Common Misconceptions in Online Marketing for Nonprofits

Online marketing for nonprofits

The nonprofit landscape is growing increasingly competitive. As more and more organizations pop up on the scene, the role marketing plays in your success is growing. A well-defined online marketing strategy could make the difference between increasing your impact and getting lost in the noise.

Nonprofit marketing is all about getting your name out there, connecting with potential supporters and driving them to act. It’s the same online. But, there’s more to it than just having an up-to-date website and a few social media accounts. It requires a dedication to building (and maintaining) a strong, active presence on the web, and connecting with potential supporters in the spaces they occupy online.

Planning out your marketing strategy is a lot of work and takes a ton of time. It’s easy to take common online marketing misconceptions at face value. There are so many marketing channels available to you—it can be overwhelming. It’s completely natural to look for any justification for not spending as much time or effort on certain channels. But, falling for some of these misconceptions can seriously hamper your marketing efforts. Here are a few we’ve run across—some old, some new—and feel compelled to address.

Email is a Lost Cause

Most of our inboxes are flooded with junk mail— and emails we can’t remember why we’re even receiving— on a daily basis. I get it. But, email is still a great marketing tool. It’s quick, can be tracked, produces immediate results and can be personalized to the recipient.

Executed properly, email is extremely effective at maintaining your donor base and engaging people who’ve expressed interest in your nonprofit. Email people to let them know about events, fundraising campaigns, new developments in your field and with your nonprofit – the list of possibilities extends far beyond “thanks for donating.”

Reach out. Maintain the connection. Deepen the relationship. Email is a means to accomplish all of these vital actions.

Our Website is a Place, Not a Tool

The majority of your online marketing efforts probably focus on driving people to your website. But, getting them there isn’t the end goal. Taking action is. So, I think it’s fair to reason, your website is a tool. It needs to give people that final nudge into action.

Living Water International’s site is just one example of how to effectively “nudge” people in the direction you want them to go. Just on the homepage, there are calls to action, an option for social sharing and a clear navigation with compelling page names. Everything on this page drives visitors to act.

Online marketing for nonprofits living water international

Invest in your website. Yes, it needs to be visually appealing. But, it also needs to be easy to navigate, simple to use, contain strategically placed calls to action and be chock full of useful information, compelling stories and content to keep visitors engaged. Your website exists to inform and increase awareness, but it also exists to drive action.

I Have Nothing to Say on a Blog

Blogging is a fantastic way to increase your nonprofit’s reach. Through sharing your stories and experiences, you’re inviting visitors to take a closer look at the heart of your nonprofit.

A blog also provides greater opportunity to optimize content and target phrases people interested in your cause are typing into search engines.  Maintaining an active blog with relevant content increases the likelihood of interested people stumbling onto your website.

The Malala Fund blog does an amazing job of posting relevant, quality content. Interviews with donors and posts inspired by news stories and education-related data fuel their content pipeline. The result is an active, informative, compelling blog with the power to connect with anyone interested in their cause.

Online marketing for nonprofits malala fund

The only knock against the Malala Fund blog is its location. It isn’t incorporated directly into their website. We’ve written on it before, but to maximize your blog’s impact, you should absolutely incorporate it directly into your website.

A blog is a fantastic marketing tool when used this way, and the varied content here shows that there are a million places to look for writing inspiration. If you’re really stuck for content though, don’t forget about guest posting. You don’t have to write everything yourself. Volunteers and experts in your field make for great guest authors. There’s plenty to be said on your blog. Trust me.

Social Media is Only for Young Bucks

I think this misconception is largely dying off (thank goodness), but still worth addressing. Social media is more than just a place where millennials hang out. It’s a fantastic place to raise awareness of your nonprofit by engaging with your existing community and potential supporters.

By actively using social media, you create more opportunities for people to interact with you and your content, and eventually support your cause in tangible ways. It’s an awesome place to share new content, promote fundraising campaigns and events, and join conversations surrounding your cause.

These online marketing channels have the power to connect your nonprofit with potential supporters and drive them to act. Don’t let the naysayers fool you. Hopefully, this post showed you how valuable they can be when put to good use.

Are there any misconceptions you would add to our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.