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Do Traditional Marketing Strategies Still Work for Non-Profits?

 

As the name implies, a non-profit organization (NPO) does not operate to generate profits for shareholders. NPOs raise money to fund specific causes, such as fighting breast cancer or eradicating third world hunger. The non-profit business model may make it seem like the organizations do not need to market their services. But is this accurate? Don’t NPOs need to implement compelling marketing strategies to raise money and attract volunteers? NPOs rely on their own form of customers: donors, supporters, and volunteers. So, with the answer to the question of whether or note  NPOs need established and successful marketing strategy being a resounding “YES!”. The next question is what type of marketing strategies should NPOs implement to achieve their goals? Do traditional marketing strategies still work for non-profits? If not, then what are the alternatives? This article is going to give some insights and answers to these questions.

The Traditional Marketing Strategies that Still Work for Nonprofits

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Two traditional NPO marketing strategies have fallen by the wayside. For the five years preceding 2013, billboard advertising fell at an annual rate of nearly two percent. With an increasing number of people glued to their electronic devices at stoplights, large billboards just do not have the power that they once had to convey effective marketing messages. Televison has become another traditional marketing dinosaur, as NPOs have a difficult time capturing viewer interest during commercial breaks.

So, what traditional marketing strategies for nonprofits will still work?

In Person Networking

In person networking will likely never go out of favor for NPOs. One of the most effective ways for NPOs to market their causes is through having representatives present at seminars and conferences that discuss the cause related topics. For example, a cancer awareness non-profit can attend research seminars to learn about the latest breakthroughs that they can later share with potential donors and volunteers. Setting up a booth at a multi-day civic event represents a great way to increase the exposure of your non-profit organization. By interacting with potential donors and volunteers in person, you connect a face with your cause, which increases word of mouth advertising for your NPO. Over two-thirds of non-profits that responded to a recent survey stated in person networking remains the most viable way to raise money and recruit volunteers.

Branding Through Print

Handing a piece of printed-paper to potential donors and volunteers still packs a strong marketing punch. The recipients of your printed marketing pieces have something tangible they can refer to for learning more about your cause. Printed marketing pieces can include brochures, pamphlets, and one-page summaries of your organization. The printed marketing tools work effectively at in person networking at events and seminars. Look at printed marketing materials as more affordable, more personal, and more effective versions of billboard advertising.

Tips for Implementing Successful Traditional Marketing Strategies

You cannot expect to just show up at a seminar and attract donors and volunteers to your nonprofit. You need to engage your potential donors and volunteers both in print and in person. By telling compelling stories, you create an indelible connection with both donors and volunteers. The stories may describe how and why the organization formed; or tell personal stories of how the organization’s resources impacted the cause or provided a solution. You do need to develop a detailed plan for implementing traditional marketing methods and spend the money necessary to see your marketing plan reach successful fruition. Make sure you identify your target audience (i.e., who is likely to donate to your cause) and gear your print marketing materials toward them.

Why Online Marketing Represents the Future for NPOs

According to a recent online article, 92% of non-profit organizations use content marketing to get out the message. However, the online marketing paradigm has dramatically changed over the past 10 years. With over 60% of mobile device users making online purchases exclusively from their smartphone and tablets, it makes sense for NPOs to target mobile device customers with their online marketing programs. However, which of the online marketing strategies works best for NPOs?

Social Media Rules the NPO Marketing World

Ask any small business owner why he or she has a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and the answer boils down to one word: Exposure. Social media has boosted small business brands to the point that the some brands have gained equal footing with the big boys. NPOs benefit from social media exposure in a similar way. With 47% of Americans learning about causes via social media, it is wise for NPOs to get onboard the social media train before it leaves the station. Increasing the exposure of your cause enhances your NPO’s fundraising campaigns. The percentage of NPOs that raised between $1 and $10,000 on social networking sites during 2012 has climbed to 56%.

Why Content is King for NPOs

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Content marketing does not come with a failsafe template. Your NPO website and social media pages need toexperiment with a few strategies, before finding the ones that reach donors and volunteers.Your NPO website blog can include content that explains the reason for your cause, as well as provide website visitors with tips on how to help your NPO. Social media content marketing include posting updates about fundraising campaigns on Facebook and shouting out a big thank you to donors and volunteers via Twitter. NPO content marketing comprises many of the same principles that small businesses use to rank high in the search engines: fresh, relevant content that incorporates the best SEO practices.

Non-profits perform important work that change the world. However, NPOs need attention and resources to turn a cogent mission into a successful operation.Since most NPOs run on limited budgets, marketing expenses can fall below what is needed to attract donors and volunteers. NPOs need to create awareness, without draining limited budgets. So, while some traditional marketing strategies do continue to serve NPOs, NPOs must make sure their marketing dollars are being concentrated on those that are most effective and should also develop online marketing strategies that will reach target audiences.

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