If you have a local non-profit that serve local needs, then using local media make sense. Here is how to do it well.
We believe that a website, email blasts, and regular social media posts are usually the 3 best donor outreach pieces to begin with. After an organization has a method to create those 3 things on an ongoing basis, the next step it to move on to direct mail (newsletters with a reply envelope), Pay-Per-Click ads (utilizing the Google Grant is ideal), and then podcasting (especially if you can also broadcast it on local radio). Are these the best options for you?
A good website and email marketing strategy are critical before you start with anything else. Print Ads, newsletters, podcasts, Google Ads, and social media should all point back to your website!
However, local media advertising sales people can be really convincing. (I used to be of them.) Let me talk with you about what actually works for nonprofits when it comes to these local options. Here are the typical audiences for those media types:
Local Media – Print: Typical print media choices in most markets
Let’s start out with print. Our experience is that a regular print piece can be helpful if it is written well, it is targeted to the right audience, it is designed well, and if your organization already has a good website and email strategy.
Keep in mind, that an ad with tiny print listing out all your services will usually get ignored. Effective print advertisements need to be large, they need faces of people (not work trucks or office buildings), and ad copy that appeals to a donor in about 7 words. YOU NEED TO WRITE YOUR AD COPY CAREFULLY!
In most local media markets, there are these 3 print media types.
- The local printed Newspaper. People who still get paper delivery are typically much older and growing older every day. These readers tend to be baby boomers and upper middle class. There is a good percentage of male readers. Ads can be effective AS LONG ARE THE TYPE IS REALLY BIG, there is a lot of white space, and it is accompanied by a regular column or press release in the paper highlighting a story of a changed life or your vision for the future. Always submit a picture with your press release.
- Neighborhood coupon mailer. These booklets often go out in the 10’s of thousands and they are usually picked up by bargain hunters. I do not see a way to utilize these mailers effectively for donor development. They could be helpful to communicate your services to your local community. For example: a local pregnancy center highlighting its free pregnancy tests or a food pantry inviting people for a free food basket.
- Neighborhood magazine. Our experience is that these target homeowners who are typically female in very specific higher-end neighborhoods (with very specific and easily identifiable needs). They are typically effective for people offering higher-end residential services. If your organization has a large percentage of female donors, then consider taking out a local magazine ad AS LONG ARE THE TYPE IS REALLY BIG, there is a lot of white space, and it is accompanied by a regular column or press release in the magazine highlighting a story of a changed life or your vision for the future. Beautiful pictures are especially important when using magazines.
- Printed Yellow Pages. I can’t imagine a situation where a yellow pages ad would generate donor dollars in this current. You are always better off to spend these resources on website SEO and Pay-Per-Click ads on Google or Facebook.
If you have a little more budget to spend, you may consider using a press release service. Many advertising agencies have access to a news wire that send your press release to dozens of media outlets at the same time.
Local Media – Broadcast: Radio Advertising
Local radio can also be an effective medium, if it is used properly. The daily news and the local information the radio provides still makes it still widely listened to – especially with religious, conservative-leaning adults over the age of 40.
Radio creates theater of the mind. Listing off services without emotion gets lost in the noise.
Sample Script #1
Here is a sample script that will not likely get very good results:
YOU CAN HELP GIVE COMFORT TO HURTING CHILDREN BY MAKING A YEAR-END DONATION TO [NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION]. THE ARIZONA FOSTER TAX CREDIT PROGRAM OFFERS A DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR DEDUCTIBLE UP TO ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR MARRIED COUPLE AND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR SINGLES. FIND OUT MORE AT WWW.___________.ORG.
This was a real ad. It was mostly about a tax deduction and lacked enough length or drama to captivate the attention of listeners to the degree that they would remember the ad, look up the website, and give money.
Sample Script #2
Here is a sample script from a campaign that did capture people’s attention:
IN AN IRISH ACCENT:
MAY YOUR POCKETS BE HEAVY AND YOUR HEART BE LIGHT,
MAY GOOD LUCK PURSUE YOU EACH MORNING AND NIGHT.
LUCK IS TRULY A MATTER OF PREPARATION MEETING
OPPORTUNITY. THAT’S WHY THE [nonprofit] THRIFT STORE IS SHARING
THEIR OWN POT OF GOLD AT THE ST. PADDY’S WEEKEND
BLOWOUT SALE’! COME SCOUR THE MANY LUCKY-FINDS,
BARGAINS GALORE AND EVERYTHING GREEN – ALL AT FIFTY
PERCENT OFF. TWO DAYS ONLY – MARCH THIRTEENTH AND
FOURTEENTH. YOU CAN SPREAD THAT GOOD FORTUNE AND
CHANGE A LIFE BY DONATING YOUR TREASURES. TO IMPACT
FAMILIES IN POVERTY HERE LOCALLY. THE [nonprofit] THRIFT STORE.
WHERE COMPASSION IS ALWAYS IN FASHION.
This ad was memorable, it stood out from other ads on the radio, it was long enough to be heard and felt, and had a clear call to action. This campaign generated hundreds of shoppers for this thrift store over that weekend.
Creating an experience with sound effects, storytelling and word pictures can create a radio spot that is more effective than television (or streaming services) at a fraction of the price.
YOU WILL NEED TO SCRIPT THE AD CAREFULLY!
Account executives are usually overworked and radio producers are often working for multiple stations as well as doubling as on-air talent. It is typically account executives or producers who get tasked with writing ad copy. They just want to make the sale and get it on their air. You’ll have to insist on an engaging and creative script or they will write whatever is easiest to write.
There are 3 different radio types that are common in most markets.
- Political Talk Radio is radio with active listeners. It is not just music in the background (like the easy listening station). Talk radio listeners turn it up and listen to it passionately. These stations are typically political, right-leaning and political in nature. Their average listener is usually male and over 55. Oragization with products that appeal to older, conservative men often are successful with talk radio.
- NPR is similar demographically, but leans to the left politically and has a larger female audience.
- The religious music station also has a similar audience, but it also tends to have more female listeners and the spots on these stations are usually only effective for organizations with the same religious values as the listening audience.
- Contemporary Country is widely listened to and is wildly popular. Most are surprised to learn that most country listeners are mostly female. 65% of country radio listeners are 35–55-year-old females. They are listening in their cars and if your organization appeals to a middle-aged female donor (like an adoption agency or pregnancy center), country radio could be a great fit.
- The top 40 or Adult Contemporary station also has a mostly female audience. It is largely moms in the minivans who is too distracted to bother with hooking up the phone to the Bluetooth. She likes the music, the kids like the music. Good enough…. Let’s go to soccer practice. Family-oriented nonprofit organizations do well with these stations. Specifically, this could be a great resource to use to invite people to a church but it might not be the best platform to try to raise funds from older donors.
Local Media – SEO: Just a note about social media, websites, and SEO
Social media is highly effective and easy to track if it is used regularly and correctly. Developing an authoritative website with good SEO generates organic search results. Search engine traffic is a major sales funnel for nearly every nonprofit we talk with.
A good social media and SEO team using proper programming, content marketing (content on websites), and paid social media buys zero-in on a target audience quite effectively. A great website helps convert sales as well. We will talk about website content and social media extensively later in this guide.
A Sample Community Pregnancy Center Strategy
So based on this data, let’s say you’re opening a new Community Pregnancy Center. First, get the basics done: a good logo and brand identity with a good website and email marketing strategy. A pregnancy center has a pretty clear client (low-income female 18-38). Donors will tend to be women who are religious, upper-income, and over 50. You would probably want to look at these media services:
Create ads with an offer for a free pregnancy test, free parenting classes or free baby supplies
- Social media posts 4 times a week and ads
- Radio spots on the Adult Contemporary or top 40 radio station
- Coupon mailer highlighting for free services
- Great signage at your clinic location
- Speaking engagements in local churches and community gatherings
- Regular emails and printed newsletters highlighting stories of changed lives, a vision for a better future and updates on the figureheads of the organization.
- Write up press releases in local magazine and newspaper. Work to schedule live interviews on local radio or influential podcasts.