Before we get started with this step, take a minute to congratulate yourself! Forming a nonprofit, applying for tax-exempt status, and filing the required state documentation is a huge accomplishment. Now that (most) of the legal filings are out of the way, it’s time to start focusing on why you started this journey: getting your organization in front of the public. Doing so requires marketing.
Most organizations cannot ask for donations until filing a state Charity Registration. It can take the IRS six months to make a tax-exempt determination. Instead of merely waiting for the paperwork to arrive, now is a great time to prepare for marketing.
Most people starting a nonprofit do so because they’re passionate about their organization’s purpose. This drive is crucial for the organization’s success. However, no matter how devoted the Board of Directors is, without marketing, potential donors and those needing your organization’s services will not know the opportunity exists.
Informing people that your organization exists and giving them a clear understanding of your cause is just as important to a nonprofit organization as it is for a for-profit business. That is why marketing is so vital. Unfortunately, many nonprofit organizations don’t focus enough time or energy on marketing. They often think they can’t afford the cost or that by starting a nonprofit, volunteers and donations will automatically arrive. Without proper marketing, not only will potential volunteers and donors not know your nonprofit exists, but they won’t want to engage.
Failure to properly market and communicate your organization’s message is a guaranteed road to failure. The good news is that you don’t need a communications degree to market your nonprofit. You only need a few tools, time, and passion to get the word out.
There are many ways to market your nonprofit. Like fundraising, which we’ll cover in the next step, marketing is limited only by the organization’s imagination and time. Here are a few standard marketing options:
- Branding: Developing a logo and color scheme for the organization.
- Website: Creating a space for information and donations.
- Social Media: Engaging with potential donors, volunteers, and participants.
- Press Release: Notifying news outlets about your organization.
- Email Newsletter: Communicating the organization’s activities.
While we’re covering marketing at this point in the startup process, know that you don’t need to have a plan for every type of marketing right now. While waiting to solicit funds, it’s a good idea to develop a marketing plan. Maybe priority one is primary branding and then, as funds become available, a quality website. This way, when the organization can solicit funds, it has a clear and unified marketing message ready to go.
BryteBridge has a team of graphic designers and branding experts ready to aid your organization’s marketing goals.