- Prerequisites before promoting your nonprofit.
- Getting your website up and running.
- Creating your social media.
- Public Relations and Marketing.
Establishing Your Nonprofit
In case you didn’t read it, go back and read our article on How To Start a Nonprofit. You may be tempted prematurely to start marketing and gaining followers and donors for your cause. However, they will most likely be family and friends.
In order to gain true followers and donors for your nonprofit you will need to be established and legitimized. Why? First, it shows those you are aiming to help that you are serious and will be by their side. Second, though there will be those who are willing to donate simply for the cause, many large donors and those offering grants will need you to be incorporated and have 501©3 status.
This will allow donors and those offering grants to receive a tax write-off for their business, which is a major incentive for them to donate and 9/10 will be required to apply for grants. Unless you are doing everything yourself (at that point it would be smarter to volunteer) it is impossible for a nonprofit to function without donors and grants.
Being incorporated, having 501©3 status, and being fully established is the first and primary step you need to take. It is the cornerstone to all other areas of getting your nonprofit off the ground and goes hand in hand with making it successful.
Setting Your Foundation
One of the first things you should be building once your nonprofit is established is a website. A website not only shows the legitimacy of your nonprofit, it serves a variety of purposes. It is a way to spread information about what you are doing for your community and goal. You are able to discuss what your mission is, how you are completing that mission (through a blog or other formats), and can even serve marketing purposes (SEO, lead generation, etc.).
Websites also help you gather information about those you serve. With tools such as Google Analytics (or the tools of the site you are hosting yours on) it has become easier to know where your clients are coming from, where they are located, what services are most popular (which helps you allocate time, effort and resources), age and more! This information is vital because it will allow you to structure your programs accordingly and how to design them, even to the type of individuals you may hire.
All this information can come from a website (crazy, we know). It is important that your site looks professional, represents what you do, and is updated consistently. You don’t want to have a program running that is only of through word of mouth and those checking your site have no clue. Remember, a website for a nonprofit it powerful, just because you aren’t selling something does not mean it serves no purpose!
Creating Your Social Media
Social media is a necessary tool in todays world for a variety of reasons. It allows you to reach the masses with important information and press releases, it shows your followers that you are alive and well, receive feedback, as well as marketing purposes.
There are a variety of social media’s out there each with their own purpose:
- Facebook: Used to convey news, information, as well as advertising.
- Instagram: Draws engagement through images.
- Twitter: Used to convey short snippets of information (character count).
- LinkedIn: Professional use, motivational, making connections, press, etc.
When starting out, you may have few likes and followers, but remember, like any business it will grow slowly and surely. If you feel like it isn’t going as fast as you want that is okay, continue to post daily, continue your initiatives and campaigns and you will see them grow and reach their full capability.
Public Relations and Marketing
PR and marketing is not just for for-profit businesses. As a nonprofit, PR will be a powerful tool and you will need to use it as much as you can. Nonprofits are all about helping people and the media will eat that up. Though you may not be a for-profit business, you should still have a strategic mind. The following are just a few ways to obtain media and do PR:
- What are hot topics that correlate to your mission and nonprofit?
- What events or campaigns are you doing that are news worthy?
- Success and turnaround stories.
As for marketing there are a variety of routes your can go. You can use social media and advertise your services there (we will dive deeper on that another time), work with local businesses to promote your nonprofit and services through flyers and posters, or partnering with other businesses through a mutually beneficial initiative (also good for PR).
There truly are so many ways to market your nonprofit and its services. The best way to prepare, is sit down, figures out which angles best fit you, and create a campaign. Remember, some marketing campaigns won’t always be successful and give you the results you want. You will need to experiment and find what works and capitalize. As mentioned earlier, don’t expect to blow up over night, have patience, and keep moving forward and the success will come.
Coming Full Circle
It can seem intimidating getting your nonprofit off the ground. You just went through everything to get it incorporated and receive your 501©3 status, there should be lines of support right? Don’t be discouraged, you created your nonprofit to help others, communities, or whatever your goal is! Even helping one individual or having one successful client is worth it. One turns into two and two turns into four. Next thing you know, you will be holding galas for fundraisers and show the success you have been having!