Whether your next event is an auction fundraiser or peer-to-peer marathon, you can craft a compelling story about your mission, and don’t fret if you don’t know the best ways to tell your narrative just yet. You’re in the right place! We at Meyer Partners are professional fundraising consultants and have answered the following questions in this guide:
- What are the elements of an effective nonprofit narrative?
- Which channels should you use in your event marketing?
- How can you align your multichannel marketing approach with your nonprofit narrative?
Whether you’re marketing your nonprofit event through email, social media, or direct mail, crafting an effective narrative is essential. Keep reading to learn more about how you can do so.
1. What are the elements of an effective nonprofit narrative?
At its core, your nonprofit narrative represents your mission and goals. However, it’s not enough to just add your mission statement to all of your marketing materials. You have to consider how your audience will respond to each marketing material you create and build a story that centers around their reactions and priorities.
When supporters can envision their impact within your nonprofit narrative, then they’re more likely to respond if your organization calls for help. Within your event marketing strategy, ensure it’s explicitly clear the offer of how each gift can make a difference.
For instance, you might say, “For every $300 raised at our Annual Fundraising Auction, you provide a family of four with groceries for a month.” When supporters see this offer, they know exactly how their attendance at your auction will help your constituents.
In particular, it’s recommended to consider the three “R’s” of storytelling:
- Your stories must Resonate with donors. The key to telling a story that resonates is to tell a true story. When you include specific and real details (like the direct impact of a gift) your story will pull at supporters’ heartstrings and get them to care about your cause.
- Your stories must be Relevant to the donor’s values. To ensure that donors connect to your mission, you need to tell a story that impacts things that matter to them. You can do this by putting the donor directly into your nonprofit narrative, reminding them exactly why they care about your cause. And, when you describe the impact of your event, make sure to position your supporters as the “hero.”
- Your stories must convey Respect for the donor. Your donors are some of the most important people to your mission. Without their support, you wouldn’t be able to meet any of your goals and further your mission. As you conduct your event marketing campaign, the language you use within your nonprofit narrative should be friendly, conversational, passionate, and authentic to your mission and goals.
When you establish all of these components, it’s much easier to launch a focused marketing campaign for your upcoming nonprofit event. Now, let’s dive into the marketing channels you might use.
2. Which different channels should you use in your event marketing?
Today, modern marketing comes at us from nearly every direction. From just one company, we might get an email newsletter promoting a recent sale, social media ads showcasing a new product, and website blog posts on recent news impacting the company’s product line. In fact, brands with a multichannel presence make it easier for 72% of consumers to stay connected.
For your nonprofit event, taking a multichannel marketing approach will help you create additional touchpoints with your supporters, reaching as many people as possible. You can also use your communication channels together to lead supporters to take your targeted action—signing up for your event!
Here are the most common marketing channels you’ll likely use and how to promote your nonprofit’s narrative on each:
- Direct mail – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that direct mail is dead! In fact, with the internet being saturated with so much online content, some supporters will be much more likely to open a direct mail appeal than one of your other digital approaches. Using direct mail can provide a more personal touch and be helpful in building those important donor relationships. Direct mail also gives your nonprofit the space to write out your narrative, and supporters might be inclined to hold onto a physical letter that tells a compelling story. Remember to provide donors with the opportunity to make a gift on the reply slip even if they cannot attend the event. The event might not fit into their schedule, but with a strong offer it should inspire donors to still want to support the mission and mail in a gift.
- Nonprofit website – This is the centralized hub of all of your online engagements. Your website is likely the first place a person looks when they want to learn more about your mission and is an integral step of the donor journey. It’s where supporters go to give, register for events, catch up on news, and more! As the home to your nonprofit’s history and mission, your website allows you to present your nonprofit’s narrative in full, complete with pictures of your constituents being helped and volunteers in action. Consider creating anecdotes or an impact page to share stories from those you’ve helped to inspire emotional connections in your supporters.
- Email – Email marketing is perfect for your supporters who want regular updates on your organization and mission. With email, you can be creative with content types and link back to your nonprofit website easily. Use capabilities like donor segmentation and automated data inputting (like for names) to take your marketing a step forward with more targeted content. Take note of which campaigns supporters have contributed to, and follow up with an email sharing the impact of their donation with a story about how they helped one of your constituents.
- Social media – Because of its casual nature and shareability, social media has proved to be a valuable tool when it comes to marketing. Specifically, taking insight from Double the Donation, “Content marketing, mainly through blogging and social media posts, represents an important opportunity for organizations to engage with their communities and grow their online visibility.” Emotional appeals also tend to do well on social media websites due to evoking empathy, and a particularly well-told narrative can get shared around beyond your core support base.
For your event marketing strategy, make sure to always lead your audience back to your registration page. Within your email and social media content, it’s easy to include a link to your nonprofit site. For direct mail, you can include a QR code or a simple URL that supporters can quickly scan with a mobile phone or type into a web browser.
3. How can you align your multichannel marketing approach with your nonprofit narrative?
Now that you have the essential elements of your nonprofit narrative laid out and know which marketing channels you’ll use, it’s time to put all of these pieces together and promote your upcoming event.
Before you do so, here are a couple of strategies and tips to keep in mind:
- Ensure your marketing content is as inclusive and accessible as possible. You can make your marketing materials more inclusive (for both digital and physical print) by telling your story in multiple languages and ensuring the text’s color contrast and font size is readable.
- Use the same calls to action. For an event marketing campaign, you want to lead supporters to your event registration page. Make sure that your nonprofit narrative supports this effort. If you contact the same supporter through multiple channels, each call to action can help build on the last, encouraging them to register for your event.
- Be mindful of your wording and the pace of your narrative storytelling. When you share details and updates in consecutive messages you create a sense of progress and can more accurately build your narrative. Additionally, you don’t want to use the exact same phrasing across every platform, as many of your supporters likely follow your nonprofit on multiple channels.
- Don’t forget to thank your attendees. Automate sending a confirmation email as soon as someone signs up for your event and an appreciation email after the event wraps up. Thanking your donors is an essential part of any marketing and engagement strategy. Need inspiration? Explore these templates to find donor thank you letters that fit your organization and mission. Don’t forget to further your nonprofit’s narrative by communicating your supporters’ impact when showing your appreciation.
- Use data to learn more about your supporters. You should track data throughout all of your outreach efforts and supporter engagements. Use your fundraising tools to track whether emails are opened, how many likes a social media post receives, and other marketing metrics based on your chosen communication channels. You can use this data to learn more about your supporters and the types of strategies they best respond to.
- Provide stewardship updates after the event. Follow up with donors after the event as a stewardship opportunity to provide updates on the impact of their gift and to continue building a long-term partnership with donors.
Whether you’re planning a nonprofit event, a capital campaign, or a volunteer program, effective marketing is necessary for increased attendance and donations. Throughout it all, incorporate your cohesive nonprofit narrative and use it to inspire your supporters to register for your upcoming events.
The more marketing strategies you use to promote your events, the more you’ll learn about your audience and the best ways to talk about your nonprofit’s mission. Remember, it’s valuable to create multiple touchpoints with each supporter through various communication channels, and keep your core narrative at the center of all your engagements.
Bonnie brings to her role at Meyer Partners more than 30 years of fundraising experience, with a special emphasis on multimedia approaches to new donor acquisition and development. Her expertise encompasses several facets of direct response fundraising, including copywriting and creative direction, market research, strategic planning, and comprehensive results analysis.