5 Marketing Strategies for Nonprofit Organizations

Focus your digital marketing in these 5 areas to further your nonprofit’s mission and broaden its impact

Raising brand awareness for a nonprofit organization can have a huge effect on its impact. But nonprofits have a lot to do, from managing volunteers to developing programming to keeping a balanced budget and more. Focusing your marketing strategy on the areas that matter most is key to driving growth. Building a strong nonprofit marketing strategy helps increase supporters, reach and donations—meaning, good marketing support pays for itself and then some. Read on to learn why it pays to invest in marketing your nonprofit.

Why should nonprofits invest in marketing? 

As Yakkety Yak Director of Operations Lindsay Swift puts it, “Nonprofit organizations usually struggle to prioritize marketing because development and programming is so critical. What they don’t often realize is that strategic marketing can pay for itself! So prioritizing marketing can lead to development success and help them connect more people and organizations to their services.” A good marketing strategy keeps nonprofits top of mind with constituents and donors, gives value to the communities they serve and spreads awareness of their mission. Marketing also helps recruit volunteers, enlist new donors and expand an organization’s services. When many nonprofits think about marketing, they often think about receiving fundraising money today. While fundraising for today is obviously important, that pool of people may eventually run dry. It is vitally important to continue to reach new people. Invest in upper funnel tactics that focus on building an audience that you can convert into donors down the line. With marketing and content creation, it is worth investing some budget in areas that may not provide an immediate return.

In the current landscape, digital marketing strategies are especially important. Donors expect donating to be easy, so fundraising has largely shifted to digital channels. Nonprofits must use email communication, social media, videos and virtual events to raise funds and awareness for their cause. Plus, compared to traditional fundraising such as telemarketing and direct mail, digital marketing tactics create more opportunities for nonprofits to gauge the impact of their efforts. 

To put it simply, organizations that don’t invest in marketing infrastructure, particularly in the digital space, will be left behind. But the ones that do will see their return on investment. Learn more about the five vital elements of digital marketing to focus on here. 

Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Nonprofits

Which marketing strategies give nonprofits the most bang for their buck? Our nonprofit marketing experts, Ashley, Lindsay and Heather, pointed to the following five tactics to help nonprofits create a marketing plan that will produce results. 

1. Develop clear, donor-first brand messaging. 

Many organizations struggle to speak about their mission concisely. “I’m always amazed at the scope of some nonprofit organizations—they offer different types of outreach to multiple communities and tailor their efforts to meet a community’s specific needs and goals. I love that, but it can mean a complicated story for constituents who want a simple answer to ‘What do you do?’” Heather says. 

So how does an organization uncomplicate the story? Start with your boilerplate. By conducting research, strategizing and creating a boilerplate—the “elevator pitch” for a brand—to ensure the message remains impactful, simple and consistent through all materials.. Then, when speaking to and about supporters, nonprofits should use clear language to show donors exactly why they are needed and what their support will help accomplish. By focusing on the donor’s importance in your messaging, you leave a place for them in the organization’s story. Additional brand messaging exercises can help you fully flesh out your messaging, but the boilerplate is a good first start.

Discover more about branding here

2. Create engaging web content to inform, inspire and reach new website visitors.

Web pages, articles, videos and podcast episodes promote a nonprofit’s mission and educate its supporters on related topics. In addition to informing, building brand affinity and engagement with current supporters, content marketing can also help grow a nonprofit’s donor base and widen its reach. Informative and inspiring content has the secondary purpose of increasing visibility and growing an organization’s audience through organic search. Search engines like Google interpret the information that a website shares in its digital content to answer searchers’ questions. Targeting these relevant commonly searched phrases, known as keywords, is the key to increasing website traffic and advertising an organization’s story.

Learn more about the benefits of blogging

Nonprofits should also keep their websites up to date with the most current information and initiatives. Clear storytelling about an organization’s mission and its impact will inspire people to take action.

3. Apply for a free Google Ad Grant to expand your reach in search. 

Google Grants are a free way for an organization to get its name and mission out on the world’s biggest search engine. A grant helps a website reach up to thousands more potential supporters. Organizations that qualify for Google Ad Grants can access up to $10,000 per month in search ads on Google. 

To qualify, a nonprofit must hold charity status in its country, meet Google’s eligibility requirements and apply for Google for Nonprofits. Once approved for Google for Nonprofits, an organization can request Google Ad Grants activation. When Google approves the request, they’ll send an email invitation to the organization’s Ad Grants account where campaigns are set up. 

Find out more about paid search.

4. Nurture current, past and potential donors with email marketing.

Email marketing offers a direct avenue to supporters. Since each person owns their email address, you don’t have to go through another channel or algorithm to try to reach them. It’s a great donor engagement tool, allowing you to foster an ongoing relationship with people who have shown interest in your organization. Besides, think about who you’re trying to reach with your fundraising efforts. Today’s donors are all about convenience. They don’t want to pick up the phone and listen to a telemarketer or write and mail a check. They want to hit a button, enter their credit card information and get the receipt emailed right to them. 

Email marketing also provides an opportunity for an organization to engage supporters with news about its impact, initiatives and events and share content that helps readers connect with its mission. A monthly or biweekly newsletter is a good start to building out your email strategy. You can use a newsletter to reengage email subscribers and keep your organization top of mind. Finally, linking to the nonprofit’s latest educational resources from your emails and videos gets readers out of their inboxes, onto your organization’s website and, hopefully, over to your donation page. 

Learn more about content creation here.

5. Grow your social media reach with a combination of organic posts and paid advertising.

Cultivating a presence on social media can help grow your nonprofit’s base of supporters and potential donors—and provide a way for fans to have a greater connection with the mission. While creating social content across the different channels your supporters use can be a commitment, you can make the most of the articles and blogs you’re already creating for your website and repurpose this content into social posts that further share your impact, mission and first-hand knowledge.

If you have the budget for paid social advertising, boost your best performing posts and run paid social ads to reach new people. Finally, take advantage of peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities such as Facebook Fundraising that let your supporters spread the word about your mission within their circles. When used effectively, social media can provide insight into your audience, connect you to like-minded supporters and increase your bottom line. 

Check out our guide to social media marketing. In summary: Nonprofit organizations MUST invest in marketing to continue to grow their donor-base and donations. Make use of the free marketing tools available for nonprofits and work with a marketing partner to implement a marketing strategy that exceeds your goals.

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