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Four Simple Ways to Make Relationship Marketing Work for Your Nonprofit

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Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction, and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with stakeholders by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests, and by promoting open communication.

The essence of non-profit marketing is based on relationship marketing, as it emphasizes donor and volunteer retention and satisfaction, helping the organization accomplish their mission and continue their activities.

In other words, relationship marketing can be defined by the ability of a nonprofit to create an emotional connection between its cause and its donors and volunteers.  The core of a successful marketing campaign for any nonprofit organization lies in its ability to convince donors and volunteers that their cause is worth their attention, time, and money.

Given the share number of nonprofits in the U.S., it’s imperative that marketers and developers understand how competitive the market is, and how important it is for them to ‘sell their cause’ to current and prospective stakeholders in a way that outshines the competition.

Millennials, a very important segment of our population that will soon replace baby boomers, are entering their professional lives highly indebted with school loans. It’s important to realize that their priorities are different, and they’re better educated and savvier about their spending than the previous generation.  In order to attract and convert this group to support your cause, you’ll need to do a much better job at relationship marketing. 

Here are four simple, yet effective, ways to connect and engage current and new supporters to your cause:

  • Networking – If you’re not seen, you’re not remembered, goes the old adage. Attending events and sharing your cause in person with prospective donors and volunteers is crucial for a nonprofit marketer or development professional.  The personal connection you can establish with another person when speaking about the work of your organization, and how it positively affects the communities it serves, is unmatched by any other marketing activity.  The tone of your voice, your gestures, and your personal stories can make a much stronger impact, and help convert new stakeholders who otherwise would not see your cause through the same lens you’re able to expose them to, in an in-person exchange.
  • Social Media – Because you can’t be everywhere at the same time, social media channels offer nonprofit organizations with an opportunity to engage their stakeholders, who in turn can share their view and support for your mission with their friends and followers. Social media channels can be used to share news and updates about the organization, alert volunteers of new opportunities and efforts, share images and videos about their work, and, most importantly, keep stakeholders abreast of their donations and volunteer assistance make an impact in the community.
  • Quarterly Reporting – Most people are willing to donate and help those in need.  A way to engage and build a trustworthy relationship between a nonprofit and it stakeholders is through transparency. Anyone donating time or money to a cause wants the assurance that their efforts are being used responsibly to achieve the goals and mission of the organization. By submitting a quarterly report to your stakeholders via a newsletter, not only do you have the opportunity to keep transparency in check, but you also have a great opportunity to share other information, and even ask for more help when necessary.
  • Recognition – It might be a bigger deal for one person to find a couple of hours to volunteer, or donate a small amount, than someone else (with deeper pockets) to write a substantial check.  One mistake most nonprofits make is to not properly recognize volunteers and those who make smaller contributions.  By making everyone who’s committed to your cause feel special and indispensable, you’re developing a strong and lasting bond with all of your stakeholders.

Your nonprofit may be doing amazing work, worthy of exposure and support.  However, if you can’t connect with your stakeholders on an emotional level, backed by data that supports the impact your work has on society, your mission will remain a secret to many people. Relationship marketing is essential to the success of your nonprofit, so make it a priority.

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