Nonprofit Marketing Lessons from 2016’s Largest Charities

Posted by Danielle Cyr on Fri, Jan, 06, 2017 @ 08:01 AM

Forbes recently released its list of the year’s largest U.S. charities and, not surprisingly, there are many organizations who have achieved “household name” status on the list. There are also a number of organizations on the list that you may not be familiar with and whose work in the community may not be on your radar. Regardless of your familiarity, the organizations on this list offer some valuable lessons that can improve the success of your nonprofit marketing campaigns.

nonprofit marketing.jpgMaintain a consistent brand

The success of chart-topping United Way, along with eighth-ranked Boys & Girls Clubs of America, tenth ranked Goodwill Industries International and others on the list, reinforces the importance of brand consistency. While these organizations have local chapters/affiliates in markets across the U.S., there is no denying their connection to the mother brand. From logos and colors to mission and vision, these local counterparts are working – and marketing themselves – in lock-step with their parent organization.

Focus on stories

In-store campaigns to support sixth-ranked St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are a staple during the holiday season. And, from the stickers and signage retailers use to support their efforts to the ads you see on television, the power of an authentic story articulated by someone who was directly impacted by your organization’s work is undeniable. Donors want to invest in successful organizations and client stories are a powerful tool for communicating your successes.

Harness the power of partnerships

You’ve likely seen the television ads promoting Conagra’s Child Hunger Ends Here® campaign, a partnership with third-ranked Feeding America. By aligning a nonprofit with a national brand – and a family of consumer packaged goods brands that occupy store shelves across the U.S. – visibility, awareness and action all stand to make meaningful gains. For-profit partnerships can help nonprofits to reach new audience, gain exposure to target audiences through highly coveted marketing channels and amplify their reach significantly.

Be timely

The American National Red Cross, #21 on the list, is a living, breathing case study in real-time marketing. When disaster strikes, they are up-and-running in the blink of an eye not only dispatching resources to support those in need, but providing easy ways for others to take swift and meaningful action to help the organization increase its impact.

Lead with impact

From health-driven nonprofits supporting patients and clinical research to social services organizations addressing social barriers such as income disparity, hunger and access to quality education, the proof is in the numbers. As noted early on, donors want to invest in successful organizations. Quantifiable proof points are a key tool for communicating those successes, as is implementing an integrated marketing campaign that ensures online and offline marketing activities are not only aligned with one another, but with the organization’s strategic plan and fundraising/development goals.

As many nonprofits head into the second half of their 2017 fiscal year this January, it is critical to evaluate the marketing successes and missteps that have comprised the first part of the year. The nonprofits on Forbes list of The Largest U.S. Charities offer organizations both large and small, regional and national, examples of fundraising and marketing success that can help to inform their own campaigns.

Need a roadmap to guide your nonprofit marketing efforts? Download our free guide to nonprofit communications plans today.

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Topics: nonprofit PR, nonprofit communications plan, branding, nonprofit marketing