How to Write a Marketing Plan for Your Nonprofit Organization

marketing plan for nonprofits

 

Nonprofit marketing may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Marketing for a nonprofit is different from traditional business marketing in many ways, but the fundamental principles are the same. If you are tasked with creating or revising your nonprofit’s marketing plan, these tips can help you create an effective document that will help you succeed.

Why You Should Develop a Marketing Plan for a Nonprofit

In today’s increasingly digital world, you will absolutely need a solid content marketing strategy in place before you launch any kind of paid advertising campaign. The good news is that it doesn’t take too much time or money to establish an online presence with blog posts, videos, and social media updates – tools that are essential for the success of your nonprofit business.

The key is to stay focused on building relationships with potential clients or donors by sharing valuable information that helps them understand your cause. This educational content will help you rise above the noise of your industry, and ultimately stand out from the crowd.

Once you have a strong base of loyal fans or donors, you’ll be ready to begin advertising your goods and services with confidence knowing that your target audience will recognize the value of what you have to offer.

 

Marketing Plan Basics

A typical marketing plan includes the following components:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Target Market Segments
  3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  4. Pricing and Positioning Strategy
  5. Distribution Strategy
  6. Offers
  7. Marketing Materials
  8. Promotions Strategy
  9. Digital Marketing Plan
  10. Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy
  11. Financial Projections

 

How to Write a Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Executive Summary

Although the first section of your plan, it should be the final section of your marketing plan that is written.

In two or three pages, summarize all of the information you have presented in the other sections and include a summary version of any graphs or charts you have included.

You should also include your marketing goals, objectives, and success metrics for the first year of operations.

 

Target Market Segments

Begin by dividing your potential customers into segments based on their demographics, geography, lifestyle, behavior, or any other factors that are relevant to your organization’s cause. Be sure to provide an explanation of how you determined these target market segments.

For example, a nonprofit that provides services for abused and neglected children may want to target mothers aged 18-40 who live in the city where their organization’s shelter is located because these women are likely to seek out local nonprofits.

 

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The USP is the one thing your product or service offers that no other business can provide. It’s important to be able to clearly describe why someone should choose your nonprofit’s services over those of a competitor.

Think about what makes you unique, and include it in this section.

For example, a children’s shelter might claim to offer “the best care and emotional support in the region.”

 

Pricing and Positioning Strategy

This section should cover your nonprofit’s pricing strategy, how you determine pricing, and what sets your prices apart from those of competitors. If there are specific circumstances that might affect your pricing strategy for certain types of customers or in certain market conditions, be sure to mention them here.

For example, a nonprofit may need to use a sliding scale based on income levels to ensure they can meet a client’s needs affordably.

 

Distribution Strategy

Include the channels you plan to use to distribute your goods or services, how you intend to reach potential customers/constituents with those distribution channels, and plans for expanding into new channels as needed.

In this section, you should list all relevant information about these distribution channels, including costs associated with each channel, the fees you could be charged by any third parties that are involved, and your anticipated cost per lead or sale.

 

Offers

Describe your nonprofit’s products and services in this section. Include any special offers, seasonal promotions, or plans to expand into new goods or services in the future. You will also want to include information about prices, discounts for bulk purchases, payment options, how frequently you offer sales, etc.

For example, a shelter might offer a reduced rate for families who stay longer than one month, or free counseling services to any client attending an after-school program at their facility.

 

Marketing Materials

Include the different materials you need to produce and distribute your goods and services. For example, if you plan on sending out postcards or other mailings to potential clients, be sure to include those in this section.

Also, include any promotional items you plan on giving away for free or at a reduced cost.

A shelter could include flyers for their after-school program in this section, or pens imprinted with their logo that they give away at fundraising events.

 

Promotions Strategy

List the promotion activities you are planning to engage in during the next quarter. These can include events, publicity efforts, social media campaigns, etc. This is also where you should discuss any campaigns or activities that require third-party involvement. For example, if your shelter is planning a large fundraising event, the costs and fees of any vendors will go in this section.

 

Digital Marketing Plan

If your nonprofit is planning to engage in social media marketing, list all relevant information here such as which platforms you plan to use, what your goals are for those platforms, how frequently you plan on engaging with users.

Any nonprofit with a 501c3 exemption should also apply for a Google Ad Grant which will help your nonprofit gain visibility on Google searches. This program offers $10,000 per month to your nonprofit to advertise on your target keywords. This could include driving more traffic to your website, advertising a scholarship program, or raising money for a fundraiser. There are specific rules for this program, but it’s worth the time to learn or hire someone with experience in these types of ads.

 

Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy

This section covers how you will track potential clients’ success in obtaining the goods or services you offer. This should also cover any process changes necessary to successfully convert leads into paying customers.

For example, a nonprofit that offers counseling might need to make sure they are offering a client an in-person or phone consultation within their first 24 hours with the organization to make it easier for the client to assess his or her needs and begin building a relationship with their counselor.

Also include any referral programs, discounts, or promotions that encourage repeat business. For example, your nonprofit might offer discounts on bulk purchases if your client fills out a short survey after their first session.

 

Financial Projections

This section should include income estimates for the next twelve months. Be sure to break out your costs, including the cost of any 3rd-party services you employ, alongside your revenue projections.

Also, be sure to show how much money you have on hand now and how much more will be needed to run the business over the next year.

Include a simple profit-and-loss chart in this section to visualize these projections.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete a solid nonprofit marketing plan, download our proven marketing plan template here.


 

Common Marketing Strategies for a Nonprofit Business

Although every nonprofit will need to develop a marketing plan that meets its own unique needs, here are some common strategies you may choose to implement.

 

Attracting high-quality board members

A strong board of directors can act as an incredibly powerful asset for your organization. It is likely that the individuals who serve on your board will be well placed in their own respective communities to help promote your cause.

 

Focus on creating high-quality content

High-quality online content that is relevant and informative can attract potential clients, donors, or volunteers. This kind of content should include regular blog posts related to your nonprofit’s work (and social media updates), videos about the kinds of projects you’re involved in, and a steady stream of material that helps you build your name within your industry.

 

Reaching new donors

Nonprofit fundraisers often need to reach out to potential donors in an unexpected way; this can include calling supporters on the phone or sending them handwritten letters asking for support. These types of outreach efforts should be made in addition to email and social media campaigns.

 

Raising awareness at special events

Another common marketing tactic for nonprofits is to host a special event, such as a gala or 5K race that will raise money for your cause while also raising awareness of its existence. This approach can be expensive, but if you choose the right event, it has the potential to reach a new audience that your nonprofit ca

If you’re fortunate enough to have a budget for marketing, remember that these kinds of special events should be seen as investments rather than expenses. They take time and planning, so don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t get the results you were hoping for.

 

Sample Marketing Plan for Nonprofit Business

 

Example #1 – Rescue Purrfections – a Nonprofit Animal Rescue Group

Executive Summary

Rescue Purrfections is a local animal rescue organization focused on saving animals that are euthanized at other shelters. We find animals in kill shelters and foster them until we can find homes for them, as well as working with community members to adopt the animals they want to care for.

As an organization, our mission is to be a no-kill shelter and through our work, we have been able to save thousands of animals from euthanasia each year. We are currently working towards being able to care for animals on a full-time basis so that they never have to go back to a kill shelter again.

In order to get our name out there, we have been working with other animal rescue groups in the state of Oregon to share information on each other’s Facebook pages in order to raise awareness of the benefits of fostering. We are also hosting “tails” events, where we invite potential foster families out to an event where they can get to know some of our furry friends and sign up for opportunities.

We are a nonprofit, so we rely heavily on individuals and organizations to donate financially in addition to the time and effort they give to our animals.

 

Target Market Segments

We work with people who are physically able to adopt cats or dogs, so we can target those individuals who have spare rooms in their homes for pets. These people also tend to be open to fostering animals.

The demographics include individuals between the ages of 25-55 who have disposable income.

 

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Rescue Purrfections believes that all pets deserve a loving home and that no animal should be euthanized because of overpopulation in the shelters. We are an all-inclusive shelter that does not discriminate against any animal who is up for adoption, which makes us unique from other similar organizations.

 

Pricing and Positioning Strategy

Rescue Purrfections’ pricing strategy is to have a minimum donation at all times.

All of the animals that are available for adoption through our organization have an application fee to cover medical needs and transportation fees if need be, so it would be impractical to set a $ amount for donations.

 

Distribution Strategy

We have a website where people can sign up to volunteer and foster, as well as read our blog for news about what we’re doing. We also post all of our animals available for adoption or in need of fostering on Facebook and Twitter.

We also rely on community members who post animals up for adoption on their Facebook pages or other social media accounts to get the word out.

 

Offers

Rescue Purrfections has a monthly drawing for 5 free adoptions that we raffle off to one individual who donates $30 or more to our organization. By doing this, we hope that people will see us and what we do and become even more involved than they would have been had this not been an option for them.

 

Marketing Materials

We are currently looking into creating custom bumper stickers for vehicles that read “Adopt Don’t Shop” to encourage people to adopt their next pet, as well as ones that say “Buckle Up Furry Ones.” We also hand out bandanas and dog treats with all of our adoptions.

 

Promotions Strategy

Rescue Purrfections is currently working with local organizations to spread awareness of what we do and encourage people to get involved with our mission. By doing this, we hope that more community members will come out to events that we put on in order to see the animals who are available for adoption or to foster an animal themselves.

Events

We host several annual events for different purposes: one is a 5K race where people participate in either walking or running to raise awareness of animal rescue; another is a brunch where we provide information to potential volunteers about our organization and ask them to sign up for a volunteer orientation. We also offer a VIP package at the brunch that includes a tour of the farm, lunch, and two “paw-tographs” from any of our animals in return for a minimum donation of $500.

In addition to these annual events, we also host events monthly for potential foster families to learn more about the benefits of fostering.

 

Digital Marketing Plan

Social Media

We post information on our Facebook page at least once daily and share with followers any requests for volunteers or donations that would be helpful for their specific situations. We ask people to share our posts with their friends to help raise awareness of our mission. We also feature some of the animals available for adoption on Facebook, as well as information about how they are doing in their new homes after being rescued by our organization.

We host a monthly “state of the shelter” podcast that features interviews with various staff members and supporters – each episode receives several hundred views through Facebook and another 100+ listens on iTunes.

Email Marketing

We send out monthly newsletters with information about upcoming events, what has been happening at the farm that month, and an update on our progress towards our overall goal of being a no-kill shelter. We ask for donations in every newsletter to help us reach our goal, and we also offer exclusive donor-only events as a way to thank those who support us.

 

Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy

Rescue Purrfections is working to bring all of our events online so that people who prefer to do things digitally can participate with the click of their fingers.

 

Financial Projections

Net Income Projections

For the current year, Rescue Purrfections is projecting a net income of $125,640. This includes anticipated revenue of $90,000 through adoption fees ($15 per pet) and monthly donations ($30), along with projected expenses totaling ($52,640).

Expected Future Financials (Projected Year 2 to 5)

For the next four years, we expect to break even on a monthly basis. This includes expenses of $26,000/month and revenue of $25,000/ month from adoption fees/donations.

In year 2, we will see an uptick in net income due to exponential growth in adoptions and donations. In years 3 and 4, we expect to see a similar increase in net income as in year 2. In year 5, we will begin to see annual increases of $5,000/month due to the opening of our new offsite location that doubles as an event center for holding fundraisers and other events.

Cash Flow Projections

For now, we are projecting $35,000 in capital expenditures that will be necessary to purchase additional cages and equipment for our main facility.

The financial projections provided by Rescue Purrfections provide valuable insight into how the nonprofit can continue to grow both its revenue and expenses without harming cash flow. While it might be nice to post profits each year, the realistic expectations provide the organization with enough financial security to stick around for many years to come.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete a solid nonprofit marketing plan, download our proven digital marketing plan template here.


 

Example #2- Meals for New York – a Nonprofit Meal Delivery for Seniors in New York, NY

Executive Summary

MNY provides affordable home-cooked meals to New Yorkers who want the benefits of fresh, organic ingredients without having to grocery shop or cook at home. We offer four different meal options so that seniors can find something that works for them.

Our business primarily has one target market – seniors aged 50 and older – but we also offer a discount to families who want to send healthy meals to their parents living in the city. In 2017, we saw an increase of 4% in our direct revenue from last year, primarily from the number of meal subscriptions people purchased.

 

Target Market Segments

The target market segment for Meals for New York (MNY) is elderly individuals who are at the age where they do not feel like cooking and would prefer to have someone else cook their meals for them. MNY also provides meals to seniors with specific dietary needs or restrictions, such as low salt or gluten-free meal delivery in NYC.

 

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Our unique selling proposition is the fact that we handle all of the cooking, preparation, and clean-up. We also make sure our clients receive healthy home-cooked meals as opposed to processed foods from a grocery store or restaurant.

 

Pricing and Positioning Strategy

MNY uses an open pricing structure with four options in order to provide meals for seniors who do not have a lot of money but still want the benefits of having delivered meals in New York:

  • $9.99 Per Meal – This covers our ingredients and fuel costs, which means we can make it possible for anyone who wants affordable meal delivery in NYC
  • $11.99 Per Meal – This price provides our clients with more food for their money
  • $13.99 Per Meal – This is the highest-end/premium meal plan that includes extras like delivery to Manhattan and cross-borough areas
  • 12 Meals For $120 – With this option, MNY covers any costs associated with grocery shopping or delivery of meals in NYC

 

Distribution Strategy

MNY uses a mix of traditional and online methods of distribution for our food delivery service in NYC, including:

  • Business-to-Business (B2B) – We provide meals to companies who want to give their employees access to healthy cafeteria options such as fresh salads or prepped vegetables paired with lean meat or tofu. We also have discounted rates for large orders.
  • Retail Locations – MNY has partnered with some local businesses in New York City that are interested in partnering with community organizations committed to providing healthy food options, including Toast Bakery Cafe on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Digital Distribution/Online Orders

MNY makes our meals available online so that customers can order them and simply pick them up in person if they do not live close to the delivery area.

 

Offers

MNY offers a variety of meal plans for seniors and is always looking to expand the number we offer, especially if we find partners who are willing to help us offset some of our costs.

 

Marketing Materials

MNY makes most of our marketing materials in-house through programs like Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud, which enable us to create templates and tailor them to specific events.

 

Promotions Strategy

The best promotions strategy for MNY is word of mouth from our customers because we focus heavily on making sure that our food is of the highest quality and stays affordable even with delivery fees factored in. When we do send out certain promotions, such as a free dessert or 10% off our catering menu, we spend a lot of time talking with seniors and listening to their feedback.

 

Digital Marketing Plan

Currently, we focus only on the digital marketing efforts we can do directly through our website and social media platforms. We also take advantage of promotions and discounts to get the word out about our food delivery service in NYC.

 

Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy

MNY has a plan in place to convert customers into meal subscribers once they sign up for the first time. We also work to retain our current clients by monitoring our level of service so that we are always providing the best possible experience for them.

MNY has been using social media as a way to grow its community of seniors interested in healthy meal delivery in NYC. We are also using our website to generate leads through the number of meal subscriptions people are signing up for online.

 

Financial Projections

MNY has been steadily growing as a company since it launched in January 2017, but the majority of its revenue comes from one-time purchases or non-meal promotions rather than meal plans. This is because we prioritize keeping our costs low so that we can price our meals affordably and maximize our capacity to donate unsold meals.

MNY has been growing steadily since it launched its meal delivery service in 2017, which means it is on track to meet or exceed the projections listed below:

  • Revenue growth of 20% for first six months of 2018
  • Gross profit margins of 40%
  • Net income at 10% of revenue
  • The customer acquisition cost of $9 in 2018 and a 5% decrease each year after.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV) is 10x the cost to acquire them
  • Profitable by year three with revenues reaching $500,000 in that time frame

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete a solid nonprofit marketing plan, download our proven digital marketing plan template here.


 

Example #3: The Land of Plenty – a Nonprofit Community Garden in Minneapolis, MI

Executive Summary

The Land of Plenty is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit community garden that offers low-cost gardening plots to its members so they can grow their own food. It also educates people about gardening, nutrition, cooking, and entrepreneurship through workshops, events, and education programs.

To improve its revenue and community outreach, Land of Plenty will invest in a digital marketing plan to attract new customers. It will also continue its expansion efforts and launch a referral program so that existing members can earn discounts for bringing new people on board.

In addition, Land of Plenty will aim to boost its revenue through a CSA share program. This will allow customers to pay up-front for a whole season of produce and have it delivered weekly.

 

Target Market Segments

Our target market segment is individuals with limited access to healthy foods, particularly in under-served communities. We also focus on people who want to learn how to grow their own food or expand their existing gardening skills.

 

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The land of Plenty is the only community garden in Minneapolis that offers affordable plots to its members so they can grow their own food for themselves and their families. It also educates people about gardening, nutrition, cooking, and entrepreneurship.

 

Pricing and Positioning Strategy

Our pricing strategy is based on the idea that people should be able to affordably grow their own food, which is why our annual memberships are as low as $20. We also do not turn anyone away based on his or her ability to pay, so even if someone cannot afford the full membership price, we work with them to find a solution that works for both parties.

 

Distribution Strategy

We distribute our products through a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program and through cooperative relationships with local grocery stores and restaurants.

 

Offers

The Land of Plenty offers individual and family memberships to help people grow their own food, as well as educational classes on gardening, cooking, and more.

 

Marketing Materials

The Land of Plenty has a website and Facebook page where people can learn more about the garden, its mission, and how individuals can get involved.

We use flyers, posters, and postcards to advertise our events. We also distribute them through local grocery stores and businesses in the community that support our community efforts.

 

Promotions Strategy

We host a number of events throughout the year, including workshops, cooking demonstrations, and volunteer days. We also have partnerships with local businesses to help them promote their products or services.

Annual Events
  • A gardening competition where members can enter their best-looking produce for a chance to win prizes like gift cards or produce baskets.
  • Our harvest festival is a day where members can come to the garden to collect their CSA shares and participate in fun activities.
  • A cooking competition where members can prepare dishes with produce from the garden and enter for a chance to win prizes.
  • We partner with the Garden of Eatin’ restaurant to host a fundraiser for our garden and share each other’s products.
Educational Workshops
  • Cooking demonstrations using produce from the garden
  • How-to workshops on growing specific plants or vegetables, like peppers or tomatoes
  • Introduction to gardening workshops for people who are interested in learning how to grow their own food

 

Digital Marketing Strategy

Social Media Outreach

We share information and updates about the garden on social media, like Facebook and Instagram. We also post articles related to gardening and healthy eating that we think our followers might be interested in sharing with their friends.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We make sure that our website and social media sites are simple and easy to navigate in order to attract the most visitors.

Email Marketing

We use email marketing to inform our supporters about events, workshops, classes, and volunteer opportunities. We also send them special offers on membership prices or CSA shares.

Advertising

We advertise through social media promotions where people can enter for a chance to win free produce from our garden.

 

Conversion, Referral, and Retention Strategy

We attract customers by offering affordable memberships and an opportunity to grow their own food. Some customers may be originally interested in attending our workshops or special events but join as annual members for easier access to the garden or greenhouse.

 

Financial Projections

The Land of Plenty is a nonprofit organization, so we rely on membership fees and donations from the community to keep us running.

Our financial projections show that we expect steady growth in our customer base as we continue to advertise and offer new programs.

In order to reach future goals, we need to raise more funds from the community so that we can improve our facilities and expand our programming.

The total operating expenses in 2018 are projected at $15,000, while revenue is expected to be $13,000.

Operational Expenses
  • $2,000 on labor (gardener and workshop instructors)
  • $500 on supplies (pots, tools, and seeds)
  • $1,200 for marketing materials (postcards, flyers, and newspaper ads)
  • $3,000 for utilities (water and electricity costs to run the greenhouse)
  • $3,000 on maintenance

In 2018, we expect to have expenses totaling $10,700 and revenue of $13,000. In 2019, our revenue will increase because more people are expected to become members in order to receive their weekly CSA shares.

Our total operational costs for 2019 are projected at $12,500 and revenue is expected to be $29,000.

First Year

Expenses

  • $7,800 on labor (gardener and workshop instructors)
  • $1,000 on supplies (pots, tools, and seeds)
  • $1,200 for marketing materials (postcards, flyers, and newspaper ads)
  • $3,000 for utilities (water and electricity costs to run the greenhouse)
  • $3,000 on maintenance

Revenue

  • $3,200 from membership fees
  • $1,800 from CSA shares

In its inaugural year, we expect to have expenses totaling $10,700 and revenue of $13,000.

Year Two

Expenses

  • $9,000 on labor (gardener and workshop instructors)
  • $1,000 on supplies (pots, tools, and seeds)
  • $1,200 for marketing materials (postcards, flyers, and newspaper ads)
  • $3,000 for utilities (water and electricity costs to run the greenhouse)
  • $3,000 on maintenance

Revenue

  • $5,500 from membership fees
  • $2,800 from CSA shares

In 2019, we expect to have expenses totaling $12,500 and revenue of $29,000.

 

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