Digital Marketing Tips for Nonprofits

By Ilia Jones | February 2021


Capturing your audience's attention is essential to succeed as a nonprofit organization—or any organization for that matter! However, it is a constant challenge in today's digitally saturated reality. With less in-person interaction, we're all relying on screens more than ever to keep in touch, find entertainment, and connect to causes close to our hearts. For your nonprofit to thrive in a crowded digital marketplace, you need to evolve to stay engaged with your current donor community and attract others. We've put together some digital marketing tips to help you navigate the year ahead. 

Keep What's Been Working

The events of last year most likely required your nonprofit to pivot and adapt to new ways to reach and communicate with your donors. While we're all ready for the world to get back to normal (or whatever that looks like going forward), don't be too quick to revert back to the ways you were doing things before. You've probably invested in digital marketing technology that makes it easier to connect remotely and host live-streamed or video events. Luckily those tools will continue to be valuable.

If anything, consider how you can incorporate traditional methods of communication and donor interaction with these new ways. Brainstorm how you can continue using the technology you've invested in to enrich your donors' experience and keep them engaged. For example, you can offer access to a live stream of a donor event at a lower price in addition to selling higher-priced tickets for in-person attendees. Or you could host monthly virtual fundraising events on social media that also promote in-person volunteer events.

Digital Marketing is (Still) a Budget Priority

It is tempting to tighten belts in uncertain times. Still, it's essential to maintain your investment and budget for digital marketing in the year ahead. It can seem counterintuitive for an organization created to give to others—however, your nonprofit needs more than just enough to keep the lights on. In order to succeed in the long run, you must continue to engage with donors before their dollars go elsewhere.

That said, it never hurts to review your marketing expenses and past campaigns to see what's working and what isn't. Take a close look at how you used your marketing budget last year. What were some wins? What gambles didn't pay off?

Often, investing in digital marketing can be more cost-effective than traditional marketing. For example, most people listen to the radio in their cars, but with more people working from home and driving less, maybe it's time to drop your radio ad spend. Or, if your email contact list has grown, perhaps you can cut back on direct mail campaigns or printed newsletters for your donors.


Prioritize Your Donor Community

You likely already have a donor base that is engaged and committed to your cause. By focusing on the community you have created, you can invest your digital marketing efforts in people who are most likely to donate to your nonprofit in the future. Your efforts in this area should be on retention and further targeting within your donor base.


Encourage your existing donors to sign up for your weekly newsletter and follow your nonprofit on social media to keep them engaged. You will stay top of their mind, and they will be more likely to donate to your cause in the future.


There are different tiers of engagement within your existing donor community, such as the size of donations and the level of involvement in events like volunteering. Create defined mailing lists and campaigns for each donor category, such as big-ticket gala attendees, frequent volunteers, monthly donors, and less consistent donors.


Find new donors for your nonprofit by identifying your ideal supporter. Then focus your digital marketing efforts on attracting and gaining their attention. For example, if you are interested in getting more youth involvement, consider a TikTok campaign or challenge. If you want to target corporate sponsors, offer to co-host a networking event. 

By prioritizing your existing donor base and targeting the kind of donors you want to attract, your digital marketing will be efficient and cost-effective.

Don't Forget the Digital Marketing Basics

Your digital marketing strategy isn't complete without a great website, a strong email campaign, and a consistent social media presence. Ideally, the two should be integrated for even more powerful community building with a two-way street of donor traffic. 

Review Your Website:

  • Ensure that all of your contact information, hours of operation, and other essential details are correct and up-to-date.
  • Make sure your website lists all of your upcoming events, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities—and keep it updated!
  • Prominently display social media links or "Follow Us" buttons to encourage website visitors to connect with you.  

Review Your Email Communications Plan:

  • Review your donor email list and clean up any broken emails or unsubscribes.
  • Create your master list and targeted sub-lists to identify and categorize different donor types so you can better focus your email campaigns.
  • Craft a weekly newsletter that makes it into inboxes every week. It doesn't have to be long, and it will keep you in your donor's minds. 
  • Collect donor email addresses on your website. Use a pop-up box, newsletter signup, or event registration to gather information so you can keep in touch.

Review Your Social Media Plan:

  • Create a social media calendar for the year and start creating content in advance. 
  • Coordinate your social media with blog posts, fundraisers, volunteer events and other key dates. 
  • Take advantage of social media tools for nonprofits, such as donation buttons and promoted hashtags.

Integrating your website and social media will create a more cohesive donor experience. It will drive more engagement and web traffic to help you organically grow your donor base. 


Digital Marketing Help for Your Nonprofit

Creating a successful digital marketing strategy requires your organization to continually evolve to keep up, which can be challenging on a tight budget. Hopefully, this article's tips help you adapt and stay nimble as we discover our new normal. If you want to learn more, we put together this 2021 Digital Marketing Survival Guide to help you make sense of today's marketing landscape. 

Still feeling overwhelmed? If you need someone to help manage the marketing tasks on your plate or provide thoughtful, personalized advice for your organization, we're available to help. To learn more about our services or to schedule a meeting, contact us.  


Topics: Nonprofit Help