Turn Your Members into Your Biggest Fans

Inbound marketing is about creating content your audience adores. Our friends at HubSpot call it lovable marketing. We think nonprofits have the best outlet for creating lovable marketing, and want to explore how nonprofits with members can turn their membership base into their biggest advocates.

We have worked with nonprofits in the past that experienced a disconnect in their membership base and their nonprofit status. Their services for membership traditionally had lost their nonprofit flare, so mining their membership for donations was a tough ask. Others had a hard time differentiating that the membership dues to cover operational costs were not the same as donations.  How can inbound marketing help? The number one goal in these cases you can achieve with inbound marketing for nonprofits is education.

Educate Your Members

In addition to retaining members by providing content that aids them in their interests (for example the Y sending health and wellness tips each month to those who participate in group exercise classes), nonprofits can take a small snippet of space in their marketing pieces to cross-educate on their goodwill. Examples include:

  • If you send a monthly e-newsletter about programs and services, add a featured story section that highlights a recipient.
  • Include a call-to-action for members to read more about how you help the community. Lead them to your blog where you have more opportunity to engage and convert members to donors. Read more about attracting leads through blogging.
  • When signing members up, include an add-on feature that gives them to option to donate to your cause. This not only immediately lets members know you are bigger than membership, but it can also increase your new donor base. Those donors can be segmented into a separate list for appropriate follow up educational content.
  • Let members know to follow you on social media channels for facility or program updates, and mix in your cause messaging to help educate.

Nurture Your Members and Identify Potential Donors

Depending on your type of programs and/or services, there can be tons more opportunity to opt your members in to an educational workflow. By utilizing marketing automation software, such asHubSpot, you will capture valuable information in understanding who is worthwhile for your financial development office to personally follow up with.

The key is to create a lead scoring system within your marketing automation software that will process the data necessary to identify potential donors.  Prior to creating an educational workflow, your marketing and financial development teams should meet to determine what characteristics make up a donor. Inbound marketing is like dating. You don’t want to come on too strong too soon, yet you don’t want to make the poor girl wait forever. There’s a cadence and timing that may require some trial and error, but your teams will soon find their rhythm.  If a member opens every email, downloads one white paper, and watches our campaign video, go for it. If they are nonresponsive, keep them in the workflow until you see change. If no one is responsive, tweak your workflow. The wonderful part of a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, is you have the data you need to identify why your efforts are working or not working, and to make adjustments as needed to produce results.

Inspire Your Own Member Team

If your nonprofit giving campaign requires face-to-face asking, inspire your members to form their own campaign team. Those members that you have spent time educating understand the cause and are likely to want to step in and help.  Plus, they should have some pretty good talking points by now. Create a fun campaign on social media to join the team and provide any assets for download within your blog. If you have enough campaigns, form a few teams and create an awesome competition.

If your members have time constraints, they can still help you promote your campaign. Provide Pinterest posts, Twitter hashtags or stats to be shared from your blog. Once the barrier of education is out of the way, your membership base should become your loudest voice. Enable and encourage them to do so, and it’s a win-win.