Everyone knows that nonprofits generally don’t have any money. The image of people working at folding tables with old computers and paper everywhere comes to mind when I think of what the office of a nonprofit looks like. This is the environment of a place where people value the work they do more than the money they are putting in their pockets. Being able to see the impact that they are making on the community is why so many people choose the life of meager pay and long hours at a nonprofit.
One of the day to day struggles is that there is not much money for stuff, which is typically taken for granted in the corporate world. This goes from providing your own coffee to having no marketing budget. As the new Marketing Assistant, one of my challenges has been having no budget to work with. Any of you who are familiar with marketing and social media know that this is a difficult task. However, I believe that we really have made progress in our marketing strategy and social media despite the lack of budget and no marketing plan in place.
We went from only having 1,370 Twitter followers to having 1,615 in just six short weeks. Perhaps to some of you that doesn’t sound like a lot, there are people who go viral and gain thousands and thousands of followers in one day. Well, let me tell you, that is not us. We haven’t gone viral nor do I think that we will any time soon. But, we do try to establish real relationships with people by posting relevant content and engaging with our followers. Does that mean we get hundreds of favorites or retweets everyday? Nope. But, those numbers have been increasing as we engage more with our followers and reach out to others. I expect that we will continue to grow and gain the trust of our followers and hopefully some of those followers will then become clients.
Now, you might be thinking, but what about Facebook? Facebook is a another ballgame all by itself. This is probably the area that we struggle in most due to not being able to “pay to play.” It has been significantly more difficult to engage with others and to get others to engage with us. Not only have we seen less growth, but with Facebook changing their algorithms our posts are being seen by less and less people. With the current landscape of Facebook it is almost impossible to gain more Likes and engage people in your content, mostly because the majority of the people who currently Like you don’t even see your posts. Many companies are frustrated with the way Facebook has changed and nonprofits nationwide are left scrambling to come up with more money for their marketing budget.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So, how do we overcome these obstacles? The obvious answer is to get a budget approved specifically for Facebook and target your ads accordingly to get maximum exposure to the right audiences. But, what if you can’t get that budget approved and you are left posting into never never land? Unfortunately, there is not a good answer to this. There are some things that you can do, one of those is making sure that everyone in your office is sharing your content and promoting your page. This way more people are seeing the nonprofit’s content and people are more likely to Like something that a friend has already Liked. One downside to this method is that the majority of people do not want to use their personal Facebook page to constantly promote the nonprofit. This just means that you need to be more conscious of the things you are sharing and how often you share.
These are only a few of the challenges of marketing for a nonprofit with no budget, naturally there are many more challenges than this. The main thing to remember when marketing for a nonprofit is that there are going to be many challenges and you have to look at them simply as opportunities to learn creative ways to solve problems. This will make you a better marketer and help you keep a positive attitude when things aren’t going your way (like not getting a budget approved or no one liking your awesomely crafted post). Don’t expect to go viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Budweiser “Puppy Love” ad from the Super Bowl (they got over 1.9 million shares). DO try to come up with ways to get noticed in your community. Look at how these particular campaigns were successful and look at how you can take your campaign and introduce some of those techniques.
What are some of your marketing challenges? Do you work for a large company or a small organization? Comment and tell me about how you have overcome some of these obstacles!