Archive for December, 2020

5 Must-Have Strategies for Your 2021 Marketing Plan

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

Expand your organization’s awareness and engagement in the new year.

If you’re apprehensive to read a blog about essentials for your organization’s 2021 marketing plan, I don’t blame you. 2020 has proven that no amount of planning can adequately prepare us for what could come in life. However, challenges make people and organizations stronger, more inventive and aware. In fact, Oprah Winfrey once said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom,” which could be a candidate for 2021’s mantra. So, as nonprofit marketers, we must ask ourselves how to best apply the practices and ideas undertaken this year to strengthen our marketing strategies for 2021 that build mission awareness and energize engagement.

Here are five must-have strategies that can help expand your organization’s awareness and engagement in the new year:

1. Focus on high-quality content

The value of content online has become apparent in the nonprofit space in recent years. In fact, 65% of marketers, many nonprofits, say they’ve increased their production of content in the last year to expand their digital footprint. However, this means that nonprofit content is crowded, and simply developing it will prove ineffective. Content must now be high-quality content with an associated marketing goal.
This could be:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Ranking well on search engines
  • Improving click-through rates
  • Generating leads
  • Getting social shares

Your organization’s high quality content shows that your mission is alive, has perspective and values community. These are all characteristics of an organization that people want to support in 2021.

2. Segment email campaigns

Email marketing continues to grow in importance for organizations; however, the focus is no longer on monthly newsletters. Sending general emails to your entire database is ineffective in breaking through the hundreds of emails your supporters get daily.

Each email your organization sends should be personally relevant to the supporter receiving it. Email segmentation management within your donor or customer database is critical to creating relevant campaigns. Begin segmenting by focusing on the most important groups to the success of your mission. It might make sense to start with groups like monthly donors, first-time donors or lapsed donors. Group lists can also be segmented by demographics or behaviors (i.e. opened an email campaign).

As COVID-19 has limited financial abilities, people will support institutions they’re already familiar with, and whom they know can make a difference. So, it’s important to use your data to segment groups and present the right message to a defined group of supporters in order to capitalize on the tendency.

3. Regularly schedule virtual events

2020 was the year of virtual events, but 2021 will require them as well. This is not only to ensure people’s safety and confidence, but because they’ve proven to be effective means for meaningful, low-cost communication and engagement.

Virtual experiences and events should have a permanent place in your marketing plan, and the list of engagement possibilities that leverage our new virtual behaviors are endless.
Some ideas include:

  • Receive organizational updates from leadership
  • Witness testimony from clients and community partners
  • Tour facilities or receive a first-hand account of programs
  • Attend special programming
  • And more…

What ideas can your organization create to have quarterly, or even monthly, virtual events and experiences that engage supporters in your mission?

4. Build on your social media fundraising

In 2020, more time has been spent online than ever before, and people representing every demographic are becoming more savvy with digital tools. Communication tools like virtual meeting platforms and social media networks account for much of this time.

With this trend, 2021 should focus on building your organization’s online—and specifically social media fundraising—presence. It’s a great time to enable supporters to donate to your mission without leaving the platform. Supporters on Facebook can easily set up peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns benefiting your organization when it has fully registered and set up its fundraising tools as well.
To get started with Facebook fundraising, visit:

5. Create more opportunities for video storytelling

As you’ve probably heard before: nonprofit organizations have the ability to be incredible visual storytellers, producing videos that evoke emotional and personal appeals, when they dedicate time for planning and use adequate production resources for their efforts. Well, that statement continues to be true, and 2020 proved that great video storytelling will keep supporters engaged and compel them to act.

Video is expected to make up 82% of all online traffic in 2021, so it’s crucial that your organization find visually rich ways to share your work and impact with supporters. Get creative, be authentic and find room in your budget to hire a professional videographer.

Tip: If planned well, a large amount of footage that accommodates multiple narratives can be captured in just one day of shooting.

How did 2020 shape, or reshape, your vision for how your organization communicates with its stakeholders? We’re interested in what key take-aways from your organization’s 2020 communications and outreach efforts that you’ll put into practice in 2021. Email them to We’ll share the list of key take-aways we receive early in 2021.

Donor-Focused Story Ideas for 2020

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By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director

Four elements of your story that tell donors how your organization became even stronger in 2020.

Regardless of why your organization exists, 2020 has been a challenging year. As you consider how to summarize the past year to your donor community through year-end appeals, letters, emails, phone calls or even annual reports, consider changing the narrative from describing only a year filled with challenges to one that also helped your organization become even stronger.

Consider sharing one or all of the following with your donor community:

1) Reflect on lessons learned, but focus on how it’s made your impact stronger. 

Your organization undoubtedly learned important lessons in 2020. Maybe there were blind spots in your mission or programs that neglected certain needs of your clients; or, maybe you over, or under, communicated with your donors as critical changes and challenges occurred. Whatever the lessons learned, use them to let donors know your organization created new solutions to further strengthen your mission.

It’s important not to let 2020 “hijack” your organization’s ongoing purpose, vision and mission — be sure to not only share what your organization has become, but more importantly, what it is becoming.

2) Recognize and celebrate long-time supporters and first-time donors that make your organization’s work possible — especially through a pandemic.  

The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 in late March and the economic turmoil that followed left nonprofit leaders scrambling. For most organizations, client calls for help were exploding while at the same time, stay-at-home orders created challenges to serve those in need. Some organizations were forced to curtail, or even pause, some of the services and programs for clients. Many organizations were faced with a disruption in their fund development activities — key events canceled, postponed or done differently or virtually; donors that lost their jobs; funders being inundated with funding requests. For many, it was hard to know where to turn.

In our work, we’ve heard stories of long-time donors increasing their gifts or making a special gift during the pandemic. We’ve also heard of family foundations, churches and individuals becoming first-time donors to help nonprofits respond to the needs of those they serve. Make it a point to celebrate long-time and first-time donors and share the impact their support made to your organization’s story. And be sure to invite them to continue to be part of your story in the years to come.

3) Communicate how COVID-19 influenced new ways of doing your work and revealed old ways that no longer work.

Over the past seven months leaders have embraced the new things COVID-19 has made them consider to their programs, services, staff, locations and funding. Be sure to share those stories and the impact they are making to your operations and to those you serve. But equally important, share stories about things in your organization that COVID-19 has helped reveal the need for changing, or even discontinuing.

4) Share your organization’s strategic priorities for 2021. 

The next few months offer a chance for your organization to affirm or modify its strategic priorities in light of the “new normal” COVID-19 has presented. Affirm your organization’s priorities and share any modifications to those priorities with your staff, board and donor community so they can reset and re-energize themselves about the important work still-to-come.

How are you planning on communicating with your donor community in the next few months? Share your thoughts to