Common Nonprofit Marketing Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

With the right know-how, your organization can rank higher on search engines, engage more donors online, and strengthen brand awareness to raise more funds throughout the year.

If you’re like most not-for-profit organizations, then you’re probably juggling a LOT at once. So, it is not surprising that your marketing strategy could have some glaring holes. In our experience partnering with local and national nonprofit organizations, we’ve found that many make the same mistakes when it comes to their digital marketing and SEO strategy.

Don’t make the same marketing mistakes that other nonprofits make.

Mistake #1: Failing to pinpoint your mission

Before you can create awesome content and craft a killer digital marketing strategy, you must have a clear and compelling mission statement.

To start, ask this question:

What does your organization stand for?

Be as specific and concise as possible about exactly what your organization does, and try to describe your organization in a single sentence.

The answer to this question will help identify who your organization is in a nutshell. This sort of branding will help you pinpoint important keywords that will help your SEO strategy.

Most importantly, this mission statement must be unique to your organization.

Mistake #2: Misusing social media

One of the most common nonprofit digital marking mistakes we see is in the realm of social media—starting with which ones to use. There are many different social media platforms available to nonprofits and businesses, but not all are a wise use of your limited time and resources.

How can you determine which social media platforms are best for your organization?

As with most things, the answer depends on your unique circumstances based on your mission statement and target audience.

Be selective in what social media platforms you use. Facebook allows customers to share experiences, while Instagram allows your organization to visually tell your story. Twitter allows your business the opportunity to distribute trending news, but you must be very succinct in your posts. YouTube is a great opportunity to craft your story in video form and better engage your audience.

Another mistake we see is that many nonprofits exclusively use social media to promote their organization and raise money. Only engaging with social media to ask for money and donations is a recipe for failure. People don’t want to follow a nonstop commercial. Instead, they want to feel connected to an organization and what your nonprofit stands for.

You mistake the value of social media at your own peril!

Instead, consider dividing up the types of social media posts you share. Evenly post content that promotes your brand, shares insights from experts and thought leaders in your field, and entertains your audience.

Mistake #3: Overlooking the power of video marketing

Video has become increasingly important when it comes to successful nonprofit digital marketing and fundraising strategies for many reasons—one being that video generates 4 times the engagement of any other type of media.

In 2021, video is king—especially with smartphone users.

Best of all, the investment needed to start video marketing might be less than you think. You don’t have to go from 0 to a professionally produced commercial production in 1 step. Simple videos can be created using a quality small camera, or a mini-drone, with a cost of under $500. There are a lot of free video editing platforms available if you want to do it yourself, plus there are online tutors that can help you develop your video skills.

While you may not win an Academy Award with that first video, it’s a start. As your skills improve, you can hone your focus on the story and sharing your message. If there is heart in your video and a compelling message, then many imperfections can be overlooked.

Mistake #4: Neglecting site design, security and UX

Creating a website that is user-friendly should be a top priority. You may have a lot of information to share, but you must make it manageable for all viewers.

How your site looks tells a potential donor a lot about an organization. A clean, modern site shows that you are meticulous with how you run your business, whereas a cluttered and outdated site design tells them that you may not be taking your business so seriously.

Our advice?

Make sure there is a lot of white space and good photography. Make it easy for donors to check out your About page and blog posts to learn more about your organization, as well as where they can donate. And don’t forget to include an FAQ page to answer commonly asked questions. Also, include a way for donors to contact you.

Your site should also be secure. A potential donor should have no qualms using their credit card to donate on your site.

You can start by making sure your site is upgraded to HTTPS. Once upgraded, there will be a lock on the browser screen indicating that it is secure. The old HTTP site always comes with a warning that the site may not be secure.

It’s also worth noting that Google ranks sites partly based on their security. Sites that have been upgraded typically get a higher ranking.

Lastly, don’t forget to upgrade your site to responsive mobile design. Web users are increasingly accessing websites via smartphones and tablets, which means it’s vital that your website properly adjusts to the platforms and devices they use.

Mistake #5: Managing your Donors with Spreadsheets

We love a good spreadsheet as much as anyone else.  But using a spreadsheet to manage your donors limits your ability to market your nonprofit.  Spreadsheets prevent you from capitalizing on the multitude of information that comes with each donation — and hinders future fundraising efforts.

Our advice?

A donor management system such as Auxilia can raise your fundraising game and elevate your nonprofit, ensuring you are marketing to the right people at the right time.  The tool enables you to analyze donor behavior and giving patterns, coordinate social media posts, connect donors to their networks, strategize and develop campaigns, and plan, execute and analyze both virtual and in-person events.

Need some help avoiding these mistakes and optimizing your nonprofit marketing strategy? Brown Bag Marketing has solutions and services that can help. We work with you to build high-performing websites, craft engaging digital ads, and optimize your digital strategies to get more donations.