Nonprofit marketing strategies are about scale and personalization. Thanks to trends in the private sector, donors expect this.
That means nonprofits must leverage technology (even for offline channels like direct mail) to meet supporters where they’re at with a message that speaks to them.
We’re all about that.
We know the ins and outs of data-driven marketing plans that drive donations and action. One of our team’s cultural principles is, “Show, don’t tell.”; so in that spirit, we’ll let our work speak for itself with this story from the Gary Sinise Foundation.
How the Gary Sinise Foundation Redefined Its Nonprofit Marketing Strategy for Growth
Written by Ricardo Chavira
Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Gary Sinise Foundation
The Challenge: Attract new donors in younger generations, increase our conversion rate, and optimize our nonprofit marketing efforts for growth.
I'll start by saying that this story hasn’t come to a close yet because we’re still in the midst of an entire revamp of our marketing strategy and operations. But there’s plenty I want to say about it now.
To rewind a bit…
In the fall of 2019, I was thinking about this challenge of donor conversion and retention, and I realized we needed a partner to help us make some BIG changes for growth.
I contacted CauseMic, knowing they fit the bill and had deep experience in building nonprofit marketing strategies for VSOs (Veteran Service Organizations) like ours.
Their Rapid Growth Plan was something I was particularly interested in, and we kicked off with that. They helped us build a one-page strategic nonprofit marketing plan (1 page > 30 page report) and use a “project backlog” to prioritize our highest impact, lowest cost projects.
An enormous question we had was: What’s motivating our existing donors to give, let alone new audiences? We needed insight and data to drive our strategy.
Enter: Market Research. CauseMic carried out both qualitative and quantitative research, speaking with donors, supporters, and our prospective target audience.
Bump in the RoadNear the end of this market research project, one of our team members was called to active duty, leaving us without a Salesforce administrator. I invited CauseMic to step in to backfill the role temporarily, which was awesome because we needed that covered ASAP.
We were clear on this: If we wanted to scale our revenue, we needed to understand and streamline our channels, focusing on the ones with the best donor conversion rates.
First, the platform. There are a lot of nonprofit marketing platforms out there. We chose Salesforce Marketing Cloud and CauseMic helped us implement it.
Next, the channels. Paid media was a great mechanism for us to test in real-time what channels resonated most with our audiences. We were able to build out numerous target audiences with younger demographics; plus, we leveraged advertising platforms new to our organization such as Instagram and Amazon Prime Video. (Research shows that donors are three times more likely to give if they receive a solicitation from three or more different channels.) We included email and direct mail campaigns to increase our chances of converting donors.
The results were impressive.
Redefining Roles and Collaboration
Through this process, we discovered that some of our pain points were a result of misaligned staff roles and responsibilities. We needed to optimize our nonprofit marketing team positions.
To course correct, we moved some of the large fundraising goals to the Marketing Department, which freed up the Development Team to focus on high-touch (i.e. time-intensive) philanthropy.
For the first time ever, my team had target revenue numbers to aim for.
More great internal operation changes thanks to CauseMic:
- Greater collaboration: We improved collaboration between the Marketing and Development departments so that we could all hear what major donors were saying about our brand, as well as provide impact stories to fundraisers to share on the front lines.
- Defined leads: CauseMic helped us bridge the gap between our marketing and development departments by defining and developing processes for a marketing-qualified lead vs. a development-qualified lead.
- Integrated technology tools: CauseMic interviewed the different development functions (major gifts, planned giving, corporate giving) and defined the requirements to track donor cultivation and stewardship plans. Then they configured Salesforce NPSP to optimize our constituent lifecycle.
CauseMic solidified our new operating model by drafting a collegial agreement for our two departments to sign.
It was such a refreshing approach that both of our teams reported feeling re-energized and motivated!
Transforming Our Nonprofit Content Marketing
Technology is an incredible enabler, but compelling stories and content for donors are just as important!
That market research we did at the beginning of this journey? It came back here.
Examining the donor journey, CauseMic helped us create a series of personalized, multi-channel messages to help nurture and convert our supporter audiences.
Call Them ‘Force Multipliers’
Here we are today...
CauseMic has become more than an extension of our team and technology implementer. They feel like family, listening openly and discussing complex types of nonprofit marketing with us honestly and professionally.
They lead from first-hand experience, and we trust their guidance.
We have restructured my team, changed our processes, and now we think differently about our roles in the organization. It’s all working fantastic; we’ve raised millions of dollars since we began our work with CauseMic.
We made rapid changes to scale revenue, reach new audiences, and—most importantly—support even more defenders and their families to show our profound gratitude to them.
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