Digital Marketing Strategy For Nonprofits – Yes, You Need One
Your nonprofit organization has an incredible mission, and you work your ass off with limited resources to push it forward. You’re probably a marketing team of one (maybe you’re lucky enough to have an assistant or intern), so you certainly don’t have the time—let alone the budget—to do all the marketing you wish you could do.
Or you might be new to the team and the old guard doesn’t like change. If your canvassing and direct mailer strategies are still working, I’m not here to tell you to abandon them. But if they’re not working anymore, and you’re seeing declining donations and engagement on those channels, then…yeah it’s time to shift those limited resources of yours towards testing new marketing ideas for your nonprofit organization.
Websites should Not be a Mysterious Labyrinth
The internet is the #1 place people go to research and find information. Unfortunately, spectacular website development can be financially inaccessible to smaller organizations, but (and I will die on this hill) your website does need to make a good impression on your users immediately, or you’ll lose them before you have a chance to talk to them about the importance of the work you’re doing.
I’m not saying you need to break the bank designing the most cutting edge website, but I am saying that your website cannot take a day to load and look like something from 1992.
A super out of date website gives the impression that your organization is inactive, ineffective, and out of touch. A modern, well-organized site, with clear navigation, gives the impression that your nonprofit is active, relevant, and working hard towards achieving its goals.
SEO for Nonprofits
Implementing a solid SEO strategy is how you play the long-game in nonprofit digital marketing. Because it doesn’t produce immediate results, it tends to be something that organizations put off the longest.
This is the opposite of what you should be doing. It can take a while for your blogging content to rank well and start pulling in big traffic, so getting started early should be your priority. Moving up in the search rankings is a slow process with many moving parts, which is exactly why you need to start it today. Every day you wait is a day you’re delaying seeing the results of these efforts.
The best thing about SEO work is that it’s the longest-lasting marketing tactic. A great blog can pull in quality traffic for years, and quality content will increase your backlink profile. Increasing your backlinks and posting regularly will increase your domain authority, and the higher that is, the higher all of your website pages are likely to rank in Google search results.
How to Build Your Digital Fundraising Strategy
Use Google ads and social media platforms to help collect the funds you need to operate.
Building Familiarity with your Organization Needs to come First
How many times have you donated to a cause or organization that you had previously never heard of? What’s that? Never? Samesies.
Before you ask someone for money, you need to introduce yourself first and convey the importance of your mission.
Give Them Options to get Involved
In general, when it comes to donating, there are two main options: people can either donate their time or their money. Give people the option to donate what they can at that point in time.
When I was a broke college student, I always thought it was hilarious that nonprofits would stick canvassers on campus asking for donations. How did they not know I was already living off someone else’s money (student loans) I certainly didn’t have any to spare, no matter how much I wanted to help stop the Amazon from burning.
What I did have was insomnia and a tendency to procrastinate which meant that I had time to distract myself with writing letters to my senators, attending protests, and spending a few hours clearing out invasive species with a work party.
Get a Google Grant!
Google will give registered nonprofits $10,000 a month to use on Google search ads. The application process can be a little confusing, and you need to know how to use the money effectively in the platform to stay compliant to keep the grant.
They have some rules and restrictions you need to follow in order to remain compliant and keep the money rolling in month after month. Fair warning, these rules change often—basically whenever Google feels like it. So this is not a set it and forget it situation, rather it requires maintenance on a weekly basis. But in case you haven’t done the math, yet, it’s (up to) A HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars in free ad money for the year.
Think Through Your Email Strategy Carefully
The most successful email strategies are segmented by audiences with different interests. You’ll want to let users sign up for whichever topics they’re most interested in—if they want, they can sign up for all of them, but that is their decision.
Giving them a choice ensures that you’re sending them content that they are interested in, which means they’re more likely to read it! Yay!
Spamming their inboxes with 4 emails every month about things that they don’t care about, will lead to higher bounce rates and unsubscriptions before you even have a chance to tell them about the volunteer events that they were most interested in hearing about.
Specific Content Tailored to the User, Always
Try breaking out your newsletter content into a few different categories:
- General Info and Updates – this is for keeping people in the loop about big changes and new initiatives at your organization. Such as a new director coming on board or announcing your upcoming fundraiser event. This is also a great place to include recent success stories to tug at the heartstrings. Show them that what you’re doing works!
- Action Alerts – this is for when you need people to take immediate action by either calling their representative, signing a petition, signing up to volunteer, etc..
- “Technical” Information and Learning – this is relevant especially if your organization is litigation heavy so you want to talk about an upcoming bill, or environmentally focused, and a new study has been published. Dense informative material is not everyone’s cup of tea and you don’t want to turn people off by trying to force it on them.
What I see most often from the nonprofit newsletters hitting my inbox is that organizations want to cram all of their info together into one email. These dense, and very long emails tend to receive lower click-through rates, which means that important info—such as action items—get missed, and the unsubscribe rate starts to climb.
You’re better off sending more frequent, short, segmented emails to users who have directly expressed interest in those topics.
Where To Go From Here
If you need to do all of your digital marketing work in-house, stay tuned for our upcoming blogs this month where we dive deeper into specific digital marketing strategies for nonprofits.
If you know your website needs an overhaul, or you’re thinking of partnering with an agency to really kick your nonprofit digital marketing into high year, drop us a line. We’re always happy to chat about strategy, and we can do a free SEO review if you’re not sure how you currently stack up.