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Nonprofit Strategies

Digital marketing for nonprofits: 5 steps to hit your target

Launch an online campaign with this guide to digital marketing for nonprofits. We'll help you find your target audience, set up a website, and grow your reach.

Kylie Davis
November 2, 2021

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To hit their campaign goal, nonprofits need to have a clear digital marketing plan in place.

According to research by Blackbaud, online giving increased by 21% in 2020, proving that your website, email campaigns, and social media marketing strategy all play key roles in hitting your fundraising targets. But how do you tie each of these platforms into one, seamless strategy, all working toward a common goal?

If you're just getting started with digital marketing for nonprofits, it can easily become overwhelming. Below, we share how to develop a digital marketing plan in five steps, and the marketing materials you'll need to make it happen.

Digital marketing for nonprofits: 5 steps to put your marketing plan in motion

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You don't need a robust marketing team or a multi-thousand dollar marketing budget to develop a digital marketing strategy.

To get started with nonprofit marketing online, take the following actions. 

1. Set your marketing goals 📌

A digital marketing campaign is nothing more than setting a goal, then creating an action plan to reach that goal. Therefore, goal setting needs to be the first step in establishing your strategy—after all, how will you get started if you don't know where you're going? 

A goal can be to raise a certain amount for your cause, but it doesn't have to be. Your goal can be to grow your email list to 5,000 subscribers or double your social media following, sell out your upcoming charity golf tournament, or increase recurring donations by 50% over the next six months. When setting a goal, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How does this goal get you one step closer to your mission? 
  • Why are you doing this? Why is this goal your #1 priority over the next year? 
  • Does this goal support your values as your organization? 

2. Do your research 📘

Digital marketing for nonprofits is not all that different from marketing in person. You are trying to make a connection with your audience in order to move them one step closer toward a desired action (most likely, making a donation). 

But to do this, you first need to understand your target audience. Dig up facts and figures on your supporters, prospects, and volunteers. This could be hidden in your email or call list, past event sign-up lists, and contributions from when your organization first started. From there: 

  • Segment your list: Try to notice themes where you can draw distinct lines between different groups—these are called segments. Segments can be made out of anything, including gift size, geographical location, gender, age, or type (staff member, volunteer, donor, etc.).
  • Create personas: Based on your segments, try to visualize your audience by building marketing personas on different individuals. This allows you to tailor your messaging to the individual, thereby increasing your chance of a conversion.
  • Store data in a CRM system: Now that you've done the grunt work, be sure to store all data in a CRM platform. Givebutter comes with a free built-in CRM system, so you can store donor information, track activities, and easily segment your audience. 

3. Realize your constraints (then set your priorities) ⏰

With your goals in place, it's time to recognize your constraints. As a nonprofit organization, you face time, budget, and staff constraints. A recent survey by Eagle Hill Consulting found that 58% of nonprofits faced budget cuts in 2020, with nearly half (49%) of respondents expecting to face continued cuts in 2021. 

The solution? Do the best with what you got. 

Operating with a small team and tight budget doesn't mean you need to change your goal—it means switching the tactics needed to get there. Attacking every social media channel, posting every day, or dropping hundreds of dollars in Google Ads each month might not be realistic. But you can choose several social media platforms that would result in higher traffic to your website or online fundraising page, and set an attainable number of deliverables. Use this as a starting point: 

  • Where does your audience hang out? Pair the demographic data collected in step #2 with online platforms your audience would be most likely to frequent. For example, according to research collected by Sprout Social, if your largest supporter segment is females between the ages of 25–34, then Instagram would be the channel best suited for your cause. However, if your key demographic skews to the 46–55 age range, then LinkedIn might be a good choice.
  • Set a reasonable list of deliverables: With a small team or no dedicated marketing staff, posting on social media everyday or sending a newsletter each week isn't realistic. Estimate the number of hours you can dedicate each week to digital marketing, then create a list of deliverables (for example, publishing a newsletter once per month or two social media posts per week).

4. Make sure your website is up to speed 💻

When you promote your cause on different platforms, whether it be through PPC (pay per click) advertising, social media, or email marketing, your goal will be to drive traffic to your website or fundraising page. Therefore, you need to ensure that your online presence is fully updated once those supporters arrive—starting with your website.

You don't need to invest thousands of dollars into a web design project in order to have a functional site (pro tip: Givebutter allows you to create fully branded donation landing pages for free). However, to get the most from your marketing efforts, start with this to-do list: 

  • Ensure Google Analytics is installed: Google Analytics for nonprofits allows you to understand where your supporters arrive on your site, the actions they take, and ultimately how they convert (You can now connect your Givebutter account to Google Analytics to make smarter decisions about attracting and converting donors!).
  • Optimize for mobile: Mobile devices account for over half (57%) of all internet traffic. Therefore, ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Update your most popular blog posts: With content marketing, it's easy to publish several posts then completely forget they exist. However, older posts that have been shared multiple times are good for search engine optimization (SEO), helping you move up the ranks in Google. Ensure these posts share the most relevant information, in case potential donors stumble across them in their search. 
  • Have a clear call-to-action: Research shows that most people spend just 15 seconds on a website. Therefore, you need to make it as easy as humanly possible for them to give by embedding an online donation form on your homepage.

5. Grow your audience 📈

The point of any digital marketing strategy isn't to keep targeting the same supporters over and over. Instead, the point is to grow your audience, thereby having a pool of potential donors who will convert.

Implementing a growth strategy is one of the most frustrating (and rewarding) tasks of any beginner marketer. However, if you stay consistent, you can ultimately expand your audience to hit your fundraising campaign goal. Here are a few ideas to get started: 

  • Develop an email opt-in: Piece together an e-book, original research, or industry report and use it as an opt-in for your email list. That way, you gradually grow the number of subscribers for your email marketing campaigns.
  • Experiment with paid advertising: Google Ads and social ads are one of the fastest ways to grow your audience, but also the most expensive. Luckily, Google offers "Google Grants" to nonprofit websites to get started with paid advertising.
  • Track your progress: Contrary to popular belief, online marketing isn't (just) about creativity or gut intuition. Instead, follow key metrics through Google Analytics, your email marketing platform, and social networks to understand which efforts are driving the most engagement.

The all-in-one solution to get started with digital marketing for nonprofits 

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Digital marketing encompasses your website, email automation, paid advertising, and social media to help you hit your fundraising goal.

With the right strategy—and the right marketing tools—you can grow your audience to ultimately convert them into regular donors.

Givebutter is the all-in-one solution to help you put your digital marketing plan in place. With a built-in CRM platform, marketing automation, and branded donation pages, it's the most seamless, affordable, and downright fun tool to use to raise funds online. Ready to see how Givebutter can help launch your digital strategy? Create your free account to get started. 

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