How big is your marketing budget?
Let me guess: Not big enough.
Many grassroots nonprofits struggle with marketing. They want a big brand, but have little time or money to invest.
Sadly, many of these groups ignore the best tool in the marketing toolbox – and it’s free.
Word of mouth!
While your marketing options have expanded in the digital age, the most effective strategy remains the oldest and cheapest.
That’s right – the most effective marketing strategy is one person talking to another.
The more “ambassadors” who initiate conversations about your work, the more potential donors you can reach in a personal way.
Board members are brand ambassadors
How many of your board members make an effort to talk about your organization? Do they bring up your nonprofit in conversations with friends, colleagues, and co-workers?
How about your volunteers and staff? Given the opportunity, will they mention your work?
Yes, a lot of informal marketing happens via social media, which is terrific. But nothing beats an old-fashioned, one-on-one conversation.
Ambassador training — easy and essential
To help you train your board to become better ambassadors, we’re sharing two simple exercises.
The first exercise, What Drew You to This Work? creates an opportunity to reflect on, and discuss, why your organization’s mission is important to you and your board.
The second, The Case, Simplified, is a writing exercise that will help you talk about your work in a compelling way.
Together, they take about an hour. Wouldn’t it be helpful to invest an hour to help your board members improve their ambassador skills?
Ambassadors are fundraisers, money or no money
A client recently recruited me to lead a board fundraising training, with the caveat that most of her trustees didn’t believe they needed to learn about fundraising.
We invited the board chair to help plan the training, and discussed different ways to focus the content. When I suggested that we treat this as an ambassador training, the chair jumped in. “We really need that,” he said. “We’re not very good at talking about our organization.”
So we built the agenda to develop the nonprofit’s message, improve listening skills, and engage in meaningful conversations. We didn’t train people how to ask for money because:
- They weren’t ready for that, and
- Having meaningful conversations about your organization’s mission is a great way to identify and cultivate potential donors. In other words, it’s still fundraising, ask or no ask.
Motivate your ambassadors – include a contest
Try this. Create personalized business cards for each board member, with his or her name and the organization’s contact information. On the back, include the mission statement or perhaps a few bullets describing the impact of your work.
These business cards are great conversation starters. When a friend asks, “What have you been doing?” pull one out, hand it over, and say, “Well, I’m on the board of….”
Give each trustee a specific number – say, 50 or 100 – and propose a challenge. “The first board member to give away 50 cards gets dinner for two at your favorite restaurant…our treat. Talk about our work and you will be rewarded.
“On your mark…get set…go!”
Create some buzz – get people talking
Do you want a broader base of support? Wouldn’t it be great if more people understood and appreciated your work?
You can build that base and educate potential donors, one conversation at a time.
It all begins by training your team of outreach ambassadors, starting with your board.