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What You Don’t Want to Miss in Your Communications Strategy

Today, we live in a world filled with marketing clutter. In the 1970s, marketing professionals said we were exposed to approximately 500 ads per day. Those experts say that today we are seeing at least 5,000 ads per day, a ten-fold increase. Marketers are constantly working to break through the noise and non-profits need to remember it is essential to be doing this on a daily basis.

In order to make the most of your marketing dollars, it is important to couple your objectives with the overall strategies of your organization.

Annual Marketing Plan and Calendar

The most successful organizations do planning and measure their success against the metrics they have laid out at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is an opportunity for the marketing team as well. Laying out a plan with goals, objectives, measurable benchmarks and a calendar in advance of the new year makes the work concrete and is essential for presenting to senior management and the board what the marketing staff within your organization is trying to accomplish. This is also imperative to successfully positioning your organization on a better footing to communicate with the media, donors and all of your constituents in a consistent and methodical manner.


People are moved to donate to your organization because of emotion. The way to communicate what you are about is to provide donors with a real world picture of the work and how it is done. In addition to highlighting your successes with facts and figures, tell stories about those served by your organization, putting a face and name to them. One story can move an individual to become involved and support your charity. Despite all the noise, just like in seeing a good movie or reading a book, people still care about a story that is well told. It is memorable and easy for people to then convey to others.

Put Your CEO Out Front

Your non-profit’s CEO is the organization’s face and public figure. Therefore, it is important to have him or her communicate with donors, prospects, media and other key constituents. A marketing plan should include a strategy for having the CEO out front during events, but also at other times. For example, your CEO can do a regular podcast, which is uploaded to your organization’s website, to give news, events and stories related to your charity. Another strategy is to have your CEO host town hall meetings in person or virtually, not only with staff, but also with external constituents who are interested in knowing more about your work. By maintaining your CEO’s profile high, you ensure that he or she is building and maintaining relationships, as well as ensuring your organization’s brand and work is being consistently communicated externally.

Remember, People Scan First and Then Read

Headlines matter when putting out articles or trying to catch the eye of people visiting your site. People typically scan something first to see if it is of use and interest of them before they will invest any time in reading. That means that to break through the clutter, you need to be able to capture someone’s attention in the first few seconds. This is done by having bold and interesting headlines and headers, and having the most important and relevant information early.

Consistently Gather Information

Staff is sometimes too close to a story or the planning to know if it really does resonate with those outside of the organization. It is important to regularly be testing the messages that are being presented. This is easily accomplished by surveying your donors, for example, with key questions around marketing campaigns they may be seeing. In addition, each board should have a marketing committee and working with those board members or some sort of advisory committee for marketing will provide critical feedback about overall strategies and campaign efforts. Finally, using online tools, such as Google Analytics, is important to understanding your online impact.


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