Local Nonprofit Highlight — San Antonio Zulu Association

Nonprofits and foundations are passionate at heart and, frankly, don’t always take advantage of natural marketing opportunities or learnings. Why? Generally, they focus on serving their cause and its population and then fundraising becomes a necessary evil. Hoping to help nonprofits shift their mindset to running like a business, Warren Laine-Naida and I are writing, “,” which is the second in our series of books and will be available in July. 

So, why not highlight a new nonprofit I encountered while at the Fiesta Medal event this week?

Meet SAZA — San Antonio Zulu Association

If you’ve been to the annual event, “A Taste of New Orleans,” you likely know and love the nonprofit, San Antonio Zulu Association. They’ve got events down. According to their website, SAZA started in 1976 as a Texas Chartered Organization and their very first events were around Juneteenth and “and in 1982, joined the San Antonio Fiesta Commission as a Participating Member Organization (PMO).” 

Follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and check out their Instagram account. They did a great job grabbing “SAZAORG” on those three platforms which is a great callback to their domain name: saza.org.

Nonprofit Fundraising — Event Souvenirs 

Fundraising with merchandise is not a novel idea. WWF does it with their plush toys in the “symbolic adoption kit.  

Arguably, to the Fiesta® natives and fanatics, Fiesta® Medals are more than souvenirs. With that said, the Fiesta® Medal is a fantastic way for local nonprofits to not only fundraise but grow their brand awareness. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize brand awareness as a nonprofit. When you’re using volunteers to staff your events, be sure to give them marketing materials and prep them for questions. This nonprofit did it right even with branded t-shirts. Great job, y’all!

Being former booth staff, I walked up to the San Antonio Zulu Association’s booth and began asking quite a few questions. The gentlemen at the booth were fun, friendly, and informative. I even went back and asked for a selfie! I had not heard of this nonprofit before and, at the time, didn’t realize that the medals were a fundraising campaign. The nonprofit lover and marketer-at-heart here got super excited. I bought eleven medals on Thursday at $10 each so that felt pretty good! 

Who Are SAZA’s Nonprofit Customers?

It’s odd to think of a nonprofit as having customers, but when you think of your organization as a business, then you understand you have three primary customers: the donor, the volunteer, the recipient. 

Without interviewing the organization further, I’m not entirely sure how they recruit their volunteers though I strongly believe it’s through shared vision. However, the recipients are local scholarship applicants from San Antonio. And the donors are mixed: event attendees, Fiesta® medal buyers, as well as one-off donors. If you would like to support them with your Amazon Smile purchases, search for the official 501(c)3 name: “Saza Commission Inc.” when choosing the charity.

“With the proceeds from its well-known annual ‘A Taste of New Orleans’ event, held during the San Antonio Fiesta celebration, the organization reaches out to the community by providing youth the opportunity to further their education through scholarships.” SAZA.org

Nonprofit Fundraising Is Essential 

When I coach nonprofits, fundraising is always front-and-center. Fundraising for your organization sometimes feels gross but it is a must. People want to support causes so don’t be shy. Nonprofit fundraising can be done both online and off. Events are great for brand awareness and quick donations, for certain. Don’t rule out recurring donations as well as partnering with local businesses. 

The San Antonio Zulu Association (SAZA) has a website with a PayPal button for online donations. “A Taste of New Orleans,” is their largest fundraising event for the scholarship program and is scheduled for April 1-3, 2022.

Recommendations for SAZA’s Website 

SAZA’s website could use some love as it seems to be built with 1and1’s website builder but might still be on WordPress. I’m unsure. It also needs a SSL certificate (https) which is pretty standard nowadays and free with LetsEncrypt

I’d love to see this site redesigned in WordPress and using GiveWP donation forms and integrated with a CRM like Groundhogg for example

I’d also recommend adding copy to their donation page including more information like their fundraising goals, percentage complete (or some other visual cue), and a reminder to check “Make this a Monthly Donation” when . Of course, adding a blog and doing stories on the scholarship recipients (case studies) is always advised.

What is Fiesta® San Antonio?

Okay, not to be confused with Fiesta Texas, the Six Flags amusement park, Fiesta San Antonio is a ten day festival all over downtown San Antonio every year in April. It was in June this year because of COVID. Since I’m fairly new to Alamo City, I’ve had everyone — literally strangers (in Texas we call them friends) — tell me that Fiesta® is the big deal! I must go. 

This annual event attracts more than 2.5 million people a year and helps the local economy as well as facilitating a collective event for nonprofit fundraising. So, since I’m pretty new, how about we go with the official description?

“Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. That historic commemoration still takes place, but for more than a century, Fiesta® has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures. Fiesta® has evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of more than $340 million for the Alamo City. Funds raised by official Fiesta® events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.” Fiesta San Antonio

Local Event Marketing for Nonprofits 

We all know that nonprofits need clever, effective ways to fundraise and one great way to gain lasting, local support is through local events. With social media postings, an event hashtag, and engagement (online and off), your nonprofit is sure to become front-and-center. The only question is, which local event will your nonprofit partner with?

Also, don’t forget about GivingTuesday which is November 30 this year. !