If you’re like many nonprofits, summer is a time to recuperate from a busy spring and brace yourself for a chaotic giving season. While you have a little room to breathe in your workload, why not put some strategies in place that will make your nonprofit’s marketing more organized, easier to manage and more effective? A little planning can go a long way.
Of course, this schedule doesn’t apply to all nonprofits. (You might be thinking, “But my nonprofit runs a summer camp, we’re busiest during the summer!”) So if summer doesn’t provide you and your team with much capacity, feel free to bookmark this post and come back to us once you have a little wiggle room in your schedule.
For the rest of you, we pulled together some goals to set for yourself this summer that will make life easier and your communications hit closer to home for supporters during the chaotic months that follow. These seven tasks vary in the level of effort it takes to get them in place, but all will have an impact on the results that your marketing can accomplish.
Create a Marketing Strategy
Having a plan for your marketing makes long-term goals and strategy possible, but so few nonprofits actually take the time to do it. Instead of scrambling as big annual events, giving days and year-end fundraising draw near, why not work it into your strategy. The more time you’re able to spend on your campaigns and promotions, the better they will be.
And your first strategy doesn’t need to be so in-depth that it creates a roadmap for every marketing channel you use and every event or report you’d like to promote (although that would be great if you’re pushing full steam ahead). It could be as simple as one page that outlines:
- Organizational goals
- Marketing projects that will help achieve them
- Measurement (how you’ll know if you achieved them)
You can always add to it as your goals change or you learn what’s successful and what isn’t. And I’ll give you bonus points for creating target audience personas to get more strategic about who you’re talking to and their specific goals and challenges.
Organize Your Email List
If you’re still sending every email to every supporter on your list, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, segment a big master list by breaking it up into different groups that represent your audiences. Segmentation allows for more targeted communications.
To start, sort your master list into groups that correspond with target audiences. Those groups could be volunteers, donors, new email subscribers, program participants or whatever makes the most sense for your organization. Imagine—you’ll be able to send appeals for volunteers to your group of volunteers and an email on the impact that a recent fundraising campaign achieved to your group of donors.
You can then use those segments to build better relationships with supporters when they feel the warm fuzzies of believing that email is just for them. For example, you might set up email automations for new subscribers or build stronger relationships with volunteers. As you get more comfortable, you can get more granular. The sky’s the limit.
If you use MailChimp, we’d recommend creating one master list and organizing it into groups. This prevents costly duplicate entries, helps automation run smoothly and makes data more accurate.
Measure Progress Toward Goals
Your nonprofit has goals that you’re actively working toward, but how do you know if what you’re doing is effective if you’re not looking at the data? Summer is the perfect time to do a six-month review of your online marketing. And it’s completely within your power to pull key points of data from your website in order to make more strategic online marketing decisions. If your website is properly integrated with Google Analytics (if you’re using a Wired Impact platform site, you’re all set), there’s an abundance of data waiting for you.
To get started, create dashboards within Google Analytics that easily display and connect the data that you care about the most. Through these dashboards, you can get insights on who visited your website, where they came from, which pages they visited and the actions they took. And you can then use that information to inform new strategies that drive more visitors to complete more desired actions on your site.
Create an Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars outline your nonprofit’s communications based on topic, author, timing and any other helpful variables that can determine how the content is produced and shared. When it comes to your nonprofit blog, a strategic document like this serves as a brainstormed list of potential upcoming topics that are related to your mission, supporters, activities and impact, plus where those topics are in your content creation process.
Create a simple and flexible document that details key information about the content but is also easy for your team to use and share. Learn more about creating an editorial calendar and download an easy-to-manage template to get started mapping out the rest of the year.
Real-life stories make for effective fundraising. But there are lots of uses for stories in your nonprofit website content and, really, all of your communications. Stories convey impact better than any other method, with a face and the emotional connection that carries.
While you have some free time, think about building up your story bank so that you can easily pull from it for different appeals, impact reports, blog posts, website content and other communications throughout the year.
To start, come up with a process for collecting stories that considers your different audiences and all that your nonprofit accomplishes. This could be as simple as letting your staff know that you need testimonials and designating a point person for them to send those stories to. You can then start gathering a variety of different types of stories.
You might have stories from:
- People that you’re helping
- Program participants
- Event attendees
- Staff members
- Board members
Start a Social Media Ambassador Program
Like any area of nonprofit marketing, social media takes a lot of time and effort to be most effective. But what if you could provide supporters with the tools to take on some of the heavy lifting when it comes to spreading the word via social media? A social media ambassador program gets supporters involved with your nonprofit by agreeing to donate their voice.
You’ll need to create some initial content and make sure you’re available to provide any ongoing guidance as they share your mission and their personal connection to your cause.
- If you don’t have an ambassador program, see how to add one to your social media strategy.
- If you already have social media ambassadors, check out ways to improve and strengthen your program.
Refresh Your Website Content
When was the last time you reviewed the content on your site? Can you be sure it’s even still accurate, much less moving visitors through your site toward the actions that you’d like them to complete? If you’re seeing stagnant goal completions on your website (donations, volunteer sign-ups, new members, email subscribers, etc.), old or ineffective content could be to blame.
Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content
Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part of content creation. Check out this free beginner’s guide to learn things like why great content matters, how to plan and format your content, and how to create content that your supporters will actually read.
Essential Web Page Content for Nonprofits
To make improvements to key pages on your website, our web page content guide provides approaches, tips and content ideas for pages like About Us, Impact, Get Involved and Donate based on best practices that we’ve seen work wonders for lots of different nonprofits.
Take on one of these goals, all of them, or a few of them! These are some great options that have been shown to make a real impact for the effectiveness of nonprofit marketing, but in the end, you know a lot more about what’s going to make your life easier and have a larger impact on your nonprofit than we do. You could also tackle other projects that have been sitting on the backburner this summer.
Does your nonprofit think ahead in the summer? What projects are you working toward this summer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.