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Jill Pfeiffer: Marketing For Nonprofits

October 18, 2021

Jill Pfeiffer: Marketing For Nonprofits

Jill Pfeiffer: Marketing For Nonprofits

Developing marketing strategies for any business can be challenging. Directing those strategies during the pandemic made for some unique pivots in those strategies. For a nonprofit, marketing during a pandemic must be carefully thought out and executed to ensure they receive the donations and funding they need to achieve their goals.

Jill Pfeiffer has reached her target audience and maintained the level of donations needed for the YWCA Madison. She navigated the pandemic by utilizing social media and other digital avenues to meet the nonprofit’s goals. 

This week’s Rediscover Marketing takes you into the world of nonprofit marketing. Jill Pfeiffer shares her insights and tips on marketing strategies and how crucial it is to care for your marketing team. 

Who is Jill Pfeiffer?

Jill Pfeiffer refers to herself as a longtime nonprofit professional. Having spent most of her career in the nonprofit sector, Jill has devoted her professional life to empowering others, especially youth and families. She has spent the last 25 years dedicating her life to organizations that empower people and create a more equitable world.

Jill majored in Art with a concentration in graphic design. After a year and a half doing design work, Jill realized that sitting behind a computer all day wasn’t the life she wanted. As a people person, she began tutoring youth and found real joy there. Soon after, she found herself in the world of nonprofit youth work and from there she and Ly Nguyen started Oasis for Girls. A nonprofit that is a youth leadership, technology, education, and arts program for young women in San Francisco, which still exists 21 years later.

After moving to Madison, Jill moved into development, fundraising, and marketing for nonprofits. With her love of working with and serving youth and families and passion towards racial justice, she began her journey at the YWCA Madison more than two years ago, where she is the Development and Marketing Director.

YWCA Madison is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. “The way we pursue this commitment is by seeking justice over charity, empowerment over enabling. It is instilled in everything that we do; It propels how we do our work.”

YWCA Madison was created in 1906 by a group of women at the Women’s Club in Madison. In 1908, it became a formal organization and, by 1909, became affiliated with the National Board of the YWCA in New York. Today they continue their mission to eliminate racism and empower women. 

Marketing trends in media

There is no question that we are inundated with advertisements everywhere we look. For a marketer to find unique avenues to get an organization’s message out, they need to develop marketing strategies that will stand out.

Jill feels we are overrun with so much mental clutter when it comes to advertising. Whether it is tv commercials or being stopped outside the store to sign up for some type of program, this is even more true when it comes to email, “I'm just deleting emails and there are very few (non-work emails) that I actually open.” Jill said. 

When it comes to traditional advertising like commercials, they don’t seem as effective because, given a choice, people will put their attention somewhere else Jill shares. For example, when a commercial comes on a streaming service, everyone picks up their phones to start scrolling. Because of this, she feels that tv commercials and emails are losing their efficacy.  

Marketing in a nonprofit

The pandemic has affected businesses in different ways. Organizations that rely on fundraising had to come up with creative solutions to achieve the fundraising goals. For Jill and the YWCA Madison staff, building relationships is key to success in fundraising. At a time when we couldn’t meet face to face with supporters, this meant shifting to video updates, short emails pointing to our blog, and social media posts.


Because of the pandemic, Jill realized (even more so) the importance of personal wellness among her team members. “I think the understanding that work-life balance is really important,” Jill shared. An organization needs to be more flexible with its team. Burnout is a real thing, and when there is burnout, there is a costly staff turnover. So it's really important that we show up for our staff, honor their need for rest and wellness, and recharging Jill clearly defines.

Because relationships are the foundation in fundraising, prioritizing wellness is critical to a nonprofit’s success. This has been evident during the pandemic. An example of this is that families with children at home could work from home rather than stress about finding childcare. Allowing flexibility for your team will ensure they will want to stay with the organization. “The studies show that the longer you are working at an organization, the more dollars you will raise,” Jill said.

Productivity tools

Utilizing productivity tools in your marketing team will save time and money. Jill has implemented migration to a database software called Bloomerang. It is a database software program that has functions like ready-made lists to reach out donors and community members. For example, there is a specific list for first-time donors, so instead of manually creating that query in our old database, it is streamlined into one place with one click, which saves a lot of time, Jill explained.

While migrating to the new program may be stressful initially, its work will pay off in the long run. By tackling a project like this, even when it’s not convenient, you are setting up your organization for the future. Implementing tools like this aids a nonprofit in marketing and fundraising for years to come.

Tips for nonprofit marketers

Because the pandemic has changed how we do things, it is important to pivot your nonprofit to meet the changing times. Jill shares some great advice on how you can achieve this. 

  • Show Understanding

    Life has changed for all of us. No matter what industry we are in, we need to keep other people in mind. Jill suggests that when you reach out to others, be considerate about what may be happening in their lives. What distractions might they be having? Consider asking if this is a good time to talk.

    Keeping that in mind, try to remember that when calling for donations. If times are hard, it’s OK to acknowledge it.

  • Open communication

    Open communication is vital whether in an organization or dealing with people outside of it.  Jill says when she talks to her kids about their own communication, she always says, “it's not just about getting the words out of your mouth.It's about those words landing to be heard.” Jill says as marketers, we oftentimes want to cross things off the list and just say it's done without thinking about the best timing for the message to be received.

  • Keep it simple

    Keeping your message simple is even more important right now. Everyone is going through their own issues, so keep that in mind when strategizing your message. So I think it's like understanding what the audience is going through at the time, really considering the timing and keeping it simple, Jill adds.

Navigating the world of nonprofit marketing may be challenging but doable. Jill and her team at the YWCA Madison have not only navigated it but achieved the goals they set while still supporting those in need. 

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