No longer is your digital presence just important, it is absolutely vital to your communication strategy. It is no longer a should, it is now a must.
Here are some tips and habits to lose to make your nonprofit's communication strategy superb in 2017.
USE IT: Tell your story, tell it different ways, and tell it well.
Marketing of your organization ultimately means telling your story. “According to Cognitive Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga, ‘stories provide cognitive tools that people store for future reference.’” Successful nonprofits captivate their audiences by telling the story of their mission in a captivating and meaningful way. Whether it is through your appeals, newsletters, social media, or videos, capitalize on each outlet as a new way to connect with your audience by telling your story and what makes your organization unique and worthy of a connection. [Source: “5 Marketing Lessons to Take Away from Nonprofit Organizations,” John Rampton, Forbes]
LOSE IT: Thinking your brand is just your logo.
Many equate the word “brand” with the visual representation of your organization: your logo. Realistically, your brand goes much deeper than just your logo and encompasses the whole donor (or potential donor) experience. “The experience isn’t a one-time thing: it’s about consistency, repetition, and pervasiveness. Does your message and the feeling it evokes stay intact when donors move from one step to the next? When there is a disconnect, donors are less likely to take action or complete their gift. Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index shows that donors give higher average gift amounts when the giving experience happens on a branded donation page that matches a nonprofit’s design and message.” [Source: “Why Your Nonprofit Brand is More than a Logo,” Caryn Stein, Network for Good]
USE IT: Understand the meaning of “mission equity” and how it applies to your organization.
Your brand is your mission; the promise you make to those you serve and the philanthropic value are inherent in that promise. Dr. Susan Raymond defines “mission equity” as being able to constantly understand and measure how your constituency and your funders (and the funders you want!) perceive you in terms of that promise. The positioning of your mission, or your brand, in the mind of donors and potential donors defines your relationship. “Today’s donors are the market for every other organization, message, priority, and need in existence. They expect you to constantly understand them as well as Amazon understands them, and their loyalty will be not simply to the cause, but to the organization that builds a brand that speaks to them, who they are, and the good they want to do,” according to Dr. Raymond. [Source: 2016 NCDC Leadership Summit]
LOSE IT: Leaving media relations planning to an afterthought.
While the first priority of nonprofits is always their mission, sharing that mission with others is also vital. Proactively gaining media attention can help draw positive attention to your mission, but media relations is often hurried, if not completely forgotten by many nonprofits. The start of a new year is a great time to plan some strategic media campaigns. Consider a goal of one media campaign per quarter. Start by crafting a media relations calendar around events you already have planned and/or around stories that would be seasonably interesting. Set goals for each campaign and periodically connect with your media contacts throughout the year, culminating in quarterly press releases and media campaigns. [Source: “A 2017 Media Relations Calendar for Resource-Strapped Nonprofits,“ Peter Panepento, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide]
USE IT: Invest in social media.
Pew Research estimated a nearly tenfold jump in social media use between 2005, when they began tracking social media usage, and 2015. Usage continues to grow at an exponential rate. “To complicate this, exposure on social media is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play game where reach extends only as far as your ad spend. This means that your investments in 2016 aren’t just in staff or volunteer time, but in cold, hard cash.” At this point, every nonprofit must be making an investment in social media. Take some time to determine which outlet best matches your current (and potential) donor base, develop a social media policy, and incorporate social media duties into your regular office operations. [Source: “4 Challenges Facing Nonprofit Marketers in 2016 (And How To Beat Them),” Emily Logan, HubSpot]