Nonprofit marketing is different from marketing for any other type of business out there.
It requires special care and a strategic plan.
We know this better than anybody because we’ve helped nonprofits increase their followers by tens of thousands on social media,
collect petition signatures,
drive post engagement at as a low as $0.003 per engagement,
So this is what we’re including in today’s post: a step-by-step breakdown of how to successfully market your nonprofit to attract more:
…and to see the needs of your nonprofit met.
5 Nonprofit Marketing Strategies For Your Organization
Strategy 1: Invest In A Solid Website
A common thought we’ve heard from some of our nonprofit clients to date is that they often have a tight budget and struggle to justify investing in a website.
But in today’s day and age, your website is your storefront.
It’s often the first impression people gain of your brand, and you should consider it as the face of your nonprofit.
Now, when we say “storefront” here, we’re not referring to an eCommerce store like we would for other businesses.
That’s unless your nonprofit has merch or something to sell!
But more so we’re talking about the online version of your brick-and-mortar location.
When people come to your website, they should be able to gather any and all information that they would if they were to talk to you in person.
Your website should answer questions like these:
- When and where can people sign up to volunteer?
- What’s the closest volunteering opportunity near them?
- Where can they donate online?
- What is your nonprofit all about?
- If they support you, where does their money go?
We can personally testify that failing to have an informative website (or a website at all) will deter potential donors and volunteers.
Here’s how we know from personal experience.
This happened last April when we were approaching Earth Day.
One of our team members here at LYFE (and her friend) wanted to contribute and find an environmentally-conscious nonprofit group to volunteer with.
She mentioned that back in their high school days, they were in the Environmental Club and used to help pick up trash, plant trees, etc.
And so, they wanted to find a nonprofit close to where they live now so that they could do something similar for Earth Day.
She said they Googled to the ends of the Earth trying to find something, looked on local neighborhood apps, on Facebook, and more.
After a lot of digging, they did eventually find the names of some nonprofits to volunteer with.
Granted they were written on what looked like a random, 1998 outdated web article but the bigger problem was that…
…they came with no link or phone number or email for them to reach out to.
The outcome? They did not end up volunteering anywhere that year.
Our point in telling that story is to show you a real-life example of what often happens to nonprofits with an outdated or nonexistent website.
You lose out on potential volunteers and donors.
Now, having a website is only half the battle in nonprofit marketing. As we said, the other half of it is that it needs to be updated, helpful and functional.
People need to be able to find any and all relevant information about your nonprofit on the page.
Let’s look at this nonprofit as an example.
This organization is called Compassion International, and they are a Christian group that allows you to sponsor children in poverty across the globe.
Now from looking at their homepage, we immediately see where we can click:
- to sponsor a child,
- ways to donate,
- how to get involved,
- more about their organization,
- see resources for current sponsors, and
- read their blog
When we hover our mouse over all these tabs, we get even more menu options.
Without even having to scroll or click anywhere yet, the user can see a clear path to the answers to several questions they might have in coming to the site.
This is a good example of preemptively understanding the questions your target audience may have.
And answering them with a well-thought-out nonprofit website design.
This is ideal and will keep your visitors retained on your site for longer.
So where do you start?
Well, there are several website builders to choose from that all have different benefits and pricing plans.
But that depends on what you need and your level of expertise.
So here’s a post that goes into depth with everything you need to know about websites and website design formula.
Strategy 2: SEO or Search Engine Optimization
In the real-life example we just shared of searching in vain for a nonprofit to volunteer with, did you catch where we went to look for information first?
It was Google!
Google is one of the most (if not THE most) powerful search engines worldwide.
Google gets over 3.5 billion searches per day- it’s hard to even process that so here’s another way to look at it.
Google gets over 41,000 searches per second!
When people have…
- a problem they need a resolution to, or
- a question they want to be answered. or
- just more information about literally anything in general
…people go to Google.
And this behavior pattern remains the same when people want more information about a nonprofit.
So given this information, what can you do to leverage all the attention Google receives?
The answer is to make sure your website appears on Google!
When someone searches “nonprofit near me” or “places to volunteer in Atlanta” or insert whichever city you serve there, does your website appear?
The first five results on Google receive 67.6% of all the clicks.
And it makes sense because think back to the last time you Googled something.
Have you ever scrolled to the second page? Probably not!
Most people just automatically trust Google and choose from the top 5 websites Google provides.
So the benefit to ranking in the #1 spot on Google is twofold:
- It drives relevant, qualified traffic to your site.
- It simultaneously builds brand trust.
Because if Google trusts your website enough to rank it #1, people don’t question your credibility.
So then the next question is how do you do it? How do you boost your search engine position ranking?
How do you perform SEO marketing for nonprofits?
Well, SEO is a big umbrella term for a number of processes, and it’s an ongoing process at that.
For your nonprofit marketing, you’ll need to make changes to your website, acquire backlinks and create strategic content to rank for relevant keywords.
For a more complete guide on SEO, you can read this post “What is SEO” next.
Keywords are the words or phrases people are searching on Google.
How do you know which keywords to plan your SEO strategy around?
The term “keyword” is synonymous with the terms people are searching for in Google.
So we’re sure you’re already thinking of some keywords that you want your website to appear for!
But we always recommend doing a little research first.
Google Ads has a tool called Keyword Planner that you can use to research relevant keywords or phrases that people type into Google.
For example, let’s look at what the monthly search volume is for the keywords “nonprofit near me” and “nonprofit volunteer opportunities near me.”
You can change your settings around as well when you research.
Here we’ve got ours set to look at the amount of times these searches are happening within the United States, on Google, in the last 12 months.
You can see the monthly search volume here. This will tell you if these keywords are worth ranking for or not.
One technical note you’ll need to keep in mind when researching keywords is to put the proper symbols around them.
This is because there are 3 different match types on Google including:
- broad match
- phrase match
- exact match
Here’s our “What is PPC” post that clearly explains all 3 of those match types and how to enter them into Google.
Another thing you’ll need to keep in mind in regards to keyword research for SEO is relevancy vs search volume.
For example, the keyword “fun friendly nonprofit for women in Ducktown Tennessee” might be very relevant and specific to your business.
But, it may have little to no searches- meaning nobody is typing that into Google from month to month.
This is where Google’s Keyword Planner becomes extremely helpful in showing you exactly how often any given keyword is being searched.
Now the only other thing to note is that performing SEO takes time.
So if you want a quicker nonprofit marketing strategy where you can show up at the top of the search results, keep reading as we will tell you here in a little bit.
Strategy 3: Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute says:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The benefit of publishing content on your website is two-fold:
- It goes hand in hand with your SEO efforts and helps to boost your SEO rankings.
- It provides the value and information your potential supporters are often looking for to help them decide which nonprofit to work with.
Let’s look back at the nonprofit we shared earlier of Compassion International.
If you remember, one of the main tabs on their homepage was their blog.
Right out of the gates we see that they have relevant news as it relates to their work and their sponsors.
After that, they have a mix of informative blogs, light-hearted blogs, and updates.
And they have posts separated by categories on the right-hand side to help readers find information by topic.
They can also find information by the country their sponsored child is from.
This immediately signals to their visitors that their blog is current.
It’s regularly updated, easy to navigate, and will provide helpful pieces of information to readers.
So, what kind of topics can be included in content marketing for nonprofits?
Well, here are some content marketing ideas for nonprofits to get you started:
- Write about your volunteers or staff + how they help.
- Write about the people you’re helping or the problem you’re solving.
- Recap your events or big volunteering opportunities.
- Break down where donations go + how they’re used to help others.
- Highlight any testimonials or positive outcomes that have happened as a result of your efforts.
Once you have some relevant content published on your website, you can link it to your social media to boost your nonprofit digital marketing campaigns.
Social media is a powerful tool for generating awareness and building trust in your brand.
Now we have tons of posts on social media marketing, social media management, social media updates, and more that go over all the introductory things.
But in this post, we’re specifically going to cover social media for nonprofits.
When it comes to laying out a social media marketing plan for nonprofit organizations, the first thing you want to think about is who your target audience is.
That is because it will help you identify the best social media platforms you need to be on.
For instance, Pinterest is predominantly used by women. So if your target audience is mostly women, that may be a good place to start.
But once you’ve completed your research and know which social media platforms you want to use to market your nonprofit, here’s what to do next.
These are the top 4 things you want to make sure your nonprofit marketing strategy in social media includes:
a. Unified branding across all your platforms
Sometimes we see business owners making the mistake of using their own personal accounts to promote their nonprofit.
This is especially true when the nonprofit is smaller or brand new.
But this can confuse and ultimately deter people who are researching your nonprofit.
Make sure all of your accounts look official and professional and contain the same branding across the board.
b. Regular postings
One of the biggest ways to lose out on followers and engagement on social media is for your account to look like it has virtual cobwebs.
This means when the most recent post is from months or years ago.
Social media is a real-time resource, so if you haven’t posted on there in a while, it could look like you’re not operational anymore.
That fact combined with society’s ever-decreasing attention spans means people will keep scrolling without giving your page a second thought.
So, show potential supporters that your nonprofit is still alive and well with regularly updated social media accounts.
According to Statista, 27% of people (18 years old and above) worldwide watch more than 10 hours of online videos a week.
HubSpot said 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service through videos.
And lastly, Insivia said viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text.
Those are just 3 of many statistics out there that show how and why social media video is so important in your marketing- and the numbers just grow every year.
Videos are a great way to accomplish all of the goals we talked about in content marketing but through videos.
A video is also known as a medium that is likely to retain people’s attention and help them retain the information.
Now, one hesitation we hear a lot when it comes to nonprofits making videos is lack of budget or know-how.
But let us assure you, you don’t need a Hollywood film budget to create effective videos, especially not on social media.
If you have a smartphone, you can make videos.
A lot of social media platforms, like Instagram, have built-in video-editing tools so that you can:
…your videos all right there within the app.
As an example, here’s a quick look at Compassion’s Instagram, where we can also see all their IGTVs which are long-form videos on Instagram.
The key thing to know as a nonprofit is that social media advertising platforms like Facebook Ads Manager usually have nonprofit interests you can target.
This means you can pay Facebook to push your content to people who are specifically interested in nonprofits and volunteering.
This content will direct them to your website.
The results we showed at the beginning of this post were from social media advertising.
And beyond just targeting based on interests in a nonprofit or volunteering, you can target based on interests in your specific cause.
Furthermore, if you already have a sizable email list of say 1,000 or more subscribers who support your nonprofit, you can upload that list to Facebook.
And then, Facebook will find more people who “look like” your current volunteers in what’s called a Lookalike audience.
“A Lookalike Audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your best existing customers.”
This is often a quick and inexpensive way to acquire new donors and advocates for your nonprofit.
Strategy 5: PPC Marketing
Remember earlier when we said there’s a faster way to show up at the top of the search results?
It’s through PPC (or pay-per-click) marketing.
PPC is also synonymous with SEM or Search Engine Marketing.
It’s another method to help your nonprofit organization to appear at the top of the search engine results.
So what makes it different from SEO?
PPC puts your website in the search results faster, and at a cost.
Look at the Google results that appeared for us when we typed in social media management company.
These first few results that have the Ad label beneath them are PPC ads.
The first organic result that is not marked as an ad is a result of SEO.
You’ll want to perform all the same keyword research that we talked about for SEO, for PPC.
But this time, you’ll want to also pay attention to the competition, bidding, and average cost per click.
That is because you’re paying Google to show your website instead of performing all of the SEO efforts on your own.
A recent article said 41% of clicks in Google searches go to the top three sponsored ads,.
So it’s definitely worth looking into as a nonprofit marketing method.
Now you may be asking which is better for your nonprofit, SEO or SEM?
Here’s our post that tackles SEO vs SEM to help you answer that question.
But in short, neither is really better than the other – it just depends on your needs, your timeline, and your budget.
So those are our top 5 nonprofit marketing strategies!
But of course, there are so many other digital marketing strategies you can leverage outside of just these 5.
And if you need more help with any of these digital marketing strategies and more, simply contact us today to get started!