Are there specific things non-profits need to consider in their social strategy that are different than a general marketing approach? 

Everyone thinks that their issues related to deploying a social media or social business strategies are unique. Yet, most often the issues are universal — not enough time, not enough staff, not enough money.

For nonprofit organizations, social marketing efforts require something more – outcomes. We all know about the importance of demonstrating a return on investment. However, many consider it an exercise best reserved for board meetings or end of year reports. Nonprofits — whether it’s a grassroots campaign, a private school or a multi-national foundation — have an obligation to demonstrate the ROI of a user’s investment. What your organization gets isn’t nearly as important as what your user gets from giving and supporting you.

The Supporter’s Journey is Never Ending

In the for-profit world, there’s a lot of discussion about the customer journey. Thanks to online reviews, social media conversations, and the almost constant exchange of information, the customer experience no longer begins when a customer is in the store and most certainly doesn’t end after a purchase. No, the customer journey is never ending. It may start with a recommendation from a friend or a mobile advertisement, but even after the customer has decided to commit to buy, if they are able to build a relationship with the company afterwards it can influence whether they recommend the company to others or buy again.

The same is also true for non-profits. In lieu of a tangible product, however, it’s essential to provide the non-profit supporter with something valuable in return. Membership incentives like a coffee mug or tote bags are one thing, but an experience that ties them to the cause long after they’ve texted their donation or signed a petition is an entirely different part of the non-profit marketing strategy. Organizations that are able to provide updates about how a donation has impacted the cause or what their support has meant in the long run can keep the supporter connected longer, which can lead them to make additional contributions or promote the cause on your behalf.

Three ways non-profit organizations incorporate outcomes into their marketing strategies: 

1.    Tell a Story

Share a video or personal testimony about how a donation or support has impacted the outcomes of project initiatives. The more you can personalize it, the better. Letters from the front lines or on the ground can detail their contribution or what has been made possible because of them.

Donors Choice

2.    Share Socially

For consumers, word of mouth marketing is still alive. Whether feedback is solicited from Twitter and Facebook or through reviews on Amazon or Yelp, consumers are more informed than ever. As a result, deciding which nonprofit to support can also come down to recommendations from people within one’s social network. Nonprofits can leverage this type of social sharing by making it easy for donors and members to spread the word and share on your behalf.

shark advocates

3.    Say Thank You!

Thanking your donors needn’t be hard, but you do need to say it often.

While the obligatory letter or email may seem enough, nonprofits should strive to think outside the box to show their generosity. A little bit of creativity can be instrumental in inspiring supporters to stay involved. Not every video has to go viral to be successful, nor does it take a massive budget to orchestrate a sincere thank you campaign.