How to Make More of Your Nonprofit’s Anniversary

Pauline Bartel

Nonprofits need the best and that’s why we turn to Neon One’s ecosystem of partners for expert advice. Today we’re hearing from Pauline Bartel, who encourages us to take time to celebrate an overlooked marketing opportunity for your nonprofit – anniversaries!

Here’s a cause for celebration – your organization’s business anniversary! How will you celebrate? Celebrating your organization’s longevity with a promotional campaign is like throwing an anniversary party and getting some fabulous gifts:

  • Recognition of Your Achievements:

    Celebrating your anniversary allows you to herald what your organization has achieved over the years. You’ll win recognition for those accomplishments and spread awareness of your mission.

  • Stronger Key Relationships:

    Staff, volunteers, donors, the community, and others have made your success possible. An anniversary is a perfect occasion to acknowledge those contributions. You’ll stimulate a sense of pride in your supporters for what they’ve helped you achieve and reinforce their roles as organizational advocates.

  • Opportunities to Share Your Future Vision:

    Celebrating your business anniversary allows you to look toward the years ahead. You’ll share your organization’s future vision with key stakeholders and set the agenda for achievements to come.

Be Strategic

Whether you’re marking a milestone anniversary – one ending in 0 or 5 – or an in-between year, be strategic in harnessing your business anniversary’s promotional power. That means using the anniversary as a showcase for your organization’s offerings. You do this by:

  • Creating an anniversary-year branding message
  • Developing a business anniversary strategic plan with goals and metrics
  • Launching integrated marketing and public relations strategies that engage stakeholders and drive revenue

Brand the Anniversary

Wedding anniversaries are often celebrated according to a traditional list of anniversary symbols. Today, a new twist on that time-honored idea has been created just for business anniversaries. “The Bartel Years™” and “The Bartel Years 200™” are rosters of symbols that inspire business anniversary ideas for year 1 through year 200. For example, Chocolate represents the 7th business anniversary year; Neon represents the 66th business anniversary year and Titanium represents the 95th business anniversary year. Use the anniversary year number and/or its symbol to create your anniversary-year branding message.

Develop Your Plan

You can celebrate your organization’s business anniversary on a single day, or you can celebrate all year. Launching a 12-month promotional campaign allows you to maximize the anniversary’s promotional power.

Developing a strategic business anniversary promotional campaign takes time and thought. Devote at least three months for planning a single-day celebration and at least nine months for planning a year-long celebration. Waiting too long squanders the promotional opportunities the anniversary offers. Make it great! Don’t procrastinate.

Launch Your Tactics

Launch a range of tactics to transform business anniversary merrymaking into business anniversary money making, including:

  • Outreach campaigns to supporters that increase revenue
  • Appreciation campaigns for stakeholders that build stronger relationships
  • Publicity campaigns that tell the organization’s story and generate free print and broadcast publicity
  • Custom content such as blog posts, case statements and special reports that inform, educate and advance your mission
  • Social media campaigns that connect to and deepen relationships with stakeholders
  • Legacy campaigns that celebrate your organization’s history and become part of the organization’s brand moving into the future

One Great Campaign

The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region in upstate New York connects “socially concerned individuals and institutions to build a healthier local economy and community by making low-cost flexible loans to social and micro-entrepreneurs.” For its 30th anniversary, the organization wished to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, attract new investors and donors and spread awareness of its programs and services.

The organization created the anniversary-year branding message “Celebrating 30 Years of Strengthening Communities, Changing Lives” and launched a year-long promotional campaign. Tactics included:

  • Identifying Community Loan Fund success stories in each of its three decades, choosing 12 and highlighting them in a wall calendar that was sent to key stakeholders
  • Creating a case statement that shared the Community Loan Fund’s history, achievements and future vision for use in attracting major investors and donors
  • Hosting a 30th-anniversary gala celebration to honor key stakeholders, celebrate past accomplishments and share the organization’s future vision

The integrated marketing, public relations, and media relations business anniversary campaign yielded big results for the Community Loan Fund:

  • A $30,000 check from a new, small-business owner/investor
  • A $1.75 million grant from the U.S. Treasury, most of which was earmarked for a three-year lending-capital campaign with the goal of raising $6 million
  • Digital media coverage of the Treasury grant and the Community Loan Fund’s programs and services in the Albany area’s only business weekly, resulting in more than 20,000 positive media impressions.

Whether your organization is approaching its 10th, 25th or 150th business anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity that a business anniversary celebration offers: Recognition of your achievements, stronger key relationships and ability to share your future vision. Such fabulous gifts make every business anniversary a cause for celebration.

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