What to Look for in a Nonprofit Digital Agency

By Ilia Jones | February 2022


As a nonprofit organization, your number one priority is your mission. Marketing is an essential ingredient to achieving your goals and raising awareness. However, your nonprofit may not have the staff, time, or other resources to tackle the marketing required. 

If that sounds like your situation, it may be time to look for a digital marketing agency to help you handle the burden. Selecting the right company can take time and energy, both of which can be in short supply for nonprofits, so we put together this handy guide to help. 

Choose an Agency that Specializes in Nonprofits

Did you know that there are agencies that specialize in working with nonprofits? While there are many different types of advertising, web design, and marketing agencies, your nonprofit should work with one that knows the ins and outs of the nonprofit world.

After all, motivating donors and connecting with a like-minded community of volunteers is a little different from selling a widget online. 

The values you hold as a nonprofit are a big piece of who you are. In fact, the "why" behind what you do can be what resonates most with your community. So, why not find a digital marketing agency that aligns with your values?

When you hold common values, you can be sure that they will be as motivated by your mission as you are and will go the extra mile to make your work shine. 

What Do You Need from a Digital Agency?

The next step in finding a digital agency for your nonprofit is determining what services you need from them. It can help to take an audit of your current in-house team and their skillset and find the gaps. You may also want to consider whether the staff you have focused on specific tasks might not be better suited or more impactful elsewhere.

For example, the youngest staff members often end up on social media duty. But what if they have a degree in public policy that's withering on the vine while they're busy writing tweets?

By taking stock of the staff you have and figuring out how to best use the resources at your disposal, you should also be able to identify the gaps in your marketing efforts. 

Common areas where nonprofits need marketing help are:

  • Marketing Strategy
  • Content Creation
  • Social Media 
  • SEO and SEM
  • Marketing Automation
  • Email Campaigns
  • Video Creation and Production

Make a note of the areas where you need the most help and start to narrow down the agencies you're considering based on their areas of expertise

What Are Your Marketing Goals?

When engaging with any outside agency, it's helpful to have goals in mind for what you want to achieve together. Take a look at the performance of your nonprofit's marketing efforts over the past year. Where have you been successful? Where would you like to see more success?

A nonprofit digital agency can help with the following:

  • Increasing Funding
  • Raising Brand Awareness
  • Nurturing Donor Relationships
  • Growing Volunteerism
  • Improving Online Visibility
  • Establishing Credibility

A digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofits should help you clarify these goals. They should also provide specialized services and strategies to help you reach them. 

Take some time to review your nonprofit's performance in these critical areas and identify where you want to improve. What are some S.M.A.R.T. goals that you can set for the future?

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

As you work with an agency, ask them how you can better define your goals and measure success from now on. 

Are They Stuck in the Past or Looking to the Future?

It's easy to look at what's worked in the past and base your marketing efforts on tried and true methods. However, the world doesn't stand still! Think of how much things have changed in the past couple of years. The organizations that found ways to pivot and engage their community online and in digital spaces survived. And, unfortunately, those that couldn't didn't survive. 

As you're getting to know the agency you're considering working with, ask them what they see coming in the year or years ahead. What marketing trends will stick around and which are falling out of favor?

Given our current digital-focused and hybrid world, it can be helpful to consider recent developments in marketing that should be added to your new strategy. Consider things like:

  • How to incorporate and combine in-person, digital, and hybrid events?
  • How to ensure a seamless and integrated user experience? 
  • How best to use data to drive decisions and strategy?
  • How to maintain page position in the shifting sands of SEO?

Any agency worth their salt will have answers to these questions and more to assist in creating a marketing strategy that will see you through the coming year and into the future. 

How Have They Helped Others Find Success?

Selecting the right digital agency for your nonprofit means choosing one that will help you achieve your mission and reach your goals. 

Ask to see proof that they can help you get where you want to go, such as see a portfolio of their work, case studies, or testimonials to their success.  

Ask them to talk you through the process.

  • How did they identify the challenges or blind spots of the organization?
  • What was their strategy and approach to overcoming the challenges?
  • What were their results, and how did they measure them?
  • What did their past clients have to say about the work they did?

By illustrating their past work and talking you through what they did for other nonprofits, you will get a better picture of what they may can offer you. 

Since nonprofit budgets can be tight, ask if they have any resources that you can use to get a better idea of whether it's a good fit. Resources, such as a helpful blog, online webinars dedicated to nonprofits, or in-person events, can help you gain some marketing skills and learn more about their experience and expertise in marketing for nonprofits. 


Topics: Nonprofit Help

Digital Marketing Services