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Nonprofit Marketing: Understanding and Engaging with Your Audience

Marketing in its simplest form is not any different for nonprofits. The difference from nonprofits and other organizations is their audiences. When it comes to developing a marketing strategy, it’s crucial to keep your audience top of mind because nonprofits have such vastly different groups they engage with regularly. Let’s take a deep dive into understanding your audience, while uncovering effective methods for engagement.

Understanding Your Audience

The nonprofit audience is made up of three different, yet equally important groups:

1) Donors or Volunteers

2) Members or the People You Serve

3) Your community as a whole

Donors, volunteers, members, and your community as a whole, all have key roles to play in supporting and sustaining your organization. Let’s unpack the nonprofit audience by exploring each of the three groups.

1) Donors or Volunteers

Donors and volunteers are the individuals and organizations who provide their time and treasure to support an organization. Sometimes this support is regular, and other times it’s sporadic. Regardless, donors and volunteers help nonprofits move their mission forward.

2) Members or the People You Serve

While donors and volunteers are the primary audience for many nonprofits, you can’t forget the individuals an organization serves — think of youth organizations or food banks. Some nonprofits are structured that members pay to be a part of the organization while other nonprofits provide their services at no cost to the individual.

3) Your community as a whole

Your community as a whole includes anyone and everyone involved with or connected to your nonprofit; the people you work with, the groups you serve, the town you sit in, and the partners you’ve made. Think big picture here.

Engaging with Your Audience

As we’ve established, the nonprofit audience is vast and complex. It is made up of three unique groups, each with their own role to play. Let’s discuss how to best engage with each component of your nonprofit audience.

1) Donors and Volunteers

Marketing strategy for nonprofits presents its own unique challenges. Fundraising, anyone? Donor retention is about ensuring your donors feel as if their support is making a difference. Tell stories about the people, animals, or initiatives you serve and keep them in the loop regarding the flow of funding. How has their contribution made an impact on your mission? Appealing to donors requires a completely different tone and approach than talking to members and the community. It’s about establishing a long-lasting connection and communicating impact. .

In the same fold, we can’t forget volunteers. These individuals are investing their time — something that is can be more important than gifts for some nonprofits. Communicating impact is still key with volunteers and how their gift of time is furthering your mission and helping the individuals your organization serves.

2) Members or the People You Serve

The individuals a nonprofit serves are just as important as donors in your marketing strategy. This could be individuals who pay to be a part of your organization or the individuals who benefit from your services. If your nonprofit has members, it’s crucial to keep these individuals in your marketing strategy. . It’s not so much about communicating high-level impact, but what your life-changing services can do for them. After all, they can be your biggest advocates in the future.

3) Your community as a whole

Nonprofits are created to address a need or challenge in our communities. When it comes to marketing, it’s important to think beyond your organization’s four walls. Use your marketing channels to share how your organization is a resource. Host community engagement events, promote local volunteer opportunities, attend chamber luncheons, and partner with local businesses­. It will draw in new members, volunteers, donors, and supporters that will help the organization grow and further its impact.

If your nonprofit is struggling to build a cohesive marketing strategy for your audiences, we can help! Schedule a discovery call.


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We've all been there. You're a nonprofit exec and know something has to change with your marketing. It's stale, it's tired and what's that new thing everyone is doing now on Instagram.
Sound familiar? 


You have a million other things to think about before you can even
begin to worry about marketing.
That's where we come in. 


If you're ready to grow your marketing, we'd love to meet you! 

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