Totally Uncorked on Marketing

by Elaine Fogel

7 Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

Updated, November 2016

cartoon lady with resolution list


What do you plan to do differently in the new year? Are there marketing channels or tactics you want to use that you haven’t used previously, or haven’t used in a while?

Before you get into the nitty-gritty, here are seven marketing resolutions to consider:

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The Number 1 Way to Woo Corporate Sponsors

Updated: November 2016

hands holding a "sponsors" speech bubble

So, you want to sign up corporate sponsors for your next event, program, venue, or conference? Let’s take a look at the typical sponsorship kit and examine its contents.

  1. Cover letter
  2. Information about the event/program/venue/organization
  3. Sponsorship levels and description of benefits
  4. List of previous sponsors/photos of previous event
  5. Contact information
  6. Sponsorship form with payment options

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10 Tips for Creating Professional Nonprofit Annual Reports

Updated: November 2016

annual report cover

What does your organization’s annual report say about your nonprofit’s programs, services, and mission? Although developing and producing an annual report is a “job and a half,” the publication is so much more than a financial or accountability tool. It makes a valuable marketing piece for major and planned giving donor kits, foundation and grant applications, and media kits.

A professionally produced report is also beneficial for acquiring corporate sponsors and partners that want to connect their brand names with sophisticated organizations.

Here are 10 tips for creating professional annual reports:

1. Tell stories that demonstrate your success.

People like reading stories. Short, feel-good stories can tell more about your nonprofit than boring numbers and graphs.

2. Use photo treatment to accompany stories.

A great image stands out and captures a reader’s attention, especially if it is up close and evokes emotion. Sorry, but your annual report isn’t the place to use shots taken by employees or volunteers – unless they’re professional photographers or take professional quality photos. It’s worth investing in a professional photographer for a proper photo shoot.

3. Avoid cheesy clip art or typical stock photos.

Unless your mission focuses on children or animals, do not use clip art. Even then, use quality illustrations.

Avoid generic stock images that everyone else uses. People will recognize them. Besides, it’s challenging to find diverse images that truly represent your work.

4. Talk to an external audience.

Avoid using jargon, acronyms, and internal language that can bore outsiders. Many of your readers may not know as much about your organization as you wished they did. This is an opportunity to enlighten and excite them about your mission.

5. Include a brief financial statement or pie chart.

Show supporters where your revenue goes. Typical annual report readers aren’t that interested in more than a graphic representation of your organization’s financial health.

If they want more detailed information, make your Form 990 (for U.S.) or audited financial statement (for Canada) available on your website on the same page as your annual report.

6. Check your thank-you lists for accuracy – more than once.donor list

If supporters have specified how they want their names to appear, honor those wishes. Check that all titles and credentials are correct. Using “Mr.” or “Mrs.” as titles for all names is burdensome and very formal.

First and last names suffice, unless otherwise requested. If the annual report includes company names, ask how those names should appear when you first establish the relationship so the database reflects them accurately.

If you did not receive any direction, and your print deadline is looming, check the companies’ websites to locate their official corporate names. Online, these are usually in the “About Us” section, or for public companies, with the “Investor Relations” information.

7. Don’t forget white space in the design.

If you cram the pages with too much written content, your audience will lose interest.

8. Don’t place bilingual copy on the same page.

Annual reports produced in two languages should have separate versions. Romance languages in particular, run longer than English does, so translated copy will not fill the same amount of space. In addition, it’s difficult for readers’ eyes to jump around the page trying to find their language of choice.

As an alternative, print the annual report with one language on one side of the center saddle stitch, and the other language on the other, facing the other way. This way, readers cannot view one language predominant over the other.

Another cost-effective option is to print the annual report in the language for which the demand is greatest, and make the alternate language version available in PDF format on the website. If you’re not planning to print it at all, post both versions on your site.

9. Use professionals whenever possible.

A poorly designed or written annual report will not represent your brand well. Hire a professional writer and designer if you can afford it. Add the expense to your budget in advance to ensure you get the best results.

10. Print the report and post it.

Today, many organizations prefer to post their reports in PDF online. It’s an excellent way to distribute it to others throughout the year and saves money. But, don’t underestimate the value of printed copies for special events and media, sponsorship, planned giving, and major donor kits.

To make your PDF version more interactive and engaging, embed links in it to web pages, videos, and other content, and then track results.

A professional annual report is time-intensive to create and produce, but it can also be an extremely valuable marketing tool throughout the year. Done well, it can give your nonprofit credibility and a professional appeal while sending a message that its mission is worth supporting.

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