6 Common Nonprofit Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Marketing may look different for nonprofit organizations — but it’s no less important. In fact, engaging with your audience as a nonprofit may be even more rewarding, since you get to showcase the important work you do with potential supporters and invite them to join you in your mission. Digital marketing can be a powerful tool for nonprofits to reach new audiences and build a strong online presence. 

At Redstory, our mission is to connect brands to people, and people to change. We love to help nonprofit organizations thrive in their marketing efforts, so we want to highlight some potential pitfalls that could hinder your success in connecting with your audience. Here are some common marketing mistakes in nonprofit organizations — and how to avoid them and replace them with a better strategy. 

6 Common Marketing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

1. Casting an unclear vision. 

If you’re in charge of marketing for a nonprofit, you know the organization’s vision, mission, and goals like the back of your hand. However, sometimes marketers forget that their audience might be “meeting” the organization online for the first time. Most potential supporters have incomplete information, if any at all, when they first engage with your organization online. It’s important to cast a clear vision in your digital marketing. Highlight exactly what you do, who you serve, and how supporters can join you. 

The fix: If needed, bring in a brand expert or copywriter to help you clearly articulate your big-picture vision. Then, you’ll be able to create a cohesive strategy that supports it — and helps your audience understand exactly what you want to accomplish through your nonprofit. A clear vision motivates your audience into action. 

2. Neglecting your website, blog, or email list. 

Let’s bust a myth: marketing does NOT occur through paid advertising alone! Your website attracts visitors who are searching for organizations like yours through online searches (and having a good SEO strategy helps them find you.) Blogging consistently on your site, and paying attention to keywords and Google rankings, can give you a serious boost online. And engaging your email audience through regular communication is a great way to keep supporters in the loop and enthusiastic about your efforts! 

The fix: remember to branch out from paid advertising and use the tools you already have at your disposal to reach new audiences — and connect with your current ones! Keep your website up to date, implement a blog strategy into your marketing efforts, and send informative and educational content via email regularly. 

3. Trying to establish a presence on every social media platform. 

Social media is ever-changing. If you’re not careful, you can begin to feel like you’re running in place, doing lots of work without catching up to the rapidly shifting trends! Here’s some good news: you don’t need to be active on every social media platform to run a successful digital marketing campaign. 

The fix: Instead of posting everywhere, perform market research to come up with a nonprofit marketing strategy that actually lands with your ideal supporters. Maybe they spend most of their time on Instagram. Perhaps they’re on TikTok, Facebook, or Pinterest instead. Learning where your audience spends their digital time will help you build successful connections with them over time (and save you from posting in places that won’t help you gain support). 

4. Focusing on yourself in your marketing efforts. 

We see this marketing mistake all the time: in an effort to educate their audiences about the work their organization does, they end up sending out content that focuses internally. This is educational, yes, but it doesn’t inspire action in your potential supporters. If you want to gain support, give your donors and your recipients an opportunity to become the heroes in the story. 

The fix: let your supporters and your recipients share the spotlight. Yes, it can be a bit complex to speak to two target audiences — but trust us, you’ll get further learning on how to share that space instead of focusing on internal narratives. Instead, share stories and wins (with permission), and focus on how your supporters are making a difference in the lives of your recipients. 

5. Creating complicated systems.

If you only take one thing away from this blog, let it be this: don’t make it difficult for your supporters to support you. Some nonprofit websites are crystal clear on their mission, vision, values, and stories, but vague and complicated when it comes to joining the cause. Don’t let this be you!  It should be easy for your audience to connect with your team, sign up for your email list, and, perhaps most importantly, give to your organization. 

The fix: View your website, social media bio links, and email templates as though you were seeing them for the first time. Can you easily find out how to give? Serve? Ask a question? If not, change things as needed. Always give your supporters a clear and concise path to joining you in your mission. Bonus tip: make sure there is a clear call to action! Instead of a “give” button buried in your website footer, create a prominent CTA that asks them to support you — and tells them how to do it. 

6.  Forgetting to establish credibility. 

In today’s digital world, credibility is everything. Online audiences often aren’t sure who to trust, so it's important to showcase who you are and why your brand deserves their trust and support. Thankfully, you can do this in a variety of ways!

The fix: Consider partnering with a well-respected organization whose interests are aligned with yours. This could be a local business, a chamber of commerce, a charity, a regional/national organization, or a professional society. You can also boost your credibility by providing stories and testimonials on your website and social media channels, giving viewers a chance to see your values in action.  

Exploring Nonprofit Marketing Partnerships

Redstory is passionate about partnering with nonprofits because we believe in creating what matters. Nonprofit work is impactful across the globe, and we want to help organizations excel digitally so that they can raise both awareness and support for their causes. We’ve been privileged to work alongside some incredible nonprofits in recent years. Take a look at case studies from our work with the International Justice Mission (IJM) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

If you’d like a marketing partner who understands the importance of your work and wants to help you take your organization to new heights, you’re in the right place. Reach out to our team today.