Ready to streamline your marketing strategy and reclaim control of your time?
Finding time to outline a nonprofit marketing plan can be tricky. Your team juggles a lot as busy nonprofit employees, carving out time for programming, operations, and fundraising. So it’s no wonder that your marketing goals often find their way to the bottom of your to-do list.
In fact, according to the 2022 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report, roughly one-third of all nonprofit organizations have a marketing team of one person. Within the same report, just 8% of all survey participants employ four to five marketers—enough for a small communications department.
Translation: Many organizations lack the personnel, budget, and resources necessary to implement a nonprofit marketing plan.
A lack of planning, in turn, can lead to overwhelm for team members and ultimately prevent you from hitting your marketing and fundraising goals.
Hi, I’m Cody, the Executive Director behind Marketing Mission. I’ve helped dozens of nonprofit organizations organize and streamline their marketing efforts. Together, we’ve helped maximize impact, grow target audiences, increase event attendance, and raise a collective $8,000,000 through offline and online donations.
Below, I offer an overview of the exact nonprofit marketing plan template I use to help organizations amplify their message and reach more potential donors.
What is a nonprofit marketing plan, and why is it important?
In short, nonprofit marketing plans are important because it helps you regain control of your time.
When I begin working with a nonprofit organization—whether we’re working on a marketing, recruiting, or fundraising campaign—our first step is often to develop a plan.
Without a clear strategy in place, you risk wasting precious time and resources. But with the right approach, you can set your marketing budget, goals, and messaging, then slowly piece together a campaign.
Before I walk you through the step-by-step process I use to implement a campaign, let’s first review what a marketing campaign is.
A marketing campaign is an organized, strategized effort to promote a set goal.
Campaign goals vary heavily from organization to organization but could include:
- Increasing attendees for an upcoming event
- Creating a pool of potential donors through promoting email newsletter sign-ups
- Raising a specific dollar amount through online fundraising initiatives
Whatever your goal may be, you need to leverage a variety of marketing channels to reach new stakeholders. Therefore, you’ll need to amplify a strong, united message across email, social media, paid advertising, and other digital marketing channels (more on this below).
6 steps to implementing a well-rounded nonprofit marketing plan
Now that you understand why a nonprofit marketing strategy matters, let’s put it into practice. Below, I outline the eight-step process I use to implement an effective marketing plan:
1. Identify the type of nonprofit marketing campaign you want to pursue 💪
There are numerous types of marketing campaigns, all serving their own unique purpose. For example, depending on your goals, you might choose to implement a campaign to promote an event or gala, raise funds on Giving Tuesday, or hit your year-end goal. You can also launch a campaign focused on donor acquisition, volunteer recruitment, or impacting public policy.
Whatever your goal, chances are your campaign will leverage multiple marketing channels, such as:
- Email marketing
- Social media posts
- Paid advertising
- Content marketing and SEO
2. Get clear with your campaign goals 📌
Setting a clear objective ensures your marketing campaign ties back to your larger organizational goals. Remember to set SMART goals (i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), such as, “The goal of our campaign is to achieve 100 sign-ups for our 5k charity run/walk by March 31st.”
In addition, they will likely fall under one of three categories:
- Awareness: During the awareness stage, you are simply hoping more potential donors discover your organization (this is particularly helpful for startup nonprofits). For example, you might set a goal to increase subscribers to your email list by 200% in one year.
- Consideration: During the consideration stage, a supporter will take an interest in your organization’s mission. Your goal might be to have 30 new donors attend your next charity golf tournament.
- Conversion: Lastly, a donor will decide to support your organization through a monetary donation. For example, you may set a goal to raise $5,000 to purchase new uniforms for your school soccer team.
3. Identify your topic and call-to-action 📣
Now that you identified your campaign purpose, you can zero in on your topic and call to action (CTA). Note: Throughout this step, it’s essential to be as specific as possible, as too many topics or CTAs can dilute your message and confuse supporters.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep a unified message: Your topic should stay consistent throughout all marketing materials, including your social media marketing, homepage, and visuals or graphics.
- Think of your elevator pitch: Your CTA is a one to two-sentence summary of your campaign—think of it as your elevator pitch or the first paragraph of a press release.
- Use a CTA as a headline: Within your donation page on Givebutter, make your CTA the campaign’s title. Example: “Donate today to protect the water you love.”
4. Determine your target persona 👯
As a nonprofit leader, you would love if every person populating planet earth championed your cause—but the chances of that happening are slim-to-none. So instead, you need to develop a target marketing persona for this campaign. Tailoring your marketing message toward a specific niche will inspire those individuals to take action.
As you determine your ideal audience, consider the following:
- Look at your current donors: Look through your Track CRM system and make a list of common traits between your current donors. Consider demographic data and interests, such as job titles and income level, age, gender, geographic location, hobbies, supported causes, and even the podcasts they listen to.
- Develop a target marketing persona: Think about expanding and pivoting your audience—who would you want to target? Create (and write down!) a list of your ideal donors and their specific traits.
5. Choose your marketing channels 💻
Which channels are best suited for your marketing campaign? While it’s not uncommon for a campaign to run across multiple mediums, your choice(s) will ultimately depend on your audience, budget, and brand engagement. For example:
- Marketing budget: If you’re operating on a $0 budget, you might want to leverage your social media platforms and an email campaign using Givebutter’s free marketing automation solution, Engage.
- Audience preferences: Where do your donors “hang out” online? Email or direct mail might be a good option if you’re working with an older demographic. And if you’re targeting Gen Z donors, you might want to create mini videos to display on Instagram Reels or TikTok videos.
6. Outline your marketing activities in a campaign calendar 📆
Now that you understand your campaign’s who, what, where, and how, you need to focus on the when. When will various aspects of your campaign go live?
You need to ensure your audience has ample time to learn about your event or campaign and make a donation. I recommend posting about your campaign weekly across social media and email (or whichever channels you choose). Here is a sample calendar for a fundraising event:
- Week 1: Save the date with a calendar invite + Facebook event promotion
- Week 2: Registration announcement
- Week 3-4: Registration Reminder
- Week 5: Problem and solution — Explain your mission
- Week 6: Promote event program highlights
- Week 7 A: 1-week registration reminder
- Week 7 B: 24-hour countdown
- Week 7 C: Attendees only: day of email with instructions on how to watch and donate
- Week 8: Thank you and dollars raised
Plan your next Givebutter nonprofit marketing campaign in 15 minutes
Before launching your next nonprofit marketing campaign, dedicate 15 minutes to outline your strategy intentionally.
Next, get clear on your goals, messaging, target audience, and channels for the campaign. And finally, put together a tentative calendar to put your plan into practice.
Fortunately, you can use Givebutter’s all-in-one fundraising platform to implement your campaign. Givebutter is the modern, always-free, donor-centric platform with 130+ fundraising tools, marketing automation, and CRM capabilities, allowing you to execute a well-rounded campaign.
Ready to see how Givebutter can help launch your next campaign? Take a tour to get started.
About Marketing Mission
We get it. Keeping up with the latest marketing trends and strategies can be hard, especially when you're reaching your max capacity already. Marketing Mission helps nonprofits organize and streamline their marketing so they can maximize impact and funding.
The Nonprofit Marketing Toolkit is our 2-day planning sprint where we'll clarify your message and create the content you need for your campaign. We'll create a streamlined, easy-to-implement, and repeatable nonprofit marketing plan for your organization that runs just as smoothly now as it will six years from now.
Watch our campaign strategy webinar to learn how to simplify your marketing so you can reclaim control of your time. Save your spot and get instant access.
Cody Hays helps organizations grow their impact through creative, data-driven digital marketing.