Challenges. Every business has them. But for nonprofits, their challenges are especially staggering.
Nonprofits need to raise money AND convince donors, employees, beneficiaries, and volunteers their mission is worth it.
- 77% believe everyone can make a difference by supporting causes, and
- 69% of the population gives to charity.
But with limited budget and resources, how do nonprofits market their capital campaigns effectively?
The short answer – they can’t do it alone.
They need a marketing agency as a partner. Agencies help attract, engage, and rally donors. And most of all, agencies can do the heavy lifting when it comes to executing campaign marketing strategies.
Non-Profit Case Study - The Nexus Campaign
Northeast Community College, based in Norfolk, Nebraska, sought capital for the development of the Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence on their campus.
Their goal is to expand learning opportunities for students while emphasizing agriculture science, research, and workforce and community development.
Here are the top challenges Northeast faced and how we helped them overcome them.
Challenge 1: Shaping a Non-Profit Campaign’s Story
Like every non-profit, Northeast Community College had a vision.
They wanted the Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence to be a focal point to educate farm and ranch scientists with hands-on experience to meet the demands of workforce development and agriculture production.
But for Northeast’s target audience what does this vision look like? And why does it matter to donors?
Solution: Develop a Concrete Brand Experience
For Northeast to accomplish their Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence vision, they needed the support and engagement of donors and their community. They needed a consistent, compelling message — a memorable brand experience.
That’s where Strategy came in.
We began with several brainstorming sessions with their mission and target audience at the forefront.
To drive Northeast’s vision, we explored lots of ideas for names and taglines. Eventually, we landed on the campaign name – Nexus.
Nexus means a connection linking two or more things, a connected group, or a central place.
This spoke to everything Northeast wanted to do with their capital campaign.
Nexus was an “ah ha” moment.
It was the perfect definition to shape Northeast’s campaign brand. Here’s how it began to take form in their campaign’s logo:
Looks compelling, right? That’s because all elements are working together for a greater impact. When you start to unpack the logo design, you’ll discover:
- Colors – the blue and green represent water and agriculture which complements their goal for the Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence.
- Name – Notice how the NE is on one side while “US” is on the other? Here’s the hidden message:
- NE references Nebraska’s initials, where Northeast is located.
- US references the United States and Northeast's goal of influencing their reach beyond Nebraska.
- X represents bringing it all together at the Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence.
- Tagline – Sums up the entire campaign while telling the target audience exactly what to do with the campaign – invest in it.
With the brand identity and logo chosen, we started to explore the different ways an audience could experience them.
Here are a few of the digital, interactive, and print marketing formats we came up with:
- Story flyers
But before we could dive deeper, there was another obstacle we had to help Northeast Community College overcome.
Challenge 2: Unifying Communications for Greater Impact
Non-profit organizations are often supported by an executive or advisory team who bring insight and expertise to their cause.
This is also true for Northeast.
The Nexus Campaign consists of several leadership teams...board members, community members, alumni, campaign leaders, teachers, and more.
Each member brought unique perspective and ways of presenting the campaign. For example, some individuals preferred saying "Agriculture" as "Ag," while other individuals thought that the community partnership should be highlighted more.
With so many viewpoints – Northeast needed a unified approach for their messaging strategy.
Solution: Bridge the Gap with a Message Framework
To streamline messaging efforts, we created a Message Framework.
The Message Framework serves as a strategic foundation to explore different themes and message priorities across multiple channels.
Here’s an example of how it looks:
The Message Framework is a win for both Northeast and us.
It provides a structure to deliver consistent messages across collaborative teams, and multiple mediums. Strategy executed content marketing strategies with key messages while providing their leadership team with a helpful internal resource.
Challenge 3: Navigating the Digital Marketing Strategy
While many nonprofits are busy focusing on fundraising efforts, they may not be able to keep up with the evolving digital marketing landscape.
In fact, 66% of charities are worried they will miss out on opportunities for digital fundraising.
Which is why a marketing agency partnership helps.
For Northeast Community College to connect to donors and increase their campaign’s visibility, they needed to take their fundraising efforts online.
Solution: Go Digital with Fundraising Efforts
Digital marketing allows nonprofit organizations to easily cast vision for their mission, while building brand awareness.
Previously, Northeast team members scrambled before meetings to go through their large PowerPoint to edit their presentation based on donor interest.
It wasn’t easy and took up their valuable time. Northeast needed a simpler way of presenting their big ideas.
So, to solve this problem, we developed a custom branded Prezi.
It was challenging to bring together a significant amount of content into an organized cohesive presentation format.
Take a look at our early stages of preparation:
Eventually, our design, development and content teams took all these ideas and turned them into a flexible Prezi that worked for various presentation scenarios.
Prezi brings presentations to life.
Prezi is beneficial for nonprofits in several ways:
- Easy to edit, repurpose, and visualize content in an impactful, engaging way
- Allows different paths to present ideas based on donor’s interest
- Presentation can be as short or as long as necessary
- Works online and offline
- Breaks traditional presentation barriers
Notice how the presentation includes their brand colors? This gives Northeast a professional branding experience across all channels.
While the presentation works well in person, after the presentation, donors may be ready for a next step, like going to a website.
A website increases Northeast’s brand visibility while educating donors with helpful information and different ways to get involved.
We put ourselves in the shoes of the donors and created wireframes to map out their journey. The wireframes shaped the content structure for different levels of the campaign. So no matter what page the potential donor is on, they learn a different element of the campaign.
Check out our wireframes early on in the process:
And the outcome:
Northeast’s website extends the donor experience and helps reinforce consistent messages across all channels.
A website is great for nonprofits because it:
- Presents information in an engaging manner
- Is easy for users to make donation pledges
- Provides quick newsletter signups for them to continue the conversation after guests leave the website
Take a look yourself. Explore the Nexus Campaign by viewing their website: https://agwaternexus.com
Another great marketing asset for nonprofits is videos. They’re visually compelling and engage viewers. Videos show how the work you do positively affects the world and invites them to see your vision in action.
For Northeast, we crafted videos which reflect what they stand for and how the work they’ve done impacts community members, students, teachers, farmers, graduates, and more.
We captured several videos to demonstrate their unique value ad. View them here.
Bonus Challenge: Meeting Deadlines
Doing more with less is a challenge in itself, but when there’s a deadline to meet – it’s a little overwhelming.
You’ve got meetings to attend, marketing to develop, finances to prepare, event planning, and more.
How will you raise enough awareness and money in time? For Northeast, they needed to launch their campaign quickly in order to start receiving donations for their goal of raising $50 million.
It’s quite the undertaking. Fortunately, they had Strategy on their team.
Partner with Strategy for Results
One of the main advantages of partnering with a marketing agency is strategy. We listen to your ideas, goals, and vision and help integrate them into actionable next steps.
While Northeast was busy with their priorities, we were able to accomplish a variety of deliverables: message framework, logo, website, videos, photography, story flyers, brochures, booklet, email template, and more, all within a period of 4 months.
Strategy provided Northeast a range of design, marketing, and technical skills as well as providing valuable industry insights to help them compete effectively and achieve their goals.
Check out more of the work we accomplished for Northeast Community College on our portfolio.
If you’re looking for nonprofit marketing help, connect with us. We’ve helped numerous organizations overcome their marketing strategy challenges. And we’re ready to help you, too!