As with any project, having a game plan for your nonprofit’s marketing allows you to strategically work toward achieving key goals. Creating your first nonprofit marketing strategy may seem like an insurmountable wall, but, by focusing in on your top three goals and your nonprofit’s most familiar marketing channels, you can break up the planning process into bite-size pieces.
But not so fast… To make sure you have all of the information you’ll need to create a nonprofit marketing strategy you can stick to, I’d recommend doing some prep work and answering these eight strategy-informing questions before diving into the rest of this post. Already have thoughtful answers to the pre-strategy questions? Then let’s get started.
Creating a Nonprofit Marketing Strategy
A good nonprofit marketing strategy looks at the end goal and considers the best method of reaching that goal given all of the contributing factors for your specific nonprofit. This means considering things like your target audience for each goal, your marketing budget, and the capacity and capabilities of your staff. Because of all of the possible contributing factors for each individual nonprofit, a one-size-fits-all nonprofit marketing strategy doesn’t really exist.
That being said, there are goals and channels commonly shared amongst the nonprofit marketing community that can be easily adapted to something that could work for your organization.
To help get you started, we’ve outlined three common nonprofit goals and brainstormed the ways a typical nonprofit might achieve them using three common marketing channels. We’re planning to increase donations, boost volunteers and spread awareness using a nonprofit website, email marketing and social media.
But again, if your nonprofit has different goals or uses different channels, you may have to pick and choose to get where you need to go. And even if this plan fits your organization perfectly on the surface, it’s a good idea to make tweaks based on what you know about your audience of supporters and potential supporters.
Goal 1: Increase Donations
If your nonprofit would like to focus on increasing donations, the following marketing projects could fit into your nonprofit marketing strategy.
- Include the Donate page in the main navigation: So long as it makes sense for your structure, keeping your Donate page in the main navigation means a visitor can find that page no matter where they are on your site.
- Add a Donate call to action on the homepage: Your homepage is often the most visited page on a nonprofit website. Use that prime real estate to make your case for donations.
- Create landing pages for key fundraising campaigns: These pages will provide the details of the campaign and offer a place for you to send people through promotional materials.
- Highlight dedicated donors and provide impact updates on the blog: When donors can see the impact that their gifts provide on a regular basis, they may feel inspired to give more often.
- Set up online donation conversions to track in Google Analytics: Setting up conversion tracking will let you track your progress toward your goal of increasing donations.
- Send Thank You emails to donors after they’ve given: As part of your donor retention efforts, you should (at the very least) be thanking everyone who gives to your organization.
- Segment your email list to include a group that only sends to donors: Donor segmentation will allow you to send more customized messaging and organizational news to donors.
- Send additional emails to update donors on the impact of their gift: Most often, keeping current donors is much more beneficial than attracting new donors. And that means spending the time to cultivate and retain donors.
- Use automated emails as a piece of your next fundraising campaign: Provide details and drive supporters to give to the campaign through a timed workflow of emails.
- Weave in calls to donate: These calls to action can be as a part of your fundraising campaign and impact updates.
- Give supporters an easy way to fundraise through social media: For example, create a kit to get supporters started with Facebook Fundraisers.
- Follow and communicate with current and potential sponsors on social media: This is a great way to build relationships that may lead to additional sponsorships.
Goal 2: Boost Volunteers
Want more helpful volunteers to move your mission forward? We’ve seen these strategy components work to achieve that goal.
- Post volunteer opportunities on your website: Using a volunteer management system allows you to control and communicate with volunteers for each of your opportunities.
- Add a volunteer call to action on the homepage: Your homepage is often the most visited page on a nonprofit website. Use that prime real estate to make your case for volunteering.
- Ensure that the volunteer page is easy to find in your website structure: When you organize (or reorganize) your website structure, keep the Volunteer page in a logical location, such as within the Get Involved section.
- Highlight dedicated volunteers and new opportunities on the blog: These blog post ideas are all about volunteering. You can then post these highlights on social media as well.
- Set up online volunteer sign-ups to track in Google Analytics: Setting up conversion tracking will let you track how well your efforts to increase volunteer sign-ups go.
- Send thank you emails to volunteers: Send a thoughtful email after someone volunteers for the first time and on corresponding holidays, like Thanksgiving and Volunteer Appreciation Week. Regular emails can work to encourage community and relationship building, establishing a positive relationship that keeps volunteers coming back.
- Segment your email list: Include a group that only sends to volunteers and target your email content to volunteers.
- Update volunteers on the impact of their work: This can be accomplished through email or social media, depending on what your volunteers prefer.
- Post opportunities on social media: Weave in posts about new volunteer opportunities and opportunities that need to be filled.
Goal 3: Spread Awareness
If you’re looking to expand your reach and let people know about your organization and mission, we have some ideas that might push the needle.
- Include content to learn about your cause on your website: When you’re spreading the word through other marketing channels, it’s nice to have an informative page to send people to so they can learn more about your top issues.
- Add a short description of what you do at the top of your homepage: New visitors can get a good idea of what you do right off the bat. Check out our demo site to see this in action.
- Include calls to action for those new to your cause throughout your website: A good call to action example could be joining your email newsletter.
- Provide an easy way for new visitors to sign up for your email list: This could be a page with a form on your website, or even a call to action that appears in the sidebar and/or footer of your nonprofit’s site.
- Send out a regular email newsletter: Sending out regular newsletters helps educate your subscribers and keep them engaged in the cause.
- Optimize blog posts for search engines: Publish blog posts about topics related to your cause and optimize them for search engines to drive additional traffic.
- Research social media channels before joining: You want to make sure that your target audience regularly engages on those networks before dedicating the time to be active on new channels.
- Maintain an active presence on all the networks you use: To accomplish this, consider creating a posting schedule and sticking to it.
- Consider creating a social media ambassador program: Supporters can then become ambassadors and spread awareness among their followers.
- Research and use hashtags related to your cause: Make sure to follow the best practices for using hashtags on each network.
- Engage and communicate with influencers in your field: Research potential partners and supporters to strike up a conversation with them on the social media channels that they’re active on.
Get The Strategy Template
Use our nonprofit marketing strategy template to create your own strategy, unique to your nonprofit’s goals, capacity and audience. Find a customizable template strategy for the three common goals, organized by the channel they use.
Now that you have all of the pieces, you can start breaking out the projects to decide what needs to be accomplished to make them a reality. This strategy provides the bones for your plan, but it’s up to you to set priorities, turn each idea into actionable next steps and give it life. (Don’t worry! If you have questions on what’s necessary to build out specific projects listed above, you can always ask us in the comments below.)
For example, you could pull out the project to start highlighting dedicated donors on the blog. To accomplish this, you’d likely need to work with your development team to create a list of donors that you have a good relationship, reach out to them requesting their permission and participation, and then conduct a short interview or provide a writing prompt to get the information you’d need for the post.
Measure Your Success
This last step ensures that you don’t get stuck in old and ineffective online marketing ruts. Trying new strategies is a big part of improving effectiveness, but not everything you try will land with your audience. It’s important to notice and either adjust or cut those projects that aren’t helping you toward organizational goals.
Take a look at the projects that you’ve included in your nonprofit marketing strategy and make sure you have a plan to track each individual project’s success. A free tool like Google Analytics can be an awesome resource as you look to make strategic decisions for future marketing projects rooted in real data.
For example, continuing with the example of featured donor blog posts, you’ll want to have a process to check in on the data for this type of blog post in comparison with other types of posts.
- Did it lead to more donations?
- Did you see an uptick in engagement when you promoted it on your social media channels?
- Did the newsletter you included it in see more clicks than usual?
Of course, there are qualitative measures of success, too. If one of your featured donors says they feel closer to your cause as a result, they might increase their annual gift or recruit their friends to get involved. We’d consider that a win!
Taking the time to think about your goals and getting specific about the ways that you can reach them is a key part of being able to improve effectiveness. Customize our template nonprofit marketing strategy into a plan of action that works for your nonprofit, considering your audience, supporters and staff.
What does your nonprofit marketing strategy look like? Do you have any questions about the ways you might reach your goals based on the channels you use? We love talking strategy. Ask away in the comments below.