We can’t stress it enough: Visual Creatives Inc. LOVES nonprofits. We love working with them. Helping them tell their stories. Reading about them. Supporting them. Volunteering with them. We should probably make up T-shirts and mousepads expressing our undying affection for our nonprofit friends and clients… Or maybe we’ll just devote another blog post to marketing strategies for nonprofits, since not many people still use computer mouses (mice?) any more.
So today we’re going to focus on the nonprofit organization and cause marketing: how nonprofits can attract valuable and profitable partnerships with corporate sponsors.
You are probably aware of the growing trend of large for-profit companies partnering with nonprofit charities for cause marketing campaigns. You’ve seen it everywhere from the checkout lane at the grocery store (“Would you like to donate a dollar to the ____ charity today?”) to your cell phone (“Text 12345 to donate to the ____ charity for crisis relief”). American consumers have become more socially conscious. They love knowing that part of the money they are spending on goods and services supports a good cause; many are willing to go out of their way and spend more to solicit businesses who consistently give back to society. For many large companies, cause marketing campaigns have become a popular and convenient way to satisfy their customers’ demands for greater social responsibility.
Cause marketing relationships are obviously beneficial for both parties involved, but they can be an especially powerful resource for nonprofit organizations. Aside from increased revenue, nonprofits involved in these partnerships also enjoy greater visibility and instant access to a much wider pool of volunteers and resources. According to nonprofit marketing trends for 2015, cause marketing campaigns aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, so now is the time for savvy nonprofits to jump into the ring and start courting corporate collaboration.
Appeal to Corporate Partners
If you run a nonprofit, ere are three dynamic steps your charity can implement right now in order to boost your appeal to potential corporate partners:
- Embrace inbound marketing. Implementing inbound marketing for nonprofits is arguably the most critical step you can take to modernize and attract large-scale corporate attention. Producing and sharing quality content through social media will expand a nonprofit’s online presence and improve search engine visibility, making your website more likely to be found by corporate marketers. Nonprofits that have invested the time and effort to build up a strong online following through inbound marketing are more likely to attract a corporate business partner because you bring major promotional power to the partnership. Nonprofits who have embraced inbound marketing appear more savvy, adaptable, and forward-thinking than those charities who are still using traditional (think: lots of direct mail!) marketing methods.
- Utilize content marketing to tell a good story. Good storytelling, for the nonprofit, should be the the overarching, ultimate goal of all marketing strategies. Inspiring stories will be shared, because people love to share content that inspires them! How can a nonprofit tell a good story? That’s a question that warrants its own separate blog post… but, in short, you have a wealth of compelling personal stories from the people who support and benefit from your work. Sharing those stories through blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. is a great way for a nonprofit to start telling your story! Great storytelling will connect with constituents on a meaningful level, and this powerful connection fosters long-lasting relationships and dedicated supporters.
- Find brand evangelists and mobilize them. Your nonprofits should take notice of the volunteers, board members, supporters, and social media followers who exude the most passion for your cause (we call these individuals “brand evangelists”). Iinvest in this group, and find ways to use their enthusiasm to promote the cause within their personal and professional networks. These brand evangelists may also have existing relationships or connections with potential corporate partners, and they can be a great resource for brainstorming campaign ideas.
Nonprofit organizations face an increasingly challenging task: connecting with an audience of people who are constantly avoiding marketing campaigns. Potential supporters and volunteers are often fast-forwarding commercials, screening phone calls, and trashing any mail that looks like “junk” before they even take a look. Nonprofits need to adapt if they are to thrive. You must learn to meet people where the live (social media, websites, blogs), educate them in a compelling way, and let them decide for themselves how they want to get involved.