single goal, you run the risk of competing calls to action becoming nothing more than background noise to potential supporters.

So are you focused on fundraising? Building your email list? Are you signing up new program participants? 

Use the SMART framework to set objectives, and think about how your goals work together. Maybe you’re focusing on building your email list right now, for example, so you can switch to running a successful fundraising campaign in a couple of months.

Creating Personas for A Successful Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

Eight wooden pins that resemble people are arranged in a half-circle around a flat wooden heart. The two middle pins are painted blue and red. This image represents a nonprofit's target personas amongst all possible donors and supporters.

It’s not enough to cast a wide net with your messaging and hope to hook the big fish.

In other words, “donors and funders” isn’t an adequate response to the question, “Who’s your website audience?”

Every potential supporter or program participant has their own perspectives, preferences, and passions. That’s why it’s critical to develop your personas

Think of your potential supporters as people you’d meet at a dinner party. Give them names. Sketch what their average day looks like, and note their hopes and fears. Ask yourself why they’d really care about your organization.

Once you’ve got this persona in mind, it will be a lot easier to write direct, compelling messages that hook their attention.

Focus On Compelling Copy and Relevant Stories

So what do those compelling messages consist of? Great question! 

Start with integrating the basics of good copywriting. Craft a clear message that fully communicates the value of your organization’s work. 

Once you’ve defined your personas, you can:

  • Choose a tone for your writing that resonates with them
  • Tell them about the parts of your organization they’re most interested in
  • Address concerns they might have about donating or volunteering with you 
  • Share testimonials or other kind words from current supporters or program participants

Most importantly, stay direct and on-message. Don’t lose your audience with too much fluff!

Use story to draw supporters in.

Facts and figures alone aren’t enough to compel most people to spend their money or time. Humans like connection, and we want to know our contributions are making a difference. 

You know your organization is doing valuable work in your community. You see it firsthand. The best way to let others see it, too, is to make good use of storytelling. Select stories and successes that best showcase the things your supporters (your personas!) would connect most strongly with. 

Be sure to get consent and tell these stories ethically and intentionally.  

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Miracle Marketing series, and don't forget to check out THE LAUNCHPAD for more resources.

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