Nonprofit marketing and communications: that’s where our hearts are. Working together to make the world a better place. Because nonprofits dedicate themselves to providing vital services to those in need, they often prioritize their focus on crucial elements like fundraising and programming—which limits their ability to focus as much on marketing and communications.
Our experience working with corporate partners, however, shows us what nonprofits can do to improve their marketing and communications outcomes. By adopting some key practices, nonprofits can improve the success of their strategies.
Here are four tips for nonprofits from corporate marketing and communications.
1. Have a clear call to action for each strategy
In corporate marketing and communications, every strategy is carefully crafted with a specific goal in mind. They want to sell products, re-engage customers, promote their brands.
We believe it’s worth it for nonprofits to do the same. People receive so much content every day, so it’s important for nonprofits to be clear about what they want from their audiences.
By being specific, you can increase the chances that your audience will take the action you want them to. Whether your goal is to convey information, shape a conversation, or inspire donations, you need to make sure to include a clear call to action in each strategy.
Here’s an example: Imagine you have an event coming up. You could run a targeted digital ad campaign with a call-to-action to get people to register to attend. That specific, clear campaign can significantly support broader efforts to raise awareness about the event.
2. Be deliberate about your channels
It’s tempting to try to be everywhere. To create a profile on every social media platform and buy ads in every possible outlet… but that can spread nonprofits too thin. And it doesn’t get the desired results anyway.
Instead, we recommend focusing on specific channels that your target audience is actually using. It might look like every corporation has a presence everywhere—and if they have the resources, maybe they are. We’ve seen, however, that a quality presence outperforms a token one that’s just going through the motions. Spend more time creating quality content over quantity.
Here’s what our director of digital marketing, Sonya Schweitzer, has to say about this: “Consistency is key. Posting occasionally on social media doesn’t work with the social algorithms (they favor brands that are consistent on their platforms). Focus on channels that work well together and can ‘feed’ off each other—like content and media relations and social media ads.”
3. Measure your ROI
On that note, it’s not enough to just implement strategies and hope for the best. Like corporations, nonprofits should prioritize measuring the return on investment of their marketing and communications efforts. Find out what’s working and what’s not.
By treating volunteer outreach and other communications initiatives, for example, as sales and marketing activities, nonprofits can identify areas for improvement, optimize their strategies, and focus on activities that generate meaningful results.
Of course, adding data analysis is an additional workload. But there are simple ways to start mixing it into your marketing and communications practice. That’s how you can start telling which strategies are moving you toward your desired goals. Plus, by dedicating your time and efforts to what makes the most impact, you’ll be helping your organization make a greater change.
4. Align corporate partnerships with your mission and vision
Corporations are careful about partnerships with their peers—thinking carefully about how it makes them look, what risks there are to their reputations, if it makes sense for the bottom line.
But both nonprofits and corporations face challenges when it comes to partnering with each other. Nonprofit organizations don’t always feel that they can afford to be selective when it comes to corporate partnerships. They feel compelled to accept any funding opportunity. Corporations also might prioritize unrelated projects or generic partnerships.
True success lies in aligning corporate partnerships with the nonprofit’s mission and vision. Authentic collaboration allows us to benefit from each other’s marketing and communications efforts.
We saw this most recently with United Way’s partnership with Deloitte for the ALICE report. Since the ALICE report includes research on how working individuals and families struggle to afford basic necessities like healthcare, it made sense for the Deloitte Health Equity Institute to get involved. “Deloitte’s nationwide, longstanding institution, but they have the Deloitte Health Equity Institute that’s specifically aligning with nonprofits like United Way,” Liza Sacilioc, our content strategist, explains. “That’s genuine. It feels good all around.”
Moving forward with these lessons
We’re seeing these corporate communications approaches in work focused on creating a positive impact, within B-Corps and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) departments. They’re aligning their marketing efforts with their audience’s values. Approaching selling positive impact to their audiences using lessons learned from selling their products and services.
By following these lessons, nonprofits too can improve their marketing and communications—and increase their ability to make a positive difference in the world.