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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Five Nonprofit Marketing Myths Debunked

Every year, the nonprofit industry continues to grow. As more and more organizations enter the scene, the need to become competitive is ever more essential as it's the only way to ensure success. Marketing plays a crucial role in this aspect, and with a well-defined online marketing strategy, reaching your target audience and the results you want are more than ever before.

Nonprofit marketing is all about getting the name out there, as it will allow you to connect with potential supporters and generate results. This holds true in the online world as well. However, to ensure success, it's essential to broaden your horizon, and don't focus on only having an up-to-date website. 

Dedication and perseverance are also outstanding. Aside from that, knowing some of the most common mistakes and misconceptions regarding nonprofit marketing can also help you in the long run, and we're here to discuss just that.

1. You Will Never Run Out of Donors

One of the most common misconceptions is that, since it's a nonprofit organization, there will always be a group of people who would be interested in lending a hand. Although this might be true, you have to consider that there are also other nonprofit organizations out there. 

Loyalty shifts based on the type of audience-- the non-donors who are not familiar with the organization; the non-donors who know the organization, and the donors. Each audience is expecting a particular content from the organization, and these groups correspond perfectly to the stages of the donor funnel-- the prospecting, cultivation, and stewardship. 

Failure to focus on what these groups of people need would result in having your prospects switch to another nonprofit organization. You can keep an eye on what your donors want by monitoring their interaction with your website and other online tools like email marketing analytics. 

To fix this, make sure that your content is educational to increase the chances of attracting potential donors, and once you get their interest, this raises the possibility that they'll slowly convert into donors. 

2. Social Media Is Only for the Younger Set of Audience

Despite the fact that there's audience demographics for every social media platform, it doesn't mean that it's only utilized by the younger audience. As a matter of fact, according to a recent survey done by Pew, Twitter is widely used by those who are 40-55 years old. 

Although the younger generation prefers Instagram and Snapchat, this doesn't mean that there aren't any adults who have an account on these social media platforms.

That means social media is an integral component of nonprofit digital marketing strategy. Through this, you can engage possible target groups, increase awareness for your organization, or even improve your website's SEO. No wonder why social media has become a dominant component of digital marketing.

3. Nonprofit Marketing Is Completely Free

Although you can sign up for a free account and get the necessary features for free, if you want to enjoy an active content marketing strategy, it's not something that's completely free of charge. For one, you'll probably have to spend a good amount on advertising, equipment, and of course, let us not forget about hiring a marketing agency or expert. 

These are just some of the few criteria for an organization to succeed. Additionally, even though nonprofits work with a completely different mindset than business sectors, it doesn't mean that good business practices won't be similar.

4. Acquiring New Donors Is More Expensive Than Retaining Old Ones 

Contrary to popular belief, it's not less expensive to retain current donors than attracting new ones. We're not saying that you should stop focusing on retention, however, keep in mind that finding balance is better. 

Just think about it, if your current donor hasn't done anything for six months, it's easy to assume that he's no longer a supporter. This doesn't mean that the donor feels the same-- it could be, they're just looking for the perfect opportunity to donate again, or have moved to a different location. 

If your organization's primary focus is these people, then you're missing out the bigger picture. You are slowly shrinking your supporter base, and this could lead to the downfall of your nonprofit organization.

5. Marketing Is Just Tactical

This myth is based on the belief that as long as you have a strategic plan in place, you're good to go. This misconception prompts leadership to take marketing for granted. Failure to integrate vital marketing questions together with the strategic planning process could lead to lack of constituent perspective, and affect the whole marketing strategy. 

Your SEO marketing strategy will be lead by the needs of your audience and desires of your community. You should always align your marketing strategy with what and how your donors and/or volunteers are searching. Remember that a person is behind each search, click, and donation. It is your job to understand what they want and then align their needs with your nonprofit organization’s services. 

To resolve this, it's important to pay attention to marketing considerations, such as competitive analysis, brand development strategy, and fundamental research.

These are just some of the most common misconceptions about nonprofit marketing, and we do hope that this can help those who are in the organization to have a better understanding of what nonprofit marketing is all about, and what should be done to meet their goals.

Chris is a Digital Media Strategy Consultant in Orlando, FL. He helps nonprofits grow their online presence as a freelance copywriter and SEO marketer. 


ASU Lodestar Center Blog