A Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Digital Marketing

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We know nonprofit work can be a difficult task to keep afloat. But you have a powerful tool, perfect for connecting with potential donors or people who share your values. With digital marketing, you can explore new and creative ways to reach people while at the same time using its potential to empower your organization’s mission to a whole new level. 

Even if you already have a solid digital marketing strategy, there is always room for improvement, especially if your organization’s Facebook profile needs an update after 10 years of collecting dust and game notifications. If you need a solid nonprofit digital marketing strategy, this guide will help you understand how to start in the world of social media while being true to yourself. 

Creating SMART goals for your nonprofit digital marketing strategy

Using SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) can benefit your organization’s digital marketing targets in no time. 

For instance, instead of saying, “We want to increase donations,” a SMART way of putting this would be, “We want to increase online donations by 20% over the next six months.” Let’s explore how SMART goals can be your blueprint for a successful nonprofit digital marketing strategy.

Specific

Your goal should be specific to clearly state your desired outcome, such as increasing monthly online donors, keeping track of your KPIs, growing your organic traffic, and many more. Rather than vaguely mentioning fundraising, for example, it targets a particular aspect of the organization’s fundraising, the online donors that can potentially benefit your work.

Measurable

The measurable part quantifies your specific goals into numbers to track what’s growing and what’s not. Measurable goals facilitate data collection and decision-making based on the analysis of the results, but you don’t need to be an expert in this; simply see what’s working and what’s not and change it according to your specific needs. 

Achievable

An achievable goal should be ambitious yet realistic. In our previous example, a 30% increase in online donors is challenging but attainable for a nonprofit organization, given it implements effective digital marketing strategies. Your goals should neither be too optimistic (i.e., receiving a million-dollar donation in 2 days) nor poorly aligned with your specific needs. Set realistic bounds with yourself, what you have, and what you can work with. 

Relevant

Your goals must be highly relevant to the organization’s mission and overall strategy. For example, increasing funding allows your organization to expand its programs, create new initiatives, and ultimately, significantly impact your community, making profound changes and positively impacting lives.

Time-bound

A time-bound goal has a deadline and is deeply linked with how achievable it is. The urgency helps you maintain focus. Creating time-bound goals is essential to understanding how long a project will take you within your campaign. 

This constraint helps the organization plan and prioritize its resources, campaigns, and strategies effectively to reach the goal in the specified period. It also helps you understand what’s a priority and what’s not. For example, fundraising for Christmas is a priority time-bound goal, contrary to creating an urban garden in the middle of January. 

Smart goals sheet

SMART

S – Specific: Determine exactly what you’re aiming for.

M – Measurable: You’ll need to track your progress with tangible numbers.

A – Achievable: Keep your goals ambitious but realistic. 

R – Relevant: Ensure your goals align with your overall mission.

T – Time-bound: Every goal needs a deadline.

Your target audience: Understanding who you’re talking to

Successful digital marketing depends on knowing your audience’s interests, demographics, behavior, and preferences. You may know that nonprofit organizations often have diverse audiences ranging from donors and volunteers to beneficiaries, each requiring a unique approach. 

However, their shared passion for a common goal can unite them under one marketing strategy. In order to reach the right audience, your mission and vision are crucial to keeping your organization’s true self through all your social media channels so you can connect with people who genuinely care about what you do. 

Honing your voice and your audience personas

A brand voice is a way to show who you are to the world of digital marketing. Think of it like you are creating a personality, or in more technical terms, a persona. The persona is who we are showing ourselves to the world, so be creative and authentic in how you share your organization’s identity on social media. 

After you create your persona, you can use tools in digital marketing, such as storytelling, where you show how your organization contributes to a positive change in your community using a unique brand voice. Remember, authenticity is crucial in communicating your message; showing who you truly are is an excellent way to connect with your targeted audience. 

Your message should be consistent across all platforms because you aim to create a brand with a unique voice and a unified message. For example, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has created a brand voice that emphasizes its mission to protect nature and wildlife, aiming to promote awareness and encourage conservation while keeping a brand voice that is informative, friendly, and action-oriented. 

Strategies to share your mission on different social media platforms

Facebook

Facebook is all about building and maintaining communities. You can use Facebook Groups to gather your community and stimulate discussions, gatherings, and meetings around your cause. Facebook also has fundraising tools that can be used to run donation drives.

A food bank organization, for example, could run a Facebook Live session showing the day-to-day operations of the food bank or conduct a Q&A session with a staff member or volunteer, taking questions directly from the community and answering them on their livestream. You can also involve your audience by sharing tips, employee recognition, or community initiatives you’re working on. 

X

X, formerly known as Twitter, is your go-to platform for short and informative messages. Here, you can share the good news, retweet a post made by your volunteers, or share real-time photos that show what you are doing and encourage supporters and staff to take their own pictures and tag your organization. On X, short and sweet tweets are the answer. 

Instagram

If you like a mix of photos and short videos, Instagram is what you are looking for. By crafting compelling captions and powerful reels, you can gain visibility and expand your audience to new heights fueled by the power of hashtags. Here, you can also interact with your audience by doing live Q&A or creating a “ask me anything” short video series to respond to all your audience’s questions. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your formal, professional social media platform. Here, you can connect with professionals working or dealing with similar issues you or your organization may have faced. By sharing official news, partnership announcements, projects, or job opportunities, you can expand your reach and connect with diverse professionals, from psychologists, engineers, and social workers to companies ready to fundraise for your next project.  

In every case, the nonprofit’s brand voice and mission should be at the forefront. That means using captions, photos, videos, and other content to reaffirm your mission, values, and the impact that your work is having.

Influencer marketing

You can also capitalize on the powerful tool of networking! Not only can you connect with potential workers, donors, etc., but you can also work with influencers to promote your organization’s values and persona while gaining views and potential followers. Connecting with the right influencer benefits everyone—it’s a partnership! 

Best nonprofit marketing campaigns 

Rotary International

Rotary International is a fantastic case of a nonprofit’s successful digital marketing implementation. A cornerstone of their strategy is all about enhancing their public image. The way Rotary sees it, their public image is shaped by multiple factors, from their members’ actions to general community activities and the tangible impact of their work. They understand that trust is engendered in a powerful public image, encouraging others to engage.

One of the ways they enhance their image is through the sharing of stories. And not just any stories, but ones that present Rotary members as people of action who make an observable, positive difference in the world. You can find these stories everywhere, from X to Instagram.

From websites, engaging on social media, speaking engagements, and event organization, Rotary’s action-oriented, member-centric approach to enhancing its public image is fundamental in broadening its reach. No stone is left unturned as they strive to strengthen their brand and build awareness of their club. 

American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross sets a remarkable example of how effective digital marketing can shape a nonprofit’s success. At the heart of their strategy is the improvement of their public image. They realize their public image isn’t just about what they do but about the stories of humanity, community aid, and the implications of their remarkable charity work. 

One of the significant ways they achieve this is through the powerful medium of storytelling. But these aren’t just any stories—they’re the tales of real heroes. Each of these stories vividly conveys the American Red Cross’s impact and core values, resonating with its audience on its website and across various digital platforms like X, Facebook, and YouTube.

The American Red Cross’s digital marketing strategy is all about showing the public the tangible, positive effects of their work, fostering a sense of unity, and inspiring others to participate. Their approach offers reliable insights for any nonprofit looking to build a powerful and effective digital marketing strategy.

Key takeaways: Follow best practices for your nonprofit digital marketing plan to maximize your impact. 

Now that you know why and how important digital marketing is for nonprofits, you have established your persona and brand voice, and you are SMART in approaching your digital goals, we want to share some best practices for you to implement in your next nonprofit digital marketing plan. Good luck! 

Capitalize on social media

Make your voice tall and proud with coverage on various social media platforms. Capitalize on X for the short and sweet content. Let your audience be captivated by your insightful monthly newsletter. The options are all yours. Remember, quality over quantity is what matters most. 

Remember to track everything!

Remember to keep an eye on your progress! Metrics, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs), help you determine if your digital marketing strategy is hitting the right spot. 

By tracking how many likes you’re getting on social media and how many people are visiting your Facebook profile or clicking on your newsletter emails, you’ll know whether you’re heading in the right direction or if there are tweaks you need to make. So, make KPIs your new best friend, and remember, achieving success is all about learning, improving, and growing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Digital marketing for nonprofits can strategically leverage online data insights to boost the organization’s visibility, attract donors, engage volunteers, and conduct effective fundraising campaigns. It utilizes SEO, social media, pay ads, and email marketing. These strategies can not only foster audience engagement but also offer cost-effective and measurable methods for brand awareness, creating a long-lasting impact on the digital world. 

Digital marketing provides a way to maintain constant contact, tell compelling stories, and inspire action. It’s a multi-channel approach that aligns with your supporters, ensuring a broader reach and more engagement for your day-to-day activities. It also facilitates the creation of long-term donor memberships and volunteers for lasting support, thus ensuring organizational sustainability along the path of your digital marketing strategy. 

Nonprofits allocate between 5% and 15% of their total budget to marketing. This covers content creation, social media ads, search engine marketing, and donor management tools. However, smaller organizations should allocate their resources closer to the 15% benchmark. Even though the initial investment may seem hefty, having a clear plan and tracking Return on Investment (ROI) consistently can take your organization to the next level! 

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Written by GRIN Contributor

GRIN is the pioneer behind the world’s first Creator Management platform built to support every brand’s journey to connecting with consumers through authentic creator relationships. Thousands of the world’s fastest-growing brands—including SKIMS, Warby Parker, Allbirds, Mejuri, and MVMT—use GRIN to make creators feel like trusted, empowered partners and work with them to build their brands into household names.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2024. All rights reserved.

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