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4 steps to guide your non-profit marketing in 2021

4 Steps To Guide Your Non-Profit Marketing In 2021

by Ashley Miller

As we begin the new year, it's no surprise that many non-profits are making moves to adjust their marketing plans to address rising needs as result of the pandemic. Perhaps you haven't gotten that far yet, and you've been solely focused on your mission at-hand: serving clients. Or, maybe you're ahead of the game and have already made plans for 2021. Either way, now is the time to step back and take a fresh look at how your efforts drove results in the past and examine the changes you may need to make as you move forward. Instead of charging right into marketing tactics, begin by diving deeper into the 4 R's to uncover your direction for 2021:

Reflection—As much as we might not want to relive 2020, it's important to reflect on the year: your successes, and not-so-much successes, how your team banded together (and stayed sane), and the ways in which you quickly readjusted your plans to serve your clients in the safest way possible without compromising service. Many non-profit organizations are dependent on volunteers and engaged board members to drive service and fundraising. Along with your staff, these are your heroes. Take time to reflect on the stories of these heroes, and examine how you can share their efforts with your supporters. Beginning your process by reflecting on the good, bad, and the ugly will help point you in the right direction for the year ahead.

Real—Be real. Authenticity matters. If you're sugarcoating what is happening at your agency, you're not being real. Now, more than ever, your donors and volunteers are looking for a way to help. Although many of us are hurting, constituents are out there who will still have the capacity to give back and they need to know what's going on. How are your clients being affected by the pandemic? Do you have new needs for funds or help as a result of the pandemic? Have you seen the silver lining through the successes of your programs amidst the difficult times? Tell those stories in a real and relatable manner—this is what nurtures authentic relationships with your supporters.

Relevant—Staying on top of industry news and trends means that you're in the know about the latest developments that affect your clients. Are you serving children who are now learning online? Their needs have changed. Are your clients elderly? Their needs have changed. Do you supply provisions to the food insecure? Their needs have changed. Not only are many non-profits still serving clients through programs that existed prior to the pandemic, but they've made adjustments to those programs, and have added new programs to address these changing needs. On top of those evolving challenges, many non-profits are now faced with large influxes of help requests, driving home the increased need for funding and volunteers. Communicating that your agency is aware of what is available for your clients shows your donors that you have a handle on the population you serve, and equally as important, that you're spending your donor dollars in the most relevant, efficient, and effective way possible.

Reimagine—2021 gives you an opportunity to reimagine the future for your agency. Crisis brings issues to the forefront that may have never been envisioned previously, so look back to your original reflections to guide you. If you had successes that were new to you, use those as jumping off points for creating new marketing goals. Additionally, many non-profits rely on funding derived from in-person events. Utilizing their quick-thinking and creativity, many organizations have already moved their fundraising efforts online. As virtual continues to replace in-person events, your marketing needs will change, and your technology needs may grow. Taking time early in the year to reimagine your fundraising and communication tactics to align with the "new normal" will save you time—and headaches—in the future.

After reviewing your 4 R's, you can begin formulating the marketing plan and tactics that make sense for your organization. Diversifying your modes of communication as we embark on a new year allows you to speak to more than one type of donor or volunteer. After all, these are real people who are willing to help solve real problems. They are your biggest allies, and making it easy for them to give their time and/or talents is a large part of your growth and success.

How will you tell your story in a real and relevant way in 2021?