Beyond Crisis: Marketing for Charities (Part 3 of 3)

With Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, western wildfires, and other natural disasters fresh in our memory, we at Breck are thinking about those affected, and inspired by the many organizations and volunteers who have stepped up to help. We are also thinking about the roles that marketing and communications play in emergencies and for nonprofits and charities as they solicit donations and volunteers. In the third of our three-part series, we’ll discuss marketing and nonprofits.

Many nonprofits and charities have answered the calls for help that emerged from the many recent hurricanes. As they have for other disasters in the past, these organizations can meet needs that governments often can’t. We’ve written about effective crisis, and the critical importance of credibility during emergencies. Now let’s take a look at how can marketing help charities reach much-needed potential donors and volunteers both during emergencies and beforehand so they can be poised to act quickly when disaster strikes.

Marketing, Fundraising, Development

You may not realize it, but these go hand in hand. Development is about building and developing long-term, sustaining relationships with donors and potential donors. Fundraising is specific, short-term, and may be about events, product sales or other efforts to get donations. And marketing, well, it’s a critical tool leveraged to meet goals and achieve missions, to make introductions and keep up a group’s reputation. It’s not just about selling.

  • Marketing supports development. If development is about long-term relationships, marketing can make the first introduction with a well-placed social media post or online ad.
  • Marketing supports fundraising. Marketing spreads the news about product sales and events that bring in funds and awareness. Girl Scout Cookies and the Komen Race for the Cure are famous examples.
  • Marketing spreads your message to receptive ears. It can build awareness about a group’s mission and values.
  • Marketing builds your brand and credibility. Branding doesn’t just mean logos and colors; it means consistent identity and credibility—and credibility is critically important when it comes to messaging, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.
  • Marketing efforts recruit volunteers. As with development, marketing helps make the vital introduction and points potential volunteers to the front door.

Planning for the Unexpected

A better understanding of marketing and nonprofits helps when thinking about emergency response. Marketing supports emergency response efforts. Marketing identifies groups you want to target; helps you choose the best channels to reach them; and crafts consistent messaging that will resonate. Marketing will also have laid the groundwork that makes audiences receptive to your message by preserving the credibility and branding that makes an organization trustworthy.

In short, marketing makes it possible for groups to be ready for emergencies. A marketing plan for emergencies can include:

  • Roles and responsibilities. Designating who’s in charge of emails, social media, and other elements is critical.
  • Content templates. It’s smart to prepare language ahead of time for worst-case scenarios that you can quickly put in place.
  • SEO strategies. Can your group be found quickly when donors are searching for your cause or the areas you serve?
  • Messaging with impact. What makes your organization the right one to receive and manage donations? Why should donors choose you? Why should volunteers help? What services do you provide, and how will you use the donations? Specificity is important in emergencies. Be prepared to share your story.

Marketing has an enormous role for nonprofits. In emergencies, a marketing and communications plan can make all the difference. Professional communicators can help you refine messaging and develop plans to ensure you’re prepared when crisis breaks.

While we’re thinking about charities that make a difference, consider donating today to Team Rubicon!