Nonprofit Marketing, Messaging and Differentiation: How Do You Tell Your Best Story? - Updated!

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | October 2019

The best part of working for a nonprofit organization is the satisfaction you take in the great work you do. You work long hours, often doing the jobs of more than one person, to achieve the mission of your organization.

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Sometimes, though, you’re so engrossed in the day-to-day operations of your organization that you know it almost too well. It can be overwhelming as you attempt to include everything on your nonprofit website, all the ins and outs of your:

  • Mission statement
  • History
  • Strategic plan
  • Funding Campaigns
  • Programs
  • Services
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Publications

The most meaningful information can get lost in the shuffle as you try to communicate every aspect of your work to potential donors, volunteers, and the greater community.
 
You may need an outside perspective in order to see the work you do more clearly. Third party interviews are an excellent way to accomplish this because it's easier for an outsider to tease out what's important.

A third party can interview you, your colleagues, your volunteers, your clients, and your funders to get a complete and accurate picture of your organization and its impact on the community. Video can even be incorporated as a tool to make your website tell a powerful and interactive story.
 
Ultimately, it may not be up to you or your colleagues to communicate the story of your organization. Because those you serve are at the heart of the work you do, their words are the ones that resonate the most with others looking for services, as well as potential volunteers and donors.

A third party interview ensures that those being interviewed are completely honest in their responses - it can be difficult for people to give you anything less than a glowing review when you’re sitting in front of them, and while glowing reviews make us feel good, they don’t typically help us improve and clarify our message. A third party can encourage illuminating answers to specifically targeted questions, such as:

  • How have the services your organization provides specifically helped individual clients? 
  • Why do community members donate their valuable time to your organization?
  • Why do donors and funders choose to fund your organization when there are so many worthy organizations to choose from? 
  • What is special about the work your organization does and how you do it?
Once a clearer picture of your work is painted by your stakeholders, it becomes easier to communicate that picture to:
  • Those you serve and those you might serve.
  • Those who volunteer and those who might volunteer.
  • Those who fund your agency and those who might fund your agency. 

The question now becomes: how do you do this most effectively? 

When it comes down to it, your good work in the community is your product. And the best way to market your product is to provide your current and potential customers (service recipients, volunteers, funders, and donors) with simple, effective, and easy-to-navigate information on your website. This is accomplished through differentiation, making sure the right information is clear to the right people. 

  • For example, when a potential client accesses your website, is it immediately apparent how you can specifically serve them, how you have served others (and how effective it’s been), and how they should proceed with obtaining that service? 
  • When someone is thinking of donating to your cause, is it clear how your work impacts the community (with specific stories for a more personal connection), how donor dollars would help, and how to quickly and conveniently donate those dollars? 

Making sure you understand the work you do through the eyes of your constituents is key to effective marketing through your nonprofit website. A third party can help you with the interviews and website analysis you need to help you sort through and streamline all of the facets of your mission statement, your services and programs (and the success stories that they’ve generated), as well as any other information you need to strategically communicate to those who can best use it.
 
A clear and concise web presence is a powerful tool that gives you the best possible chance of effectively reaching the most people who you can help and who can help you as your nonprofit organization continues to grow and thrive.

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Topics: Nonprofit Help, Digital Marketing

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