Marketing Your Nonprofit Association (when things are totally weird)

Associations rely on membership dues to pay bills. They need to market the value of those dues. Nonprofit associations are no exception.

How do nonprofit associations market their value with less stress and more joy…during a global pandemic that has them working their tails off to serve nonprofits in their states and advocate their hearts out on behalf of the sector as a whole?!

That’s what I asked Brandy Strand of Utah Nonprofits Association when I had her on the Marketing for Good podcast.

Brandy had some terrific insights (and is a pint-sized joy bomb to boot!). I paired her insights with research on trends in association marketing and here are the two things I’d recommend nonprofit associations focus on to boost their marketing efforts:

#1: Put Out Responsive, Flexible Programming

One of the most striking things about my conversation with Brandy was how in tune they are with their members’ needs. They survey them regularly and get real-time feedback in a variety of ways. This means they can adapt their programming and make members happy.

When you’re thinking about content–especially things like webinars which in the past may have often only been available if someone showed up live–think about how flexible you can make it. Record things so folks can soak it up when it fits their schedule. This will delight members in a good way…and, you guessed it…get them talking about you.

Brandy and her team are doing this, getting very positive feedback, and also building out an entire resource library that will serve their members for years to come.

Course-correcting takes effort, yes. But it’ll pay off in multiple ways as you’ll see in #2.

#2: Fuel Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Right now, we are relying more than ever on trusted peers and colleagues for advice. If your programming is responding to members’ needs, they will be delighted! It’s tough sledding these days so we’re even more likely to talk about something delightful because it’s a break from the monotony and chaos of working from home during a global pandemic.

Word-of-mouth marketing is FREE MARKETING.

Make it easy for folks to talk you up. Now’s not the time for messaging that is clever, coy, or cute. Stick to the point. If someone has to think too hard to get your point, they’ll tap out rather than tune it.

Keep your messaging straight-forward and the Calls to Action (CTAs) in your marketing as clear as possible.

Examples: For advocacy, “Call Your Representative Today”. For a webinar, “Register Now”. And, of course, make it clear that although you’d love folks to join you live, it’ll be recorded so they’ll be able to watch the webinar whenever it strikes their fancy.

(When you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear that Brandy and I had different definitions for CTAs, which is why you always have to be careful when using acronyms!)

Also, make it easy to share your content. Have links/icons to all your social media handles. Don’t make anyone forage. We’re all too tired to forage (unless it’s to the back of the freezer for some huckleberry ice cream).

By the way, these tips apply to all nonprofits right now. Just swap out donors for members in #1, follow all the advice in #2, and you’ll be ahead of the curve.

For more marketing inspiration and motivation, listen to the Marketing for Good podcast wherever you enjoy your podcasts!

Brandy Strand, Director of Community Relationships, Utah Nonprofits Association…4’10” of nonprofit awesomeness!

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