Four Limiting Beliefs That Cause Nonprofits To Fail At Marketing

It’s a widely accepted truth that every organization should share on social media platforms and use online marketing techniques to attract new donors and supporters. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean every organization scores at their marketing or social media game. Many nonprofits fail at their marketing efforts, and that can have damaging consequences to the effectiveness of their mission.

Some common excuses, or limiting beliefs, that you’ve probably heard or used yourself include:

“Marketing is expensive, it’s a luxury, and we just can’t afford it right now.”

“Marketing takes too much time.”

“We don’t have a marketing department or the space to devote to one.”

“Anything will do, just post something to get the word out.”

When it comes right down to it, many people find marketing intimidating or don’t understand what it does for their organization. Below, Insquired reviews four common beliefs that get organizations into trouble when it comes to marketing, and simple solutions to turn it around.

LIMITING BELIEF 1: IT COSTS TOO MUCH MONEY

Marketing is often associated with massive costs and viewed as a luxury. That’s not surprising considering many large operations have entire departments devoted to marketing and social media. That just goes to show how important these efforts are, but it doesn’t mean you also have to invest that same amount of money, time, or employees to be successful in this arena.

If your nonprofit or business is new, you likely aren’t investing money into marketing just yet because you feel it’s a luxury you can’t afford, it feels unnecessary since you’re just starting out, or you don’t fully understand what it can do for your organization.

Fortunately, you can begin marketing efforts for low to no cost to start. Social media platforms are a free way to get your info out and to connect with supporters. By diligently posting and sharing posts from similar nonprofits in your industry, you can start attracting more supporters and leading them to your website. Eventually, you may decide to invest in some online ads or marketing materials like flyers that can be sent in the mail. Again, these are relatively low-cost ways to get the word out and hopefully draw new supporters or followers in.

LIMITING BELIEF 2: IT TAKES TOO MUCH TIME

Again, when you start thinking about those entities with entire floors devoted to marketing teams that work around the clock just on their marketing strategy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or intimidated. However, marketing can be just as effective if all you have to invest right now is a little time.

In order to reach a national or global audience and increase your impact, you need to be online and active. You may think, “That’s why I have a website to get the word out and share information.” That’s important too, but your website is a passive thing, basically sitting and waiting to be discovered by the right web search. Your marketing efforts are more proactive in bringing new supporters to you because there’s a constant stream of new resources, content, and materials being shared, helping you to stay fresh and relevant in online searches.

Posting on your social media pages once a day or sending out one weekly newsletter is enough to build momentum by reminding people, you’re operational, expanding, and in need of resources to accomplish your mission. Even if you don’t have new content to post on your pages, responding to comments, sharing relevant news or info from other sources, or leaving comments on fellow nonprofit profiles can help you engage a new audience and get some attention on your mission. The more content you’re able to put out there, the more chances there are for people to discover you and get involved.

These efforts will take some time before you see the engagement you want, but it’s important to remain consistent. Once you’re in a good flow and see some momentum building, try to increase the number of posts you make or the time you take to personally connect with your followers each day.

LIMITING BELIEF 3: MARKETING ISN’T THAT IMPORTANT

Often, nonprofits fail at marketing because these duties get passed off to a lower-ranking employee as an afterthought. At that point, it’s basically a lost cause. No matter how talented your volunteers or staff are at social media, if they don’t have a clear set of expectations, goals, or approved content to work with, they will fail.

Even if it’s only one, hire or dedicate someone to take care of your marketing needs and create content for social media or marketing materials. The content and strategy can be simple to start, but it should be consistent and timely. Map out a month-to-month strategy and decide on the type of content that should be posted or sent to your supporters. Have your new marketing person/content creator engage with your audience on social media and respond to questions and comments to strengthen supporter relationships. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg or hire an entire team to get started, and it will make a world of difference to your outreach and the number of donations you’re able to collect.

LIMITING BELIEF 4: ANYTHING WILL DO

Organizations can have a solid marketing plan and still fail because their content lacks personality, warmth, purpose, or consistency. Encourage positive and genuine involvement from your followers by getting a little personal in your marketing. Nonprofits thrive on human connection, interaction, and emotional exchanges. Share things that inspire you, your supporters, or employees. Talk about the emotional aspects and rewards of the work you do. Present your nonprofit like an individual, with a personality and experiences that evoke empathy, compassion, and connection. Share real stories and photos of real people. This helps to build trust and creates a sense of oneness within the community that inspires others to unite over a common goal.

While there are some aspects of your nonprofit which may be treated as a business to keep things operating smoothly, your marketing will be more effective if you let people experience the emotional, human side of your organization. Sharing information is important, but don’t just regurgitate facts and figures at your audience. Donors, volunteers, and supporters want to know that their contribution is helping a good cause, so don’t be afraid to show the messy, emotional, personal side of your work and the impact that can make on the world.

For your nonprofit to be effective and successful, you need to prove that it’s operational and essential. There is fierce funding competition in the nonprofit sector, and you need to put your nonprofit out there and prove it’s worth every single day. Even a simple online marketing strategy can help you widen your reach and build rapport with your community. You don’t have to spend a fortune or make it your full-time job to be effective; stay consistent, devote a little time to engagement each day, and connect warmly and genuinely with your supporters and audience.

Download our comprehensive nonprofit brand workbook to help you build an effective, cohesive brand for your organization.

Insquired creates meaningful branding solutions for nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Our creative process and strategic thinking results in high-impact design with purpose, tailored with each client’s target audience in mind. If you’re ready to upgrade your branding and visual identity, please contact us for more information. We’ll customize a solution that embodies your core values and supports your mission.