The pandemic has upended how nonprofits interact with their communities. Communication shifted online. Fundraising shifted online. And in some cases, volunteering shifted online. Nonprofits had to rethink how to engage and inspire their communities in a new way. And while nonprofits understood the importance of transitioning to digital, this transition was put on warp speed as of March 2020. In turn, marketing strategies had to be updated in order to attract and keep the attention of volunteers and donors.
The transition to digital marketing has forced nonprofits to embrace emerging technology. Above all, people expect engaging digital experiences and these experiences must be mobile-optimized and personalized. Nonprofit marketing teams are tasked with figuring out how to do this ASAP with limited resources.
Fortunately, nonprofits have something that B2C or B2B marketers lack: a well-defined mission. Donors give and people volunteer because they believe in your mission. Additionally, they believe their gift of time or money can make a difference. Donor and volunteer retention is one of the most important reasons for nonprofit marketing. Focus on communicating the value of your mission, as well as sharing your needs in your marketing efforts, to inspire your communities to help you succeed.
A Call to Act
How you communicate your needs is vitally important. You must figure out the best way to reach your target audiences of donors, volunteers, employees, and brand ambassadors. For example, look at your donor research and your volunteer and employee databases to see who they are and what they want. If you don’t know, ask them! Then focus your efforts on meeting them where they are. This undoubtedly will be on a variety of channels and will require you to tailor your message for those channels and your audiences.
Segment campaigns and CTAs are created based on a user’s age and/or location, past donation behaviors, and recent data. Overall, ensure your digital and mobile experiences are, at a minimum, functional, but ideally engaging experiences for all audiences.
When you know how and why people behave the way they do, you can create content that they identify with and respond to. Your content marketing goals will also need to be adapted. Content marketing goals for nonprofits can include:
- Brand awareness
- Donations (first-time donations, recurring donations, donations with matched corporate gifts)
- Email subscribers
- Social media followers
- Conversion rates
The most successful nonprofit campaigns are both engaging and inspiring for your audience. This type of custom content creates visibility on social media, starts conversations, and then leads to meaningful change. According to Hubspot, engaging nonprofit campaigns have three things in common:
Nonprofits can use inbound marketing to identify content topics that are attractive to your audience. There are several popular types of nonprofit marketing campaigns including member events; volunteer opportunities; webinars; blog posts; social media posts; online communities; annual reports; downloadable offers/guides; educational information; videos; member stories/testimonials; donor templates for matching gifts; and time-sensitive challenges.
Nonprofit Digital Marketing Playbook
Update Your Website
Where to start? Your website. As your virtual storefront and calling card, your website is where you can ensure your message and image are exactly what you want them to be. Update your website to keep it appealing and interactive. The number one reason Gen X might not donate to an organization is due to an outdated website. In addition, ensure that your website is designed mobile-first, secure, and accessible. Use SSL (secure sockets layer) and secure contact management and payment platforms to collect donations.
Second on your list is social media. Hone your social media marketing efforts by understanding each platform’s purpose, learning where your audience spends their time, and creating targeted content for each channel. Use the social media platforms and features specifically created to support nonprofits. As a result, this will help amplify your posts.
The top reason millennials and Gen Z may not donate is due to a poor social media presence. Millennials prefer texting or app-based donations, or using a website online. Gen Z and Gen X, meanwhile, prefer to donate via Facebook, social media, texting, or mobile apps.
In 2021, social platforms rolled out new programs to boost nonprofit engagement and support.
- TikTok for Good partnered with nonprofits to support direct donation links in videos and promote the #GivingSzn hashtag to increase visibility.
- Instagram and Facebook have dedicated “charitable giving tools” with donation stickers. Instagram made it easier to fundraise with Instagram donations like live donations, clickable donation buttons in stories, main profile donate CTAs, and Instagram Feed fundraisers.
- Twitter is testing out on-profile tipping.
Next on the playbook list is your newsletter. Segment your email lists by audience, campaigns and demographics. According to a Duham+Company study, 37% of organizations fail to send emails to new subscribers within the first month of signing up. Moreover 88% of nonprofits don’t send a welcome email series at all. It’s also important to make newsletters mobile friendly as 66% of emails are now being read on a mobile device.
Video and Images
Sharing branded visuals creates impact far beyond what you say. Visuals such as images, graphs, infographics and videos can be processed 60,000 times faster than text and are consequently easier to remember. People only remember 20% of what they hear, but they remember 80% of what they see and do.
Nonprofits have compelling stories to tell and visuals will only amplify those stories. Additionally, social media and blog interactivity and engagement skyrocket when quality visuals are shared.
According to Hubspot statistics, 9 in 10 people value UGC over branded promotional emails and content. Share stories directly from the recipients of your organization’s efforts. For instance, use images, direct quotes, and videos to share authentic storytelling. Make sure you are easily discoverable on social media so people can tag your accounts when they are posting and sharing about you.
Partner with influencers and/or tech companies, local restaurants, and other nonprofits. In 2021, grassroots movements and mutual aid organizations joined together to raise awareness for the ways they help communities; more than 300 partnerships formed between groups. Identifying other people and organizations that have a similar mission to partner with will subsequently increase your audience and awareness. Be sure to create a campaign that is in alignment with your nonprofit’s values and have fun with it!
In 2022, nonprofits are reengaging their audiences digitally. Causes that nonprofits frequently champion—like social issues, the environment, and healthcare—are far more conducive to compelling storytelling than most other products or services. Using multi-channel marketing to market to all audiences is vital. Above all, the mission guides nonprofits in their marketing efforts, which can align and reach donors, volunteers, employees and their communities.
Photo by Brad Weaver