How Not for Profit’s are Successfully Transitioning to a Digital World – our top tips from a recent hybrid (live + online) presentation

How Not for Profit’s are Successfully Transitioning to a Digital World – our top tips from a recent hybrid (live + online) presentation

Recently we held an event called ‘How Not for Profit’s are Successfully Transitioning to a Digital World’ where we had over 70 Not for Profit organisations around Australia register to attend in person or online. Missed the session? Here’s some of the nonprofit market examples and key points we shared…

How big is the Not for Profit (NFP) space these days?

As of August 2020 there are 1.3 million Australians employed in the NFP sector, making it the nation’s second largest workforce, comparable to retail and bigger than construction or professional services.  

Today there are 56,000 charities in Australia, and according to a report by the ACNC and the number of charities in Australia is growing by 4% per year. Two-thirds of Australia’s registered charities are small organisations with an annual revenue of less than $250,000 and operations in only one state.  And, across the sector, the impact of COVID-19 has been profound with talent shortages, less donor funding, vaccine mandates for staff, increased compliance, and many charities duplicating efforts and competing for the same profile, donations and funding. With all this in the mix, now more than ever, not for profits are needing to transition to the digital world and fast! 

So What Are Some Examples of How Most NonProfits Tackle Marketing currently?

We see a few different approaches here but most NFPs we work with/speak to tend to fall into one of the following categories:

1/ The “bury the head in the sand” approach – In this approach, the NFP essentially hope like hell the push for digital transformation will all go away & keep doing what they’ve always done…

2/ Go out and start a new organisation without much thought given to how they will market – As the stats above show, many new NFPs are popping up, with ⅔ of Australia’s registered charities having an annual revenue of less than $250,000 and operations in only one state. Whilst it is easy to start a new NFP organisation, many will not survive as they struggle to create a workable business model

3/ Undergo some training then do inhouse – This is a common approach with many NFPs we work with, and many of engage in the wide range of training we have on offer. We regularly offer sessions specifically for NFPs via Connecting up (link) and NFPs often also sign up for our wide range of training offered both in person and online on a variety of digital marketing topics. See this link for our upcoming sessions and available online modules.

4/ Hire inhouse talent – FACT: Lots of NFPs struggle to spend on marketing but they do spend on people so this is one of the more common strategies we see NFP execute. There are quite a few issues with this approach including the fact that an average Marketing Manager will set you back around $80,000 per annum which many NFPs can not afford, and the fact the many NFPs put ads out looking for what we call a ‘marketing unicorn’ meaning someone who can do a bit of ‘everything’. However the issue with looking for a unicorn is that… they don’t exist! 

5/ Outsource to a freelancer or agency – Now this point we are obviously biased on and highly recommend! More so the agency side of things given who we are than a freelancer. There are many benefits of outsourcing to an agency including the fact you can access their diverse range of talent (effectively a unicorn of a company instead of trying to find the knowledge and skills you need in one person), it will work out a lot more cost effective than hiring someone, and agencies are only as good as their last project with you meaning if you are not happy, you can move on, without the headache of having to performance manage someone out of the role, as well as paying all the on costs of an employee including work cover, super, and more.

6/ Hybrid model (do some inhouse/outsource some) – This is also a model we think has a lot of merit and highly recommend. Whatever marketing you are going to do, you will need some kind of nominated person in-house that a freelancer or agency can liaise with to give approvals, provide key information and more.  So a hybrid approach is a good option and a popular one with NFPs when considering how they will get their marketing needs met.

Nonprofit Approaches to Budgeting for Marketing

Whether you employ an in-house marketing team, or outsource to an agency of marketing experts (like us!) working out what budget you will allocate to marketing is also a key consideration. There are three main approaches we shared in our presentation when it comes to many how to approach a marketing budget as an NFP: 

1/ The percentage method: Usually somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of the total revenue depending on the stage of the organisation, the size, funding sources, its structure and its focus.

2/ The dollar method: Marketing, communications and fundraising are given a set dollar amount based on past expenditures. This method simplifies projections and makes expectations clear.

3/ The incremental method: Incremental budgets set up a specific percentage by which marketing, communications and fundraising budgets will increase or decrease on a regular (usually quarterly) basis based on immediate past performance.

In summary on the budget question, we would say at a minimum marketing should represent at least 5 percent of your organization’s total annual operating budget if you are quite an established NFP, or more if you are new and trying to establish. But you need a lot of trust in what you invest in – needs to be outcomes focussed.

The Process of improving your NonProfit marketing

STEP 1:  Define Your Marketing Objectives

Your nonprofit marketing plan exists to transform your organization’s mission and big-picture objectives into strategic, actionable goals. So what are yours?

An example can be seen in how we engaged with Sunshine Coast NFP, Enhanced Living. When they came to us, they really had no idea how to approach marketing and were doing a lot of different things in a not very cohesive way. 

The video below explains well how we have helped them to get clear on their marketing objectives which then determined their marketing strategy:

STEP 2: Define Your Target Audience/s

An important step in a marketing plan is to define your target audiences based on demographics, psychographics, behaviours and motivations, and to then refine into smaller audiences and customer personas. 

Not sure of your audience? Check your Google Analytics, your Facebook or Instagram page stats or use Facebook’s amazing Audience tool available free inside Facebook Business manager to help work it out. 

Working with WA based organisation Global Care Network we identified that they had a lot of different target market segments, and though when we originally started talking they had plans to market to the end user of their supported independent living and disability accommodation services, through the process of discussing their target markets, we arrived on the fact that they would be better to deploy a B2B strategy targeting “Support Coordinator Susans”, “Allen the Allied Health Care Workers” and “Steve the Surgeons” who would in turn refer many potential clients. A much more powerful marketing strategy than going direct to each and every customer out there. 

STEP 3: Evaluate Your Brand – Is it modern? Memorable? Trademarkable? Relevant?

Once you have your objectives and target audiences confirmed, you will need to evaluate your current brand and consider if it is modern, memorable and relevant enough to go to market with. Working with Sunshine Coast based NFP group of brands 121 Care, Guardian Group and Suncoast Integrated Therapies, we identified that having several brands presented the group as fragmented, made it difficult to remember, and that though the name 121 Care had historically been appropriate, it was no longer relevant as care was not always offered 1 to 1 any longer, with 1 carer often looking after several of their clients at the one location, or at different locations subject to the service being offered and the client needs. It was identified that one new unified brand was required and the new group brand Supportivity was born.

STEP 4: Ensure your brand has a brand style guide & key messages

It is one thing to have a pretty logo, but it is another to have a brand style guide which explains to anyone in the organisation or anyone interacting with your brand what your colour breakdowns, fonts and correct use of the brand should be. To take it a step further, working with a professional to explore what your key messages are, and how you can position as unique from your competitors is also a worthwhile exercise, as it will set your marketing apart from others and really help you ‘rise above the noise’. 

STEP 5: Review, and Create Your Creative Assets – Images & video

Having good creative assets in hand, namely good quality images or videos (ideally of your team, your product or service and your building) really lifts your marketing game and chance of success. They say a picture paints a thousand words and whilst we couldn’t agree more, video will paint tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands as it is activating both sight and sound and will always perform better on websites and social channels than any other creative asset. Any NFP client that comes to work with us with excellent images or video assets in hand (or who is open to us arranging a photo shoot for them) demonstrates that they get the importance of quality creative assets and makes it easier for us to get great results for them.

STEP 6: Review & Create your Marketing Assets – Website, Social Channels, Database, Conversion Tracking, CRM, Phone Systems 

With a swish new brand, a brand style guide, and some lovely images and videos in hand, you are ready to review your marketing assets, namely your website, social channels, database, CRM, phone system and conversion tracking. Evaluating which of these assets you have, and what state it is in, is also a key part of our marketing approach, and so should it be yours too if you are handling your own marketing inhouse. If you don’t know what any of these things are, they’re all essential and you should be looking to get some outside assistance to get them implemented (talk to us of course!)

STEP 7: Review & Create your Other Assets – Your People!

We believe any marketing strategy should also give consideration to a very important, yet often overlooked asset – your people! Perhaps you have a team member who has a great SLR camera and who loves taking photos. Perhaps another has a strong attention for detail who could make an excellent proof reader of any outbound marketing. Maybe another is quite creative and good at coming up with ideas for fundraising or volunteer drives. All of this enthusiasm should be captured and harnessed. Marketing is not one person’s job at an organisation, nor a department. Spreading the good word about who you are and what you do is everybody’s job and so taking your entire team on the journey of developing a marketing strategy is highly recommended.

Your Options for Marketing Your NonProfit once all of the above is sorted…

A lot like selling a house, once your home base is tidied up, you are ready to ‘go out to market’ and let people know your NFP exists. There are a wide range of low cost but highly effective marketing activities available to all organisations, including Not for Profits which we ran through in our presentation including Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click (including Google Ads & Bing Ads and did you know Not for Profits are eligible to apply for a $10,000 per annum grant from Google? Talk to us about this!) and Social Media Ads. 

In addition you can get create content on your website such as blogs, sharing news, press releases, case studies, and team profiles etc; commence posting and boosting on your social media channels; start to actively seek out media coverage, entering business awards’ conducting email outs to your database or SMS list; and seeking third party endorsements online such as Google Reviews, Facebook reviews and more. The list of what you can do to market your NFP really is large! To access a recording of our NFP session to access all of this great information, sign up to access the recording below.

Track & Measure EVERYTHING!

Who ever is taking a lead on your marketing and whatever kind of budget you are working with, it is essential to make sure you take the time to review how your marketing is going on a periodic basis (we recommend a minimum of monthly) to see what results you are achieving against what you set out to achieve (the marketing objectives at Step 1). 

  1. Did you want to increase the brand awareness of your organisation in general on social channels? Check the brand awareness stats inside Facebook Page insights, Instagram Insights or any other social channels you activate.
  2. Did you want people to see your new video? Check the video view stats on YouTube, Facebook or where ever you have placed the video.
  3. Were you seeking more donations? More members? More sponsors? Do a tally up monthly so you can measure a direct financial impact for your organisation from your marketing.
  4. Were you wanting to recruit new volunteers or staff? Check how many people applied for jobs you posted on Seek, Linkedin, Facebook or via the web form of your Career pages and how many rolled on to first interview, second interview or hire stage.
  5. Did you want to build your online audience or database to market to in the future? Has your audience grown in likes/followers/database?
  6. Did you want more website traffic? Check your Google Analytics for increases here.

And finally the tools you’ll need for marketing as a Nonprofit!

The good news is that when it comes to industry tools for marketing, these days a lot are free or very low cost. In our presentation we shared some of our favourites including the need to download all of the necessary Facebook Apps on your phone (it’s not just the blue Facebook app you need – there is also Facebook Business Suite, Creator Studio and Ads!), to source or invest in a scheduling software such as Buffer or Canva, which also doubles as a brilliant graphic design tool to create marketing and communication assets, and both of which offer generous 50% discounts off for NFPs.

Summary of Nonprofit marketing examples!

We understand that there was a lot to take in from this post and our presentation, so if you would like to book a free 15-20 minute clarity call with one of our amazing team, please schedule that here. 

Alternatively feel free to contact us on any of the options available at: 

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