Standing out is essential for nonprofits, especially during the busy year-end season. Catching donors’ eyes, quickly conveying your message, and leaving a lasting impression are essential to securing more support and building deeper relationships.

The best way to do this is to focus on meaningful marketing. With meaningful marketing, your nonprofit can break through the noise of thousands of ads and not only create a connection, but motivate donors to act.

But how?

Let’s dive into the top 4 strategies you need to know to create meaningful marketing.

1. Understand Your Audience’s Emotions

Before you begin creating your marketing approach, you must first consider who you’re hoping to engage. Identifying a target audience will help you find the right messaging and outreach strategies that will be most effective. From there, your team can better target the message, voice, and specific communication channels of your campaign.

 Whether the audience is large or small, you’ll need to understand who they are and why they’re a part of your organization’s community.

For example, if you’re a school reaching out to alumni for your annual campaign, think through these questions:

  • Who has participated in past annual campaigns?
  • Where are most of our loyal supporters located?
  • How old are our target supporters?
  • What messaging has been most effective in the past at engaging them?

Once you’ve done your marketing homework, start to unpack the real feeling behind why they give. How? By asking and listening. You can do this by running surveys or calling to talk to them. We recommend doing this at least twice a year.

You may find that alumni give more money more often when they can choose a program that’s close to their heart for it to go towards. Or you may uncover that personal stories from current students are what truly drive donations.

Anchor your marketing with these emotional connections. This will ensure that you not only catch their attention, but also connect with them and tap into their motivators – making them more likely to engage with your messages and ultimately your cause.

2. Emphasize Social Giving

Social giving allows you to supercharge the reach of your fundraising campaigns and make your fundraising efforts much more compelling to wider audiences.

Social donors, the heroes behind social giving, place social connection at the center of their giving motivators. Knowing that human connections influence their charitable participation, you can maximize your meaningful marketing approach by incorporating Ambassador fundraising into your events or campaigns.

Ambassador fundraising is a more hands-on form of peer-to-peer fundraising that takes social giving to the next level by tapping into your most passionate supporters to help fundraise directly for your cause. Add a competitive element to your fundraiser, and you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for maximizing social giving!

When coming up with a list of ambassadors, think about your:

  • Board members
  • Volunteers
  • Sponsor connections and networks
  • Event committees
  • Supporters with a large social media following

Ambassadors should be influential people who have strong networks and social clout. They should be passionate about your cause, engaged in the community, and well-connected.

Remember, your ambassadors become an important “face of your cause” for your event or campaign. Providing them with tools (templates, promotional materials, social media posts) and fundraising technology to better leverage their social networks will help set you up for success.

3. Rely on User-Generated Content

User-generated content is one of the best ways to engage your audience while reducing a bit of your team’s workload. But what is user-generated content (USG)?

USG consists of any content (blogs, videos, images, or reviews) created by people rather than brands. It’s an important element of a meaningful marketing strategy for for-profit organizations. And nonprofits can benefit too! It may look like donors posting, writing, and advocating for your cause.

Overall, USG:

  • Creates authenticity
  • Establishes trust between you and your donors
  • Builds a connection with a wider audience
  • Lessens the burden on your team for content creation
  • Influences decision making

 Extra benefit: Leveraging user-generated content grants you insight into how others perceive your mission and their personal connection to your cause. You’ll gain a new perspective, create social proof, and can help influence how you market and fundraise (back to strategy #1)!

4. Ask for More Than Just Donations

 Finally, remember that even the most meaningful and emotionally compelling marketing messages can quickly get tuned out if you’re only asking for donations over and over.

Show your supporters that you want them to be a part of your community – which can come in many different forms, including:

  • Donating
  • Volunteering
  • Sharing your posts online
  • Spinning up a DIY campaign

Ensure that your outreach cadences include a mix of calls to action tailored to your audience and their interests. Of course, during a fundraising campaign, your emphasis will remain on asking for donations. But make sure you’re making a compelling case leading up to your asks:

  • Your messages should lay the groundwork by showing your work, impact, needs, and constituents while illustrating for supporters the specific difference they’d make.
  • Each message might ask for a donation, but it should never be in a contextual vacuum. Remember your audience’s motivations and emotions and use them to shape your asks.
  • You can still mix in other calls to action – like follow us on social to keep up with campaign updates, sign up for our newsletter, volunteer at our event, etc.

By mixing up your messaging you’re more likely to generate support – you’re keeping them engaged without asking too much!

Wrapping Up

Fundraising is much like marketing – it’s all about building relationships. Meaningful marketing takes the relationship to the next level, forming a deeper connection between your nonprofit and its donors.

Now, imagine this: you’ve spent the time and effort to market your cause, you’ve captured the attention of a donor, and they decide to give. According to recent OneCause research, it’s the giving experience that truly seals the deal. Make sure you have the right fundraising software!

Chad Strazzara

Chad Strazzara

Chad Strazzara is AlumniFinder's Marketing Specialist and started in August of 2022. Chad takes great pride in his connection to his hometown and Pacific Northwest culture and is a devout fan of the Seahawks and Mariners. He graduated from Gonzaga University in May of 2021 with a degree in journalism and digital marketing.