Explore this guide to marketing grants for nonprofits.

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Grants for Nonprofits

When it comes to accomplishing your nonprofit mission and making a genuine impact in the world, you need an effective and successful marketing strategy. 

However, getting the funds to drive your nonprofit marketing plan is no easy task. Often, it’s recommended to use around 5-15% of your operating budget primarily for marketing efforts. If more money is needed, some nonprofits will also look to pull from their overhead fund.

If you find that your budget is tighter than usual, your organization’s need has increased tenfold, or if you simply want to expand your outreach efforts, consider exploring the world of marketing grants for nonprofits.

There are tons of different marketing grants available, some specific to a certain cause or sector, while others are geared towards only smaller or larger organizations. If you want to learn more about which grant you should apply for, you’re in the right place. This guide will answer the following: 

Nonprofit marketing grants can provide the right push for your organization to build a solid communication strategy with supporters. But this can’t be done without finding the right grant for your needs and following the necessary steps to apply. Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in. 

Contact us at Getting Attention to talk about marketing grants for nonprofits.

This section will review the basics of marketing grants for nonprofits.

Nonprofit Marketing Grants | The Basics

A nonprofit grant is a fund awarded to an eligible organization that does not need to be repaid. Marketing grants are often rewarded based on nonprofit values, the industry it’s in, and other eligibility requirements. 

Who is awarding these grants? Well, nonprofit grants can come from various sources, typically split up between these categories:

  • Government grants — These are funded by the government or with taxpayer money. Government grants can be given on the federal level, state level, and local level.
  • Foundation grants — These are funded by organizations dedicated to providing money to the nonprofit sector and are often started by individuals.
  • Corporate grants — These are funded by corporate companies, like Google or Walmart, that want to use some of their money to support philanthropic causes.

Nonprofit grants can be further divided by what exactly they are funding. This will depend on the grant awarding institution, as some only will give grants for specific projects and others leave nonprofits to use the funds at their own discretion. In general, grant funds are often directed to:

  • Unrestricted funds — Grant will be used to cover day-to-day operating costs and support the general work of an organization. This is not limited to one purpose.
  • Capital support — Grant will be used to support specific capital campaigns. This might include funding a construction project, renovation, or other large program.
  • Restricted funds — Grant will fund a particular purpose, project, or program. This is the most common type of grant funding.

Here are the different forms of nonprofit grants.

As you’re browsing through the different types of nonprofit grants available, it’s important that you have a comprehensive understanding of the institutions that award them and how exactly the funds should be used. Make sure you are familiar with each distinction to determine the most viable grant for your mission.

Here are the benefits of nonprofit marketing grants.

The Benefits of Nonprofit Marketing Grants

You already know that the right grant can take your nonprofit marketing effort to new heights. But what does that exactly mean? Let’s walk through the following benefits of marketing grants for nonprofits:

  • Carry out charitable initiatives — Ultimately, marketing grants will be used to help carry out your various charitable initiatives. Any marketing or promotion you do for your online giving page, exciting fundraising events, and other initiatives can be taken to the next level with the right marketing grant. Sometimes grants will be awarded for a specific initiative, like to fund a particular program within your nonprofit services.
  • Pay for donor outreach — One of the primary components of nonprofit marketing is your donor outreach efforts. From email newsletters, to direct mail, to sending out canvassers to meet supporters in person, your donor outreach efforts need effective funding to ensure its success.
  • Help more people with your organization — When your marketing strategy is well-developed and targeting the right audience, you not only attract more supporters, but might even catch the eye of those who might need help from your organization. Sometimes people don’t realize that there are organizations out there dedicated to aiding those in their exact situation. Effective marketing ensures that people are aware of your nonprofit and its services. 
  • Educate and spread awareness of your mission — In the end, a marketing grant is there to help you educate and spread awareness about your mission. The more people that are aware of the issues your organization is fighting for, the more likely that you’ll gain valuable support for your cause. Besides just your regular supporters, you might capture the attention of major donors, business sponsors, and more!

The value of grants to nonprofits is immeasurable, especially once you think about the impact that your organization can have on your mission if your marketing plan and fundraising efforts reach and exceed goals. 

Let’s review how to find and apply to marketing grants for nonprofits.

Finding and Applying to Nonprofit Marketing Grants

The next step is to begin thinking about marketing grants that your nonprofit is eligible for and how to begin the application process. 

It’s important to remember that the process for finding and applying to marketing grants will look unique depending on your mission, the project you’re trying to fund, and the grant you choose. 

That’s why before you start looking for the best marketing grant for your nonprofit, make sure you:

  • Know your mission — You already know what your mission is, but it’s important that you’re able to effectively communicate it to anyone, especially if you’re trying to get a grant from them. They need to resonate with your mission as much as you do, as well as entirely understand what your goals are and how a grant will help you reach them.
  • Do the necessary research — Each grant has its own application process and requirements. It’s important that you do the research to check eligibility, make sure you fit the applicant profile, understand any deadlines or other important dates, and more. 

From there, we recommend you start off the search process with grant databases. There are a wide array of resources that you could check, but we recommend these:

  • Grantstation.com — A database to search, review, and apply for nonprofit grants.
  • Grantwatch.com — Another database to find and apply for nonprofit grants.
  • Grants.gov — A website under the Office of Management and Budget to help nonprofits find federal grant-making agencies.
  • Guidestar — An online database that connects nonprofits with grant opportunities (and vice versa). Create a profile for your nonprofit to start applying for grants, while also helping grant-makers discover your cause.

Along with dedicated grant databases, you can also do a simple online search. To narrow down results, look up popular keywords relating to your mission to ensure you find the perfect grant. 

For example, let’s say you run a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing clean water. If you search with keywords like “sustainability” or “environment,” you are more likely to find grants that will support your mission. These keywords can save you time in looking for the perfect grant, ensuring you can work harder on your application and grant proposal!

Here is the typical nonprofit grant application process.]

Nonprofit Grant Application Process

Each application process will be unique to the grant, so make sure you know exactly what you need to be eligible and apply. 

For instance, one popular option is the Google Ad Grant because it is awarded to anyone who is eligible and isn’t limited to the number of funds it has. However, there are still some lengthy steps, as the Google Ad Grant application process requires:

  1. TechSoup.org registration and Validation token
  2. A Google for Nonprofits account
  3. Google Analytics on your website
  4. Current and valid charity 501(c)(3) status
  5. Compliance with Google Grant guidelines
  6. An SSL certificate
  7. A valuable and promotable website

While these individual steps may not seem hard to complete, you can’t forgo any of them if you want to gain the benefits of the Google Ad Grant.

Can the Google Ad Grant help your organization? Read our dedicated article to learn more. 

It’s important to note that the application process above is not a common example. More often than not, grant awarding institutions will require applicants to send in a proposal to advocate for their cause and explain how their organization will use the grant.

A grant proposal is a formal request from a nonprofit to a funder to help them achieve specific results. The best proposals are concise, persuasive, and communicate the mission flawlessly to grant awarders.

To ensure that your application process doesn’t fall short during the grant proposal, here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t be generic — Be extremely specific about what your mission is trying to accomplish and how exactly the grant will help. 
  • Refer to data — To persuade grant awarders that your nonprofit is worth it, pull from past data and fundraising efforts to show that you’ve already made an impact in the past. Or, you can show that with a little more funding (like from a grant) you would have been able to multiply that impact.
  • Be clear and concise — You don’t want to bore the person reading your proposal. Delete any fluff and get right to the point.
  • Reference direct impact — We have already touched on this, but it’s an important point to emphasize. As you explain your mission and how you’ll use the grant money, reference the direct impact that it should make. Plus, if you have data to back this up, grant awarders will be much more likely to invest in your cause. 

During this process, it’s not unlikely that you found more than one grant that appeals to your mission and that you are eligible for. If you’ve applied to more than one grant at a time, make sure that you’re effectively keeping track of all your applications. Create a calendar to remind you of important dates and conditions that each grant may have. 

Explore these top marketing grants for nonprofits.

Top Marketing Grants For Nonprofits To Explore

There are tons of grants that you might be able to explore, so bunkering down to sift through databases might seem a little daunting. If so, you’re in the right place!

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite nonprofit marketing grants— who knows, maybe you’ll find the perfect one for your nonprofit.

Google Ad Grants

Check out Google Ad Grant, a marketing grant for nonprofits.

The Google Ad Grant is a program hosted by Google that gives $10,000 in ad credits to eligible nonprofits each month. This grant is only to be used on Google Ads and to promote the nonprofit’s digital content. If you comply with the program’s rules and guidelines, your organization can continue to receive this $10,000 grant in ad credits each month for as long as you need! 

With the Google Ad Grant program for nonprofits, organizations can:

  • Increase online conversions.
  • Reach out to new donors.
  • Market multiple ad campaigns.
  • Analyze and track performance.

The Google Grant isn’t your traditional grant where there is only a limited amount of money to allocate. In fact, any nonprofit that is eligible and complies with Google guidelines can use this grant! 

Partner with Getting Attention to get started with the Google Grant, a marketing grant for nonprofits.

Google for Nonprofits 

Check out Google for Nonprofits, a marketing opportunity for nonprofits.

Along with the Google Ad Grant, Google has a dedicated account for nonprofits based in the US. While this isn’t exactly a marketing grant, the Google for Nonprofits account does provide access to the Google Ad Grant, as well as other services that can take your nonprofit marketing to the next level.

You’ll be able to use the Google Workspace for Nonprofits, Youtube Nonprofit Program, and Google Earth and Maps. 

Bill & Melinda Gates

Check out the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been committed to fighting inequities for the past 20 years. They work with businesses, the government, and nonprofit organizations to improve equality gaps in the world. In particular, they have tons of grants they award to nonprofits with missions they believe in. 

All you need to do is send in a grant application and then a grant proposal will be drafted to gain a complete and accurate understanding of how to execute the project effectively.

 

3M Foundation

Check out the 3M Foundation,  a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

3M Foundation offers grants for nonprofits to help advancements in the STEM fields, climate change, and other global humanitarian relief efforts. 

However, at this time the 3M Foundation is an invitation-only funder. Along with aligning with 3M’s focus areas and strategies, you’ll need to meet certain criteria and serve a 3M Community. To learn more about how you can become eligible for their grants, visiting their website is recommended. 

The Carnegie Corporation

Check out The Carnegie Corporation, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

The Carnegie Corporation is a grant awarding institution that aims to invest in nonprofits that want to make a meaningful change in the world. 

The majority of the organizations that grants are given to are usually contacted by the Carnegie corporation themselves, and spans from education grants to peace building grants to equality grants.

The Coca-Cola Foundation 

Check out The Coca Cola Foundation, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants since 1984 to support community initiatives around the world.​ In fact, Coca Cola is committed to giving back 1% of its prior year’s operating income annually. In 2020 alone, $139 million was granted from The Coca-Cola Foundation to eligible organizations and missions.

Walmart Foundation

Check out the Walmart foundation, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind to support nonprofit organizations whose missions align with their philanthropic priorities. Their grantees are usually split between the priority areas of opportunity creation, sustainability, community building, and racial equity. 

Ford Foundation 

Check out the Ford foundation, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

The Ford Foundation was founded 85 years ago and awards grants to nonprofits that are dedicated to civic engagement, fighting inequality, and promoting environmental sustainability. They do have a limited number of programs and projects, so it’s recommended to explore all of their grant opportunities to see which ones are available for funding. 

Amazon Web Services 

Check out the Amazon Web Services, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

Amazon Web Services is a grant awarder dedicated to empowering nonprofit organizations to leverage technology to advance their goals. The AWS has two grant programs that nonprofits can apply to, both aiming to help fundraisers move their research and marketing to the cloud so that they can innovate quickly and at a lower cost. 

Bank of America

Check out the Bank of America, a marketing grant awarder for nonprofits.

The Bank of America is a longstanding grant awarder for nonprofits that aims to advance economic mobility and social progress in low- and moderate-income communities all across the country. Their grants are focused on helping missions that serve basic needs like food and housing, workforce development and education, and community development. 

Additional Resources

Marketing grants for nonprofits are invaluable resources and can catapult your mission and fundraising efforts farther than you’ve ever thought possible. And, this journey can all start by finding the right grant for your nonprofit needs. Hopefully, you found some viable options in the list above, or through the grant databases that we recommended.

If you want to continue your research on the best nonprofit grant and how you can expand your marketing, explore the following additional resources:

Not sure which grant is best for you? Remember, the Google Ad Grant can be awarded to anyone who is eligible!

Contact Getting Attention for a free consultation to see if this marketing nonprofit grant is right for you.

Learn more about how to craft a successful nonprofit marketing plan in this guide

Nonprofit Marketing Plan in 8 Steps (+ Free Templates!)

You’ve worked hard to build an organization that makes a difference for your mission and the community you serve. You plan exciting fundraising events and months-long campaigns to engage your donors and inspire support to your cause. However, all this work is less effective without a strategic plan to market it. 

While your nonprofit and mission are extremely important, you won’t be able to make meaningful change and connect with supporters without a strategic marketing plan.

Taking the steps to outline a nonprofit marketing plan is critical if you want to set your organization up for success, serve your audience’s needs, and drive meaningful conversions. Whether you have one overarching plan for the year or create them on a case-by-case basis, creating a comprehensive marketing plan will only make planning successful campaigns in the future easier and more effective. 

Our marketing experts at Getting Attention know the importance of a well-developed nonprofit marketing plan. Whether you’ve never created a dedicated plan before or you simply want a refresher to ensure you’re not missing out on any important points, we created this guide to walk you through the following topics:

Your nonprofit marketing plan can do more than just advise on the best channels and messaging to use. It acts as an all-knowing resource for your entire fundraising team when it comes to representing your mission and pushing you to your goals. Ready to learn more? Let’s start with a simple overview. 

Contact Getting Attention for a free consultation on your marketing plan.


What is a nonprofit marketing plan?

Nonprofit Marketing Plan: What Is It?

A nonprofit marketing plan is a dedicated document to help your fundraising team create promotional materials, stay consistent with branding and goals, and reach a target audience effectively. 

This document should be made available to everyone in the organization so that no matter the campaign or event they are promoting, the messaging and tactics are supporting the core mission. This is the best way to not only reach your supporters and meet new ones, but it also ensures that all team members are on the same page when it comes to how you can accomplish your goals. 

In the end, your marketing plan becomes much more than just guidelines for picking an outreach strategy. Your nonprofit marketing plan should:

  • Provide clarity to your nonprofit team — No matter what, your fundraisers should not lose track of your nonprofit mission and goals. Your nonprofit marketing plan will clearly outline this information so that your team is clear on every detail and the most valuable way to communicate them.
  • Keep tasks and team members organized — A fully fleshed-out fundraising campaign comes with a lot of moving parts, especially when it comes to marketing it. When it comes to sending out email blasts, creating marketing materials, and engaging with donors on social media, it can be overwhelming without a concrete plan on when and how to complete these actions. A nonprofit marketing plan will outline exactly the tasks that need to be done, the steps it will take, and when they should be completed.
  • Focus on reaching donors and increasing awareness — The goal of any marketing strategy is to connect to your audience, bring awareness to your mission, and inspire action from supporters. Your nonprofit marketing plan will walk through the specific motivations of your supporters and prospects, as well as list out the most valuable channels and strategies to appeal to those emotions. 

You won’t be able to accomplish the above without a well-crafted and developed nonprofit marketing plan, however. Keep reading to explore the essential components your own marketing plan needs.

here are the essential components of a nonprofit marketing plan.]

The Essential Components Of Nonprofit Marketing 

When it comes to your nonprofit marketing plan, it’s best to be as thorough as possible. Don’t leave any stone unturned and risk a lack of clarity for team members or gaps in outreach methods.

While your specific marketing plan will be unique to your mission and campaign, there are still several core essential components that you’ll need.

Here are the components you should check for in your nonprofit marketing plan.

Overview of Organization

  • Mission statement  Your mission statement should summarize why your organization exists, the audience you serve, and how you’ll serve them in just a couple of sentences. Mission statements can clarify a sense of direction for your team members and remind supporters of the ultimate purpose of your organization. For example, Water.org’s mission statement is “Water.org empowers families with access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing.”
  • Key stakeholders and nonprofit staff structure — Your stakeholders include both internal and external factors, like board members, paid staff, program directors and volunteers, and association members. It’s important that your entire organization has knowledge of important team members as well as how they all work together. This way, if someone has a question or concern, they know exactly who to go to.
  • Goals — What exactly is your organization hoping to accomplish? For your marketing plan, it can be helpful to outline both long-term and short-term goals, each of them different stepping stones for your core mission. You might outline goals for each month, as well as some for the entire year. When creating goals, it’s recommended to use the SMART method.
  • Priorities — As you outline your goals, rank them in terms of priority. For instance, if your mission is to provide equal gender education opportunities, your priority might be to raise money for needed school supplies over creating scholarship opportunities. Though both goals are valid and important, you can’t expect students to excel in scholarship programs without adequate materials.

Overview of Audience

  • Current audience — What type of people currently support your organization? Look at your nonprofit database and determine if there are any commonalities. List out the type of people and entities that consistently donate and support your organization.
  • Target audience — Who are the people you are trying to reach? For each campaign or event you plan, you should have a specific audience you want to market to. This audience can include new donors, existing donors, lapsed donors, major donors, and more! You can narrow your target audience down with donor segments and donor personas. 

Messaging and Communication Plan

  • Language and tone — Make sure your language and tone make sense with both your mission and who your audience is. For instance, if your organization is focused on education and helping children, you might take on a more user-friendly and casual tone. Consider including some common phrasing or word choice in your plan to make it even easier for your marketing team. 
  • Calls to action — Keeping in mind your nonprofit goals, what are the types of actions you want your target audience to complete? This can range from giving a gift, signing up for newsletters, or another type of actionable support.
  • Branding, color, logo, font — While the aesthetics of your marketing materials might not seem as important as your messaging, it is crucial that your branding and other design factors are consistent. This not only ensures that your marketing efforts remain organized, but that audience members can recognize your organization as soon as they see content, building a deeper connection between supporters and your brand.
  • Tactics and marketing channels — How are you going to exactly use your audience and messaging to promote your mission? Your marketing plan should outline specific tactics (like donor segmented email lists) as well as the most successful marketing channels to use.
  • Marketing calendar — An effective marketing strategy doesn’t happen in just one day. You’ll likely release content and launch campaigns throughout the year, so it makes sense to include a marketing calendar within your dedicated plan.
  • Reporting and analytics method — No marketing plan is effective or complete without a valid way to track its performance. Make sure you have reporting and analytics set up so that you can follow a campaign’s success and learn about the tactics that made it thrive and the factors that can be improved.

It’s easy to look at these components and think you can fill them out at once. However, it actually takes careful planning and data analysis to accurately determine factors like the most valuable goals to target and which marketing channels to use. Keep this in mind as you learn about the basic steps we recommend to creating a nonprofit marketing plan.

Let’s dive into how to create a nonprofit marketing plan.

Follow These 8 Steps to Creating a Nonprofit Marketing Plan

1. Review past performance and conduct a marketing audit

Before you really get into the nitty-gritty of your nonprofit marketing plan, take a moment to reflect on your current standing and past performance. To ensure your marketing plan is as valuable as possible, determining what has and hasn’t worked in the past is your best bet.

Review your previous marketing efforts and ask yourself the following: 

  • Did you achieve your desired goals and objectives? 
  • What was the most successful past of this strategy or campaign? 
  • What didn’t go as expected with the campaign?
  • What could we do differently in the future?
  • Can any marketing materials be reused for future campaigns?

Having a sense of your past efforts and determining the gaps in your strategies will give you a sense of how you can improve your next campaign. 

Along with reviewing past performance, you can even conduct a more in-depth marketing audit. This might include a:

  • SWOT analysis — SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning.
  • Collect your assets, services, products, and resources — When you gather your various marketing assets, you’ll have all the information in one place and will be better able to consider your options.
  • Analyze data — Once you’ve taken the time to gather your data, it’s time to look at it as a whole. Make notes of what you notice as you go.
  • Create an action plan — What’s working? What could be improved? Where are the gaps? Create an action plan based on what you discover in your audit.

In many cases, your internal marketing team can successfully conduct a marketing audit. If this is your first time or you don’t have an established team yet, then consider working with a professional marketing consultant or outside auditor.

2. Establish SMART Goals

Once you have an idea of your past marketing performance, your current resources, and relevant data trends, you can move forward with setting actionable goals.

It’s not enough to set general fundraising goals. Your goals should be carefully chosen and aimed to drive meaningful conversions to your nonprofit organization and support your overall mission. That’s why we recommend using the SMART method to set goals. 

Use this SMART Goal chart to guide your nonprofit marketing.

  • Specific: Your goal should be as specific as possible— focus on one thing and don’t try to accomplish multiple things at once. If it’s a fundraising goal, set a monetary amount, if it’s a conversion goal, determine the rate at which you want to increase actions. 
  • Measurable: Goals are only useful when you can measure their success and progress. Make sure your goal has metrics you can use that allow you to assess your progress towards your goal. This way, if you notice rates dropping, you can adjust your strategies. 
  • Attainable: Don’t set lofty, unrealistic goals. Look at your past fundraising results and aim for a slightly higher objective. For example, if you currently only have 10,000 Instagram followers, it’s much more attainable to set a goal of increasing it to 20,000 than 1 million followers. 
  • Relevant: Your goals should be stepping stones to your ultimate mission. Make sure that every goal you set is helping you get where you want to go. 
  • Time-based: Goals shouldn’t be set and then never checked in on. Make sure you have a deadline for when you’d like to meet your goal. Even if you don’t accomplish it, this information can help you plan future campaigns and strategies. 

Here’s an example of a SMART goal you might set for your nonprofit that aims to increase funding for equal education through their matching gift program:

“By the end of this year, we aim to increase our matching gift program participation from 150 donors to 300 use the funds to create college networking opportunities for at-need students. To track our progress, we will check these numbers and create reports biweekly.

This goal is time-based (end of year), has a specific and attainable target (increasing matching gift participation from 150 to 300), is relevant to your mission (college opportunities to decrease education inequality) and includes reporting methods (biweekly reports).

 

3. Study marketing trends and current news

While internal nonprofit data and past performance can take you miles when it comes to formulating a marketing plan, it’s also a good idea to look at current trends and news items that you can incorporate. 

For instance, there’s a wealth of nonprofit fundraising and marketing trends released each year. You might see that social media has become more popular to connect with donors and then prioritize that in your future marketing. Here are some reliable data sources you might use:

Along with nonprofit trends, you can look at current news events and other important national occurrences. This is known as “newsjacking,” and involves leveraging popular keyword searches from relevant stories and other important occurrences, whether that’s a global pandemic or a national holiday. This not only helps you reach a wider audience but lets your supporters know that you’re current and engaged with what’s happening in the world. 

4. Outline your target audience 

Knowing who your marketing strategy is trying to reach is one of the most valuable ways to improve your efforts and connect with supporters in meaningful ways.

We touched on this earlier, but it’s recommended to outline your target audience by using donor segmentation and donor personas:

  • Donor segments — To better reach your audience, use donor segmentation to group supporters by common traits. These segments allow you to create targeted strategies to better connect to that specific group. You can segment supporters by shared characteristics/traits like whether they’re new donors, current donors, lapsed donors, or potential donors. You can also use traits like age, location, career, etc.
  • Donor persona — This is a semi-fictional person made up of the traits of your chosen audience/donor segment. Donor personas allow you to better understand the motivations of your audience and use those motivations to drive your campaign. These are extremely helpful because they humanize your messaging— it’s much easier to formulate messaging when you imagine one type of person versus a vague general group of people.

To employ donor segmentation and personas into your nonprofit marketing strategy, we recommend:

  1. Segmenting your audience into small, medium, and major donors or first-time donors, repeat, and lapsed donors.
  2. Draw various donor personas under each segment. Your personas should be as specific as possible. You might include a description of their support, how much they’ll usually give or volunteer, their preferred method of communication, personal details like education status or age, and the causes they support.
  3. Start crafting messaging for each donor persona based on the traits you listed out.

Let’s walk through an example. Your nonprofit organization focuses on promoting equal education opportunities around the United States. You decide to segment your audience based on first time, repeat, and lapsed donors. Within lapsed donors, you create a donor persona of a recent college graduate who has given while they were in school, often volunteers with other causes, prefers email communication, and cares deeply about education rights.

As you craft your messaging, keep your donor persona in mind. Perhaps you’ll consider an email campaign that reminds them of their past involvement and mentions how, with their help, they can provide the quintessential college experience they just had to others in need. You might even include volunteer opportunities that they might be interested in, as well as an impact statement of what a future gift could mean. 

5. Craft your messaging

While your nonprofit is doing good in this world, it doesn’t mean you’re the only organization attempting to make a meaningful difference. It’s not enough to have a solid mission and goals, but you need to craft your messaging in a way that stands out from the rest. After all, the average office worker receives about 121 emails daily, with nonprofit emails only having an average open rate of 25.17%. You need your messaging to stand out from the crowd. 

One recommendation is to use the CRAM rule in marketing messaging:

Use CRAM to craft your nonprofit marketing plan message.

  • Connecting — Connect your cause to something your audience cares about.
  • Rewarding — Make the experience rewarding and satisfying.
  • Actionable — Your marketing message must have a good call to action.
  • Memorable — The experience with you must be sentimental or have tangible rewards to make it memorable.

One of the best ways to uphold all the qualities in CRAM is to use effective nonprofit storytelling techniques. In fact, 56% of those who support nonprofits through social media say that it’s compelling storytelling that motivates them to make a donation. Use real stories and photos from the communities that you’ve helped and the impact you’ve had on individuals to really drive the point home. 

6. Allocate budget

When it comes to your nonprofit marketing plans, there are a lot of moving pieces to manage. Creating the materials, maintaining certain accounts, and tracking each data point effectively aren’t actions that come cheap.

You need to make every dollar account, so it’s critical that as you lay out your marketing plan, set your budget carefully. 

As a general rule, it is advised that 5-15% of your operating budget is reserved for marketing. Look at your overall budget for the year, take 5-15% of it, and then start dividing it by marketing strategy and channel. It’s better to undershoot your budget than overestimate it when planning. 

It’s important to be as specific as possible about the expenses of your campaign as well as the expected revenue and result. This will ensure that you are prepared at every step of the road and that you don’t run into any unexpected problems when it comes to budget. Plus, having your budget already allocated out will help get board members and other stakeholders on board. 

7. Choose the best marketing channels

Now comes the exciting part! Remember, before you dive into the marketing channels you’ll want to focus on, it’s important that you first determine your target audience and the budgeting you allow yourself. 

There are tons of marketing channels that you can choose from, and each has its own strengths and challenges. Here are the popular ones:

  • Email —  Email is often the go-to for nonprofit marketers because it allows you to connect with all types of supporters, whether new, repeating, or lapsed. It’s great for sending event invitations, thanking donors for their gift, and even just providing general updates with a regular newsletter. Email is generally an intimate platform to speak with those who know you and trust you on a personal level.
  • Website — Your website is a huge resource when it comes to marketing your mission. It’s likely the first place prospects go to learn about your mission and where long-term supporters go to give support. It not only hosts valuable information on your organization but it also provides engagement opportunities like online giving, event registration, and more. 
  • Blog — Sometimes nonprofits have a blog on their website to drive more traffic and provide meaningful content about your organization. It’s also a great way to provide a community and act as a go-to resource for supporters. Consider blogging about nonprofit industry trends, mission updates, and recent events or campaigns. 
  • Facebook — Facebook has many amazing features that can help nonprofits market their mission and connect with donors. You can utilize its events features, its page capabilities, and even encourage supporters to reshare your content. Facebook is also great for showcasing impact, expanding reach, and engaging in conversation among different supporters.
  • Twitter — Twitter is known for its real-time short text updates and retweetability. It’s the perfect place to share updates on an issue or announce the exciting news.  
  • Google Ad Grant — The Google Ad Grants program helps nonprofits take their marketing to the next level with $10,000 each month in free Google ad space. All eligible nonprofits can receive this grant if they simply apply. Learn more about how the Google Grant can help your organization in our dedicated blog post. To get started or help in maintaining your account, it’s recommended to partner with a certified Google Grant agency

Along with the strengths of each marketing channel, it’s also beneficial to look at past marketing campaigns and data to see which outlet has had success in the past. If you see that your Facebook fundraisers have shown great promise in both donation amount and shareability, then it’s a good idea to focus more on this channel.

While pinpointing the best marketing channel for your needs is important, remember that the recommended route of action is to take a multi-channel marketing approach. This allows you to use a variety of channels and strategies to work together towards one ultimate goal. 

Make sure that your multi-channel marketing efforts support each other. For instance, in a direct mail event invitation you might include a QR code to your online registration page and your social media accounts. Increasing as many touch points as possible will only build the bond between donors and your mission, creating the foundation for long-term support. 

Contact Getting Attention to learn how to Google Grant fits into your nonprofit marketing plan.

8. Create a marketing plan calendar

The last step to creating your nonprofit marketing plan is to finally put everything into place. You know who you’re targeting and you have your strategies and messaging all picked out. It’s time to put it all together with a comprehensive and detailed marketing plan calendar. 

This calendar should be a timeline of your marketing plan actions, including:

  • The start and end dates of events or campaigns.
  • The team and leaders involved, including goals for each member.
  • Budget allocations for each event and action.
  • Volunteer and staff training dates (if necessary).
  • Regular meetings with the staff.
  • Content calendar for when the material is released.

Once this is all in place, make sure that your team members are all on the same page. This blueprint will ensure that everyone stays organized and knows their roles and when to perform actions, streamlining the entire marketing process as it plays out. 

Explore our nonprofit marketing plan templates!

Nonprofit Marketing Plan Downloadable Templates!

Planning your nonprofit marketing can be a painstaking process and involves many moving parts. Feel free to download one of these templates (or download them all!) to ensure your planning remains organized and streamlined.  

General Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template 

SMART Goals Template 

Donor Persona Template 

Marketing Plan Budget Template 

Nonprofit Marketing Calendar Template 

Learn how Getting Attention can support your nonprofit marketing plan.

Stand Up and Speak Out – Nonprofits Are Getting Dissed

I want to welcome guest blogger Susie Bowie.  As communications manager at the Community Foundation of Sarasota, she is a passionate and talented  force helping organizations in the region develop their nonprofit marketing finesse. Today, Susie heralds her call to action to us nonprofit marketers…

Recently, I’ve heard a couple of remarks about nonprofits and nonprofit staff that just kill me…

First a local business person shared his view that “most of us drawn to nonprofit leadership roles care about charitable work but generally lack the skills to be leaders in the for-profit world.

Then Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, bluntly stated (his modus operandi) that nonprofits don’t have the power to change the world because they “have no resources” and are “constantly out trying to raise money instead of generating it and being self-sufficient.”

My guess is that if I’ve heard such patronizing criticism from these vocal folks in just the past couple of weeks, that this perspective is fairly widespread.

Why should nonprofit marketers care about such silly comments?

Each time word goes out, in a comment, article or broadcast – about how ineffective or unprofessional our sector is – it costs us financial support. Those messages generate doubts among our supporters, much less those who are still prospects. A heavy onus lies with nonprofit communicators to set it straight, but we can’t do it alone.

So what can and should nonprofit communicators professionals do about it within our sector? Here are three ways we can advocate for the truth:

1) Nurture the business people who do understand the power of nonprofits, support us with sponsorship dollars and provide us with outstanding board leaders.

In Sarasota, FL, local companies like Cavanaugh & Co, Kerkering Barberio, SunTrust and Northern Trust are just a few of the successful for-profits doing their part. As nonprofit communicators, we must thank such boosters profusely and set the stage for keeping the relationships going, highlighting their good work in our nonprofit’s outreach and encouraging our leadership to spread the praise.

It’s simply good public relations. Your personal and business pages on Facebook provide a great forum for shout-outs. Don’t let them slide once a sponsored event or program is over. And let your business partners know what you’re doing—just because you see a good news announcement in your local paper doesn’t mean they’ve seen it.

2) Remember that it’s a constant education process to help those who live outside our sector recognize what important and vital work we do.

We can’t fault the business world for a lack of understanding about charitable work anymore than you can fault yourself for not understanding how to fix the oil spill. Consider yourself not only a marketing ambassador for your organization but one for the sector.

Get wise about the economic impact facts in our charitable sector. Sarasota County nonprofits, for instance, reported over $2.8 billion in assets and over $1.2 billion in revenue in 2008 alone. (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, January 2010) That’s a result of caring but inept people begging for money. Who’s the one to shed light on this? You. That’s right, it’s your job too.

3) If we’re going to be seen as professional, we have to stay ahead of the curve in professionalism and in our knowledge base.

All staff members, but particularly nonprofit leadership and communicators, represent the sector wherever they go – whether on the job or not. As the marketing ambassador for your organization, remind your staff of their personal brand (how they carry themselves, what they say about their work and your organization) and how it influences your nonprofit brand—and vice versa.

It’s not about “casual” versus “formal” in your virtual and geographic communities. It’s about aligning your actions and comments with respect and intelligence.

I think most of us do a great job of this. Our ongoing education can’t stop with awareness of the issues we care about most. Having one leg in that business world—with constant monitoring of the corporate news and trends—is critical. Communicating the intersections between the nonprofit and for-profit worlds is partly our responsibility. We have the skills to actively convey these connections to essential internal and external audiences. Leadership can determine where we go with them.

Nonprofits are taking (and historically have taken) a leading role in relationship building, the hallmark of success for any venture, public or private.  But it’s up to us to communicate our successes and strengths in a clear, consistent way, through all the grains of staff, board and program running through our organizations.

Powerful food for thought. Thank you, Susie.

What are your thoughts on how (and if) nonprofit marketers can best promote an accurate understanding of the strengths and power of the nonprofit sector and its people? Should we respond directly to slams such as Zuckerberg’s or take the high road  -showing rather than saying – our expertise and professionalism.

Please comment here. Thanks.