BUSTING GHOSTS + MARKETING MYTHS THIS SPOOKY SEASON
It’s October, which means spooky season is upon us. But instead of busting ghosts this October, we’re busting some pervasive marketing myths that are impacting the nonprofit sector. So, whether you’re into Halloween or more of a harvest festival kind of person, buckle up because we’re about to share some tricks and treats when it comes to nonprofit marketing.
MYTH 1: WE SHOULDN’T ASK FOR MONEY AT THE END OF THE YEAR BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT.
We’re starting off with this one because not only is it spooky season – it’s end-of-year season as well! And while there’s certainly a time to try to be different from the crowd, this isn’t it. Here are a few reasons why you should still ask for money at EOY, even though everyone else is:
- On average, nonprofits raise a quarter of their annual revenue in December.
- 10% of all giving happens in the last THREE days of the year.
- People who have already given at another point during the year will often give again at the end of the year.
So, while it’s true that everyone else is asking for money, there’s a good reason for that. Don’t miss out.
MYTH 2: WE DON’T NEED DIGITAL MARKETING BECAUSE OUR DONORS ARE OLDER (AND CONVERSELY, WE DON’T NEED SNAIL MAIL BECAUSE OUR DONORS ARE YOUNGER).
Here’s the truth – no matter who your audience is, it’s important to reach them multiple times and in multiple ways. Snail mail is not just a thing of the past, nor is digital marketing the only way of the future. Having both is the winning combination for serving your audience well.
Another level to this myth – we often see clients wary of looking too flashy in communicating with their supporters. But impressions matter, and you want donors to know they’re investing in an organization that represents itself excellently and takes itself seriously. Having quality designed materials, informative digital content and a strong website presence are not luxuries but valuable tools that engage, inform and move people to action.
MYTH 3: A WELL-RUN NONPROFIT MEANS LOW OVERHEAD COSTS.
The word “overhead” is often taboo in nonprofit culture, but it doesn’t need to be. Spending money on administrative and fundraising costs (which include taking care of staff!) is necessary to thrive as a nonprofit and is a sign of good stewardship rather than wastefulness. Trying to keep overhead low often causes boards and leaders to avoid investing in important marketing and fundraising efforts that could add capacity, increase support and contribute to a healthier nonprofit overall.
One Forbes article says it this way: “The desirability of having low administrative costs is an unfortunate myth that continues to circulate within the nonprofit industry. This dangerous belief has led numerous nonprofits to under-invest in their administrative processes. This, in turn, affects how well an organization can perform and often compromises its chance for long-term sustainability.”
This article goes on to remind us that while financial stewardship, accountability and transparency are important, the effectiveness and vitality of a nonprofit’s programs are directly related to how well its overhead costs are met.
In a nutshell? No money, no mission.
A FEW RAPID-FIRE FUNDRAISING MYTHS…
For this last part, we couldn’t pick just one! So, we’ve grouped together some of the biggest myths we’ve heard when it comes to fundraising communications.
“Board members don’t have a role in marketing and fundraising.”
False. In fact, this should be considered a part of their “job description” when they sign up to be on the board. Fundraising is arguably one of the biggest and most important roles a board can play.
“Volunteers already give so much, we can’t also ask them to give financially.”
We tend to separate volunteers and donors into two categories when really, volunteers are often the most poised to make a monetary donation. They have the privilege of experiencing the work firsthand – why would we not invite them to go deeper with their investment?
“Companies and foundations have so much money to give away, they have to fund us.”
Sure, lots of them have the money, but if you don’t make the hard ask, cultivate the relationships and put in the work, there’s no reason for them to give any of that money to you. Furthermore, their giving priorities might not align with your mission so you shouldn’t bank on these funds magically coming to you.
“People don’t give during an election year.”
Not true. In fact, research shows that charitable giving actually increased in eight of the last nine presidential election years in the U.S.
“Nonprofits can’t earn a profit.”
Contrary to what the word “nonprofit” implies, nonprofits actually can and should aim to earn a profit for the future sustainability of their work.
Now that we’ve busted these myths together, we hope they don’t haunt you anymore. Drop us a line if you want to continue the conversation or to share other common marketing myths you’ve heard!
-Hannah Jessen Conway, Client Success Manager