Non-Profits: The Basics to Successful Marketing

Three key components are required to run a non-profit effectively: donations, volunteers, and advocacy. Without these, a nonprofit organization ceases to exist.  As crucial as those components are, getting adequate financial and physical support can be difficult.

This is where basic marketing comes into play. Below is a summarized list of must-haves for successfully marketing a non-profit:

Branding – it isn’t just for big companies

Branding is the marketing foundation of every organization. It is particularly important for non-profits¾what your story is and how you tell it will set you apart and show why YOU matter.

Branding is much more than your logo or name. It is the experience and perception your audience has with you online, in-person, and on paper. This means that everything from your service, your interaction with donors, your online presence, and printed materials should all tell your story consistently.

So where should you start? I recommend beginning by developing your mission statement; make it concise, specific, and compelling. Build your brand from this statement. Show your impact in the community.

Here are a few steps to get you started on branding.

  1. Develop your mission and vision statement.
  2. Clearly define your values and objectives.
  3. Describe your organization’s personality.
  4. Define your audience(s): donors, volunteers, advocates and leaders.
  5. Create brand standards documents so everyone in your organization understands how to use the brand consistently.

Click here to download the business branding workbook

Community support

Gaining the support of the community is crucial to non-profits. Strong community alignment allows a non-profit to have sustainable impact. To create this bond, be active within your community and support organizations with similar mission statements. This will demonstrate the quality of your non-profit and your dedication to the cause, as well as give you a better understanding of your community’s wants and needs.

Be active online

When someone first hears about your organization, they will likely go online to learn more about you. If your organization does not appear to have an active, trusted online presence, they will be hesitant to support you or quickly grow uninterested. Here are the best ways to grow your online presence:

  1. Create a good website that is viewable on all devices (desktop and mobile). It is the foundation for your online presence; it must have adequate information about your organization and how to support you. Be sure that the design and content of your website are consistent with your brand.
  2. Utilize social media. Choose two to three social media platforms that work well with your brand and audience. Keep them updated regularly with happenings in your organization, share stories about the impact in your community, and engage with your audience regularly. Verify your website with the social media accounts to increase visitor traffic and rank high in Google searches.

A good format to follow is a one-sentence headline, followed by a two- to three-sentence paragraph explaining what you offer, to whom, and why it’s useful.  Additionally, you can list key features or benefits, and add photos of your product or a hero shot.

Create partnerships

Non-profits benefit greatly by creating strong partnerships. Here are a few types of partnerships to consider:

  • Other Non-profits: Partner with other non-profit organizations or agencies with a similar mission. The benefits of this include stronger programs, shared community impact, improved efficiency, and cost saving
  • Corporations: Partnering with the right corporations will allow for larger donations, sponsorships, and a bigger platform to share your story, as well as greater community influence.
  • Celebrities: Partnering with a celebrity will allow an organization and its mission to reach a larger audience that would normally not be possible.

Hold fundraising or volunteer events

Events are such an important part of marketing non-profits. Everything from an annual fundraising gala, a walk for a cause, or special volunteer days can open your non-profit to new donors, supporters and partners, as well as keep you top-of-mind with your existing audience. Click here for tips to promote your charitable event

Marketing your non-profit continuously is crucial to receiving ongoing donations and support. I hope the suggestions in this post are helpful to your non-profit. If you have any questions, you can reach me directly at