5 Ways Nonprofits Can Harness Community Support Through Local Advertising

01.28.2021 Cox Media

While a slim majority of industries have seen increased advertising and marketing spending since the start of the pandemic, the nonprofit world has taken a sharply different course: Research suggests that just 17 percent of nonprofit organizations have increased their marketing spending during the pandemic, compared to an average of 52 percent across other industries.

Part of this is attributed to the loss of in-person events that drive significant donations and revenue for these nonprofit organizations. But the overall decline in spending is also being driven by nonprofit efforts to get more creative and efficient in their marketing, leveraging new technology and opportunities to make up for spending shortfalls by driving more ROI.

These efforts underscore the important role marketing and advertising plays in the nonprofit industry, and they also highlight the industry’s willingness to experiment with new strategies that might deliver value.

If you’re a nonprofit serving your community during this tumultuous time, your access to resources and support is more important than ever. Here are some ways you can build awareness and support for your community services.

1. Set New Goals in Response to New Challenges

For many nonprofits, the sea change brought by the pandemic has forced those organizations to reconsider the goals of their advertising and marketing. These goals can differ dramatically from one organization to the next: While a local food shelf may see a rising need for volunteers to manage distribution, nonprofits providing free legal counsel or other pro bono services may simply need an influx of cash—especially to fund surging demand for these resources.

Your marketing team should monitor the nonprofit’s evolving role in serving people through the pandemic, and revise these goals to stay aligned with these areas of need. New, relevant goals will help you craft messaging and launch campaigns that support these efforts.

2. Target Ads to Your Core Segments of Support

Looking for ROI-efficient ways to maintain a marketing and advertising strategy? Some nonprofits have adapted their targeting strategy to focus on the base of supporters that provides the greatest financial reward for these efforts.

For some nonprofits, this might mean reallocating geotargeted campaigns to focus on a tighter geographic area where their services are most relevant—and where donations and other support typically come from. It might also mean focusing on the demographics or other data points that reflect strong support for your mission.

Depending on the type of work you do, and the makeup of your existing donors and supporters, this might mean targeting a more affluent audience, or displaying ads to the individuals most likely to participate in much-needed volunteer drives. With your advertising and marketing goals established, you can identify the audience segments most likely to serve these goals, and focus your resources on driving participation.

3. Emphasize COVID-19 Response in Your Messaging

Nonprofits providing essential services and support during the COVID-19 pandemic should highlight this crucial role in all of their messaging. The immediacy and urgency of these services can be one of your strongest angles when making a case for the support of potential donors, volunteers and other individuals who are seeking ways to support individuals groups within their community.

Highlight specific services undertaken, and the results of that support in affecting change in your community. You should also highlight the ongoing need for your services in your community. Food shelters can point to the number of people suffering from food insecurity, while organizations that source and distribute clothing and other essential needs can create messaging and content that showcases these efforts, including relevant photos, video, and testimonies from individuals directly benefiting from this service.

4. Repurpose Content to Extend Marketing ROI

Public events and gatherings aren’t just a popular way to stir up passion and advocacy around your nonprofit’s mission. They’re also a source of valuable content that can be featured in social media posts, cable TV ads, digital video, and even traditional marketing materials such as pamphlets and posters.

The pandemic may limit these opportunities for some organizations, and create challenges when producing new content to engage your base of support. Your organization can overcome these limitations by looking back into your existing content and media assets to find content that can be reused or re-edited to serve today’s marketing messaging. Even when crafting new messaging and ads to respond to today’s organizational needs, content from the past can be repurposed to cut down on production costs generate more ROI for your efforts.

5. Seek Out Local Government Grants to Boost Service & Visibility

In some communities across the country, local governments are offering grants to nonprofits that are addressing areas of need created by COVID-19. Other grant opportunities may be available to provide support for organizations that provide a valued service in that community, and to help it withstand the economic effects of the pandemic.

Many nonprofits are active in seeking out this financial support, and any grants your organization does receive should be highlighted in social media, email newsletters, blog posts, and other media. These grants validate your service in the community and can trigger additional donations from supporters who recognize the value of these services. Along with this added visibility, the funds from these grants may support services and initiatives that might otherwise be restricted or even cut altogether—and the financial relief can give your organization more confidence in maintaining or increasing investments into marketing and advertising strategy.

Raise the ceiling for these marketing and advertising efforts by working with a digital advertising partner to set campaign goals, craft relevant messaging, and execute a strategy that delivers all-important ROI for your organization. Contact us today to get started.

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