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Common Sense Nonprofit Marketing
in Tough Times

by Joan Marcus

In today's tough economy, you need to make your marketing dollars work harder and smarter to keep your nonprofit thriving and growing.

Challenging? Yes. Possible? Absolutely.

Here are five common sense marketing techniques that will help you use your marketing dollars wisely:

  1. Know your key supporters. Regardless of the state of the economy, your key supporters should be the starting point for all marketing strategies. Know your key donors, volunteers and the movers and shakers in your community who make a difference in your organization. If you don't know what is driving their support, find out. Increase their dedication by keeping them up to date on your successes and by enlisting their help as ambassadors for your organization. That type of word-of-mouth marketing is priceless.

  2. Cultivate new supporters. While current supporters are critical to the success of your organization, you need to continually cultivate new donors and volunteers. Board members can play an important role in forging these relationships. Once the contact is made, have a plan in place to stay in touch.

  3. Focus your message on your key publics. Marketing is all about your key publics - giving donors, volunteers and other key individuals reasons to support your organization. Unfortunately, too many organizations spend time and money focusing on programs, statistics and facts rather than on making a personal connection. Let people know how your organization is making a difference. Zero in on the critical needs you address, your solution and your unique reason for existing.

  4. Sharpen your marketing tools. Now is a key time to look at how well your marketing tools are working. Does your website offer information your donors and volunteers want? Do you give them a reason to come back frequently by constantly refreshing copy and adding to it? Is your electronic newsletter just a calendar of events and a plea for contributions or do you make a personal connection by focusing on results and individual success stories?

  5. Use low-cost marketing techniques to enhance your budget. There are many low-cost marketing techniques that yield big results if you are willing to use them consistently. When you network, follow up immediately with new contacts. Send an email or set up a meeting to build the relationship. If you don't follow up, networking is worthless. Send a hand-written thank-you note when you meet with a prospect. Keep your database updated so you can stay in touch with your contacts.

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About the Author:

Joan B. Marcus, president of Joan B. Marcus Communications LLC, helps small businesses and nonprofit organizations achieve their goals by developing and delivering their marketing message with impact. Joan is a pro in all forms of writing -- from website copy to grant proposals, brochures to electronic newsletters. Contact Joan Marcus at

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