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8 Effective tips on how to market your nonprofit to donors

Nonprofit’s ability to draw donor attention depends largely on their capability to effectively market the organization in a manner that will appease donors. How you position yourself in the market matters. How do you stand out from the other nonprofit doing the same thing as you? 

Luckily, we’ve got some tips on how to best market your nonprofit to donors and increase your donations. Most of them seem obvious but are easily ignored by many yet they are key to achieving your mission. 

1. Identify potential donors 

This is the first step in getting donors on board. You cannot market your organisation to just anyone. The ABCs to follow are; 

Access: Do you know the potential donor? (Note: that rich strangers are generally not prospects.)

Belief: Does this person care about your cause?

Capacity: Do they have money to give?

Determine your donor’s beliefs and capacity for giving. Determine if the prospective donor believes in your organization’s causes and projects or if the prospective donor has some interest in your nonprofit’s platform. A strong reference to your potential donor goes a long way in approaching with confidence and not bring discomfort to him or her. 

2. Invest in good design. 

You want donors to invest in your dream? Invest in yourself first. 

Say you run a retail clothes shop. Customers won’t walk in if it’s disorganised, if the clothes are not put up on hangers or mannequins. Same applies to your donors. They won’t walk into your world when you have an unappealing aesthetic on your social media pages and website. Remember that 90% of people are lured to read by good design. The photos, the font, the layout- it all matters because it’s what they see first. 

Great design helps your brand stand out and attract more donors and stakeholders. If you lack inhouse talent to help take powerful photos, videos or graphics, hire talent to help as it will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. C’mon, give your donors a run for their money! 

3. Leverage story-telling 

To attract donors, you need to use good storytelling to evoke people’s emotions. 

A well-crafted story can help people relate to your work, core values, and the people you serve. The more relatable you are, the more likely you’re to get donors to invest in your brand and take up your mission as their own. 

Charity Water is king in effectively using cause marketing to push their campaigns. They use a lot of story-telling through compelling videos to show evidence of what they’re doing and how necessary it is to their beneficiaries. They run a series of their work in every country they go to which is a smart way to consistently keep their audience updated and have reason to donate.

4. Get familiar with fundraising psychology

Great marketers in the commercial world are masters at psychology. Nonprofits should also understand the psychology of giving. Let me outline for you some cognitive biases that will help you market better. 

  • Effective Frequency. The more you see or hear something, the more likely you believe it. This is why repetitive messaging is so important in fundraising. By the time you’re tired of pushing the same message, your audience is just starting to take notice of it. 
  • Fear of missing out. Our strong need to keep up with other people. A clear deadline — a fast-approaching moment when they won’t be able to make the difference — is critical to fundraising.
  • Herd mentality. We have a strong tendency to do what we see other people doing. You must, therefore, show your audience that other people support the cause. 
  • Framing. The context of information influences how we interpret it. How you present information to your audience is how they’ll interpret it. That is why you must be careful to not present a campaign in a manner that gives so many different interpretations. 
  • Influencer bias. We believe an authority figure more easily than anyone else. Another reason to use celebrity endorsements in your campaigns.  
  • Loss aversion. We usually consider it more important not to lose something than to gain something. This is why fundraising that focuses on fixing or rescuing something is so much more effective than “keep our kids in school” type of fundraising. 
  • Hyperbolic discounting bias. We usually prefer immediate payoffs over long-term payoffs. Make it clear that the donor’s gift will start making a difference immediately.

5. Get creative with your fundraising campaigns 

Spice things up by thinking outside of the ‘nonprofit narrative’ and get smarter. I’m not asking you to make people laugh. I’m asking you to create a magnet, something unusual that you would never expect of a nonprofit to do. I keep going back to this video by Save The Children that was created 6 years ago but is still very relevant today. They could have chosen the normal boring storyline, “these kids are war victims, please donate”. They instead chose to show the effects first hand instead of telling. Super creative and engaging! 

Again, social media is a go-to for creating awareness and engagement for your campaign. You can do so by creating a fundraising tab on Facebook and partnering with an organisation for the same cause if possible. Read more on our tips on nailing it on social media at a low budget. 

6. Authenticity and transparency 

“Blah blah blah” is not something you want your reader to say when they visit your website. It should feel authentic and real. Like there’s a human brand persona to the brand, like it is someone you’d like to listen to. 

Many donors bounce if first of all, they aren’t given impact reports. Secondly, if it isn’t communicated clearly who exactly you’re helping and why. 

What’s your go-to line to ask people to donate? Ours is, “Every Purchase Empowers the Youth” 

Look at the first thing you see when you visit Charity Water website. Don’t you feel compelled to be a part of their ambitious dream?

7. Book speaking engagements

One way to get your nonprofit known at a personal level is through social events. If you want to build donor relationships, seek out events that relate with your mission and ask for speaking opportunities. Do meet & greets with potential advocates and donors and avoid talking about yourself only. Make them feel involved and pitch in a way that they too can benefit from working with you. 

8. Develop an email strategy

Here’s a pro email marketing tip. Email outreach is one of the best ways to attract donors and encourage giving. You must have a set strategy and plan for your emails so that they help you fundraise. Segment your emails to focus on specific niches of your audience. Personalize the “From” and “Reply-To:” fields with a person’s name rather than the organisation name. 

Once you acquire donors, break them up into smaller lists by donation amount and programs they donate to so you can send the right messages to the right people. Many email marketing services, like MailChimp do a great job in keeping your donors informed. If you don’t have the time and expertise on how to write and design your content in Mailchimp, reach out today so we can help you connect more deeply with your donors. 

Regardless of whether your organization addresses women or HIV?AIDS, these are strategies you can use to attract donors and get the ball rolling! Tell good stories, invest in good design, attend events to network, be open-minded, and stay open-hearted. You’re not forgotten, you just have to go a little harder for the world to see you.

Tess Hazel

Tess Hazel is the copywriter at era92 Creative. She loves to read novels and runs a personal blog about poetry and creative nonfiction short stories.

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9385 12th Ave Sw seattle, wa 98106
+1(213) 674-9869
info@era92.com

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+44 7956 989809‬

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+256 784 239 786‬
info@era92.com

USA Office

9385 12th Ave Sw seattle, wa 98106
+1(213) 674-9869
info@era92.com

UK Office

12 Mill Square Portstewart BT55 7TB Northern Ireland
+44 7956 989809‬

Uganda Office

Lungujja, Kampala along Kalema Road
+256 784 239 786‬
info@era92.com
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