3 Nonprofit Marketing Trends You Can’t Overlook in 2019


by Leann Alameda

As the New Year approaches, it is a perfect time for organizations to review their nonprofit marketing and communications strategies and determine what’s been most effective. And there’s no time like the present for a fresh, creative outlook. To strengthen your outreach, consider the trends and assess how you could best utilize those to reach your organization’s specific goals and needs, whether that’s raising awareness, being a thought-leader or increasing support and fundraising.

Here are three marketing trends that your organization should incorporate in 2019:

  1. Build a Storytelling Culture.

Today, storytelling is one of the most effective tools in your communications toolbox. People are hardwired to understand the world through stories. These stories create an emotional and deep connection to your mission because people remember stories even better than they remember facts-or even a well-crafted message. Consider how Jimmy Kimmel’s story of his son’s birth and health problems impacted and galvanized the public’s disapproval of the Republican-led plan to repeal the ACA.

Told consistently, stories remind your audience about what makes you unique and why your cause is the best choice for their donations and support. However, relying solely on the development or communications’ teams to generate stories can leave many great stories untold. Everyone in the nonprofit is communicating what the organization does, everyone is involved in its mission and its advocacy and, therefore, each person is a storyteller. By creating a storytelling culture, you can tap into those stories. And there are several benefits.

How do you create a storytelling culture? First, you want to have buy-in from the leadership. They can help ensure that everyone is involved and everyone follows through. Second, create a way to gather the stories. Have regular storytelling circles or meetings that encourage people from all parts of the organization to come together to share. This will not only help generate content, it is a wonderful way for everyone to learn what is happening in the organization, build collaboration and strengthen their storytelling skills. They’ll also get better at identifying good stories to bring forward. Third, develop a storybanking method-whether that’s a database or a folder-where all the stories are kept. Fourth, commit to a way to get those stories out. For example, share a new story regularly on the website or in the monthly newsletter.

A helpful resource with many tools and tips for nonprofits is Communications Network’s Storytelling for Good.

  1. Personalize Your Email Communications.

Today, one size does not fit all, and effective marketing is hyper-personalized. Customers want tailored content, and your donors are your nonprofit’s customers. You need to court, convince and close them. Customized content and optimizing their experiences with you will foster a deeper connection and, therefore, greater loyalty and support. Email is one of the most effective ways to do this. The first step is to segment your email lists. According to Hubspot, 39 percent of marketers who segmented their email lists had a higher open rate, and 28 percent experienced lower unsubscribe rates. Determine the best ways to segment your list and then develop the targeted content strategies for those groups.

  1. Make Video a Priority in Your Content Mix.

It’s projected that, by 2019, video will represent 80 percent of Internet traffic. People remember videos better than they remember written content. Videos are also more likely to go viral. The good news is the cost for video production is going down, and there are online tools available to create your own videos. Since social media doesn’t require polished pieces, recording short videos on your phone can be highly effective. Get a lavalier microphone to improve sound quality (Rode smartLav+ is a good option). There are also tools to help you get your videos into your social media channels. Though fairly new, experiment with Instagram’s IGTV, which could set you apart and be a great way to reach your audiences organically with longer-form video content.

By incorporating these trends into your 2019 communications plan, you can develop a winning outreach strategy. Great storytelling that’s personalized and delivered through diverse channels will make your nonprofit stand out, inspire your supporters and motivate others to join your mission.