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3 ways to empower your staff to expand your nonprofit marketing and save your budget

Nonprofit Fundraising
Engage & Change

[Photo: Project Water: an Engage & Change project]

We all want to develop raving fans of our organizations.

We want to introduce our nonprofits to new prospects, share our mission and our passion, and watch their eyes light up as they ask, “How can I help?”

We work really hard to make this happen as often as possible and on a very limited budget.

But sometimes our biggest fans are not sitting that far away.

Our biggest fans can often be found on our payroll. That’s right. I’m talking about the entire nonprofit staff.

But how often do we make an effort to work with our staff to provide them with the resources they need to be effective marketers of our organizations?

Inspired by Nancy Swartz over at Getting Attention!, I want to share three things you can do to turn the staff of your nonprofit into effective marketers and your biggest advocates.

But first, let’s talk about why we would even want to do this in the first place…

3 reasons to engage all staff in marketing and fundraising

Let’s start with the most obvious reason. They already work there.

This doesn’t involve a lengthy and expensive recruitment process.  You don’t need to find the budget space for additional personnel.

They already know a lot about the work of the organization and most are glad to help out in any way they can because they are proud to be working for your nonprofit and they know fundraising is essential to the health of the organization.

They are an existing human resource that can be leveraged to great effect and at very low cost.

Second, your staff has an existing network they can help you tap into.

They have private Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and LinkedIn accounts. They use these on a daily basis and it is a pretty sure bet they talk about their work, at least occasionally, on social media.

They also have regular face-to-face conversations about their work with friends and family.

With a little bit of training and some guidance on messaging you can help them turn members of their network into members of your community of support.

But the biggest reason why you should put effort into empowering your own staff to advocate, market, and promote your organization is because…

…they already are!

Your staff talks about your nonprofit all the time. Though research suggests they could use some help.

If they are already marketing on your behalf, you might as well make sure they do it well.

Why all-staff advocates are not effective…yet!

Let’s be honest for a second. Passion and enthusiasm are not enough to achieve effective marketing. There is a lot more to it than that.

Your staff is already a fan of your organization and they are already boasting and bragging on social media and in face-to-face conversations about the work you do…

But, they are not experts in marketing.

So when they explain the work of your nonprofit it can be confusing and uninspiring.

In their enthusiasm, they may have copied the logo from your website and pasted it over a selfie of them at your last event, skewing the logo and changing the color from blue to hot pink so it matched their shirt (Yes, I’ve seen this happen), rendering the logo unrecognizable.

Or maybe they spent a lot of time on social media talking up your organization, but so what!? It never leads to any new volunteers, members, or donors.

And now I’m telling you to encourage this behavior?

That’s right! Because you can turn your staff into powerful marketers of your organization.

It only takes a little training, some helpful guidelines, and regular check-ins to see how they’re doing and what additional support they need.

Mobilize this untapped resource to amplify the results of your nonprofit marketing without touching your budget.

Let’s take a look at the 3 things you can do to make this happen…


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Give them the nonprofit’s elevator pitch

When asked to explain what their nonprofit does, staff members often struggle to explain the work in a succinct and compelling way.

They may try to recite your mission statement or describe their role in the organization, but neither of these approaches provides a compelling description of the meaningful work of your nonprofit.

Luckily, this is easy to fix.

First, craft the perfect elevator pitch that describes your organization in a succinct and compelling way.

It can be done in as few as three sentences:

Who do you help? What do you help them do? How do you do it?

Then give this elevator pitch to the entire staff.

Consider putting it on a laminated card the staff can tack to their wall or keep in their wallet.

Explain that you are giving everyone this elevator pitch as a resource to assist them in explaining the work of your nonprofit. Tell them this is what they should say whenever anyone asks them what the organization does.

Tell them they do not have to memorize the elevator pitch, but they should know and understand the key points.

Then take the time to go through each sentence of the elevator pitch and explain what each sentence achieves and why you chose those specific words.

Usually, when you take the time to explain the marketing choices behind the language staff recognize the brilliance behind the elevator pitch and will stick to it because it solves a problem for them and makes them seem part of a pretty cool nonprofit.

Free the brand!

I know this is a sensitive topic.

The brand is sacred. It must be protected.

It must be kept out of the hands of non-comms lest it be manipulated, skewed, or worse, turned the wrong shade of blue and posted on social media for all the world to see.

I know. I get it. You’re right.

But maybe we can find a teensy-weensy way to compromise…just a small little bit.

The best way to prevent the manipulation of your brand is to give the staff a file that doesn’t need to be manipulated.

I recommend creating a social media-specific logo in PNG format exclusively for use by staff.

It is probably best to have just your logo though you might be able to get away with a tagline if it is short.

Make sure the size of your logo in this file is reduced down to a size that will fit all social media images.

I am not saying free the entire brand to all staff.

Just one tiny little PNG file that is already small enough to fit in all social media images.

They can simply copy & paste or upload the social media brand PNG file.

Explain to the team why protecting the integrity of your logo is so important and give them guidelines around when and how to use the brand for social media.

Give them the exact color of the logo in RBG, CMYK, and the color number. Tell them they should never change the color of the logo.

I’ve seen brand guidelines developed specifically for staff in an easy to print format. Each staff member received it as a 4×6 card and could easily refer to it when needed.

The card included information on fonts, logo sizes, colors, tagline options, and the back of the card had examples clearly showing acceptable and unacceptable use of the brand.

By providing a little training, a handy guide, and an explanation of the importance of your brand, I believe you will have few, if any, problems with this itty-bitty compromise.

And it will help get your brand in front of a lot more eyes! Which is good, right?

[Hint: The answer is ‘yes.’]

Lead capture

The ultimate goal of empowering your staff to be advocates and marketers of your organization is to generate more leads.

You want their efforts to result in more volunteers, members, and donors.

But to do that you have to give them the tools they need.

Make sure they have direct links they can share on social media that allow the network to “Like,” “Follow,” and “Connect” with your organization’s official social media accounts.

Also, make sure they are promoting and providing direct links to web pages that allow their network to subscribe to your email list, become a member, or make a donation.

All staff should have access to a digital file that houses all lead capture direct links.

Give them a quick briefer on crafting a compelling call to action (of just give them a list of options) and now they are fully prepared to be lead generating machines.

Putting it all together

To help staff efforts remain focused and to foster momentum, it is a good idea to develop and communicate marketing priorities for each month based on your own marketing plan.

For example, say this month you may want a big push for more Facebook followers, the month after that you want everyone to push for a big turnout at your coming fundraising event. After the event, you want to focus on increasing email subscribers, and then you want everyone to push for an increase in donations.

For each month’s specific staff marketing priority let your staff know your goals and that you want them all to help.

Provide them with the direct links, brand files, guidelines, and any suggested messaging for them to use based on the specific priority of the month.

Mobilizing the staff in the same direction as your own marketing will amplify results and generate more momentum, all without touching your under-sized marketing budget.

Now that’s working smart.

Keep doing good work,
Jeremy Signature



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