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Digital Marketing Solutions for Nonprofits

By Bisk
Digital Marketing Solutions for Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations are coming around to the power of the Internet to promote themselves, but the variety of online resources can be overwhelming.

Internet marketing no longer is covered by maintaining a website and using electronic mail to communicate. Today, social media, peer-to-peer fundraising, mobile applications, landing pages and data analysis all play a significant role. Nonprofits now must set aside funds for a digital marketing budget - and the types of online resources, not to mention their effectiveness, is constantly changing, according to a report by the Eleventy Marketing Group.

Network for Good, through its website,, and its Network for Good Learning Center, offers detailed assistance for nonprofits, including recommendations for online fundraising software.

Nonprofits venturing into online marketing need to remain true to their core causes and understand the target audience they want to reach. This can be accomplished by reviewing past outreach efforts to gauge what was most effective and who responded the best. Nonprofits need to distinguish themselves from other charitable organizations and make sure that any online efforts enrich their mission and connect with current and potential donors. Those efforts can be tracked to determine their effectiveness, but the main goal should be to inspire supporters and call them to action.

Assessing the Nonprofit’s Role

Nonprofits typically rally people around a specific cause, and the first step for an agency is to define its audience to make sure the message being delivered is on point. It’s important to remember that in addition to individual donors, a nonprofit can inspire other local organizations and even government agencies to participate. Nonprofits should never limit their reach to just passionate individuals.

A nonprofit needs to map out the best message to represent its core cause. Branding through a memorable tagline or statement can help. Tailoring online marketing to the agency’s mission statement is important, but the trick is to keep it concise and on point at all times.

Nonprofit directors need to make sure everyone involved with the organization understands what the nonprofit is trying to accomplish. That way they can ensure that the message being disseminated is the right one.

With so many online options, a nonprofit must determine what outlets best fit the organization’s needs. This can include a website, various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, paid advertising, publications such as an electronic newsletter and even publishing the organization’s annual report to offer transparency and a detailed look at past success.

Analyzing Your Effectiveness

A nonprofit’s message is only as good as its effectiveness. If the right people aren’t receiving the message, then it’s a waste of time.

By constantly reviewing content and making hard decisions about the scope and type of communications being utilized, a nonprofit can help dictate how effective specific efforts are and what can be changed, if anything, to have more impact.

Setting Goals and Strategies

With so much information available online, it’s not enough to post an upcoming event on Facebook and stop there.

Nonprofits must outline each component of an online marketing campaign to ensure that the effort delivers the desired result. That starts with a goal, which is the end result, but a good marketing plan also includes specific objectives, strategies for those objectives and tactics that can be used to achieve success.

An objective can be as simple as wanting to increase awareness about a specific event or cause. The objective considers several things, such as who will receive the message, how delivery of the message can be measured and how much time will be spent on the objective.

A strategy is how the objective is put into motion, and often an objective can comprise multiple strategies for success.

Finally, the tactics that a nonprofit uses to achieve success must be determined. Tactics are tools, such as a news release, a website report, a video statement or a focus group discussion. Nonprofits must spend time figuring out which tactics will be most effective and have the largest impact.

Standing Out in the Crowd

Successful online marketing campaigns help distinguish the organization. Nonprofits want donors and supporters to see their effort as being different or one of a kind.

Nonprofits must first gauge their distinctiveness before conveying this in a message. Network for Good recommends taking a journalistic approach to self-review:

  • Who will receive the message?
  • What is the scope of the message?
  • Where will it best reach its intended audience?
  • When do they need you?
  • Why is your organization important?
  • How is your nonprofit different?

Often, nonprofits can find answers to these questions by consulting others – a volunteer, for instance, who may have a different impression of the organization than the people closest to its core.

Sending Out a Call

The main goal is to organize supporters toward a common goal, thereby achieving success.

To do this, a nonprofit must hone its message to galvanize action and ensure results. That means being specific (“Here’s what you can do.”) and reasonable (“Please forward this email to five people you want to learn about this issue.”).

There should be different levels of priority. Some people may just want to make a donation while others will offer hands-on support. By encouraging a wide variety of involvement, a nonprofit can build its support base.

Make sure that responding to the call to action doesn’t confuse a supporter and that it doesn’t require unnecessary steps to achieve success.

Finally, make it easy for someone to visualize themselves taking part. Be descriptive and specific. If the goal is simply to get people to spread the message, say that. If the goal is to encourage in-person involvement, talk about what that might be so the recipient can see the activity, thereby establishing a personal connection.

The wealth of resources available online for nonprofits to use in promoting and distributing specific marketing efforts is growing, and changing, by the day.

Nonprofits must spend time learning about the different avenues at their disposal and form a precise and detailed plan for maximizing results and achieving specific goals. 

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Category: Nonprofit Leadership