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Digital marketing strategies for your nonprofit

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Sami, the founder of The First Click, joins Matt on Beyond The Donation to share tips on marketing in the nonprofit sphere.

In today's digital age, effective marketing helps a nonprofit engage with donors and drive meaningful impact. Here are 5 key takeaways to help boost your nonprofit’s digital marketing from Sami’s interview:

1. Tie your digital marketing to the goals of your nonprofit

There are so many opportunities to share about your nonprofit online. But where should you start? What platforms make the most sense?

It’s overwhelming to take in the sea of information available and weigh the opinions of your board and community. Plus, you’ve got your own preferences and opinions. How do you decide what channels should be the priority? You might love writing a blog or email newsletter, but do you want to create a TikTok account?

It’s important to consider the goals you have in marketing your nonprofit. Then you can honestly assess which platforms and strategies will best help you achieve those goals.

“We know we need a website. We think we have to be on every social media platform. There are all these things that people tell us we should be doing. And we get excited about some because it's something fun that we want to do, as opposed to saying, ‘How would this strategy actually help us reach the goals that we're trying to achieve?’”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Vanity metrics, like social media followers or likes, can make us feel good, but are they moving the needle when it comes to donor conversion? Do they help with brand awareness? You can’t know if a marketing strategy is working for your nonprofit without knowing the target goal.

Actionable Step: Define your goals

What are the current goals of your nonprofit? Are you new and trying to grow brand awareness? Is your nonprofit making a big donor engagement push? Are you trying to get donors to convert from mailing checks to giving online?

Define your specific goals, so that you are moving in the right direction with digital marketing efforts for your nonprofit.

2. Create a compelling website

Keep it simple

If you’re just building your nonprofit’s first website, then keep it simple. Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to have the basics like an about section, how to connect with you, and an embeddable form.

“What I recommend if you’re just getting started or if you’re newer is having a simple one-page website that talks about your mission, talks about how people can connect with you is totally fine. In fact, I would encourage it. Until you know exactly how it is that people come in contact with you and how they engage with you, you’re going to have to redo your website 2-3 times.”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

If you are a more established nonprofit, then connect with your team to create a donor journey map. This helps your nonprofit understand the typical journey your donors take and how to market to them. Look at what content they are already interacting with and how they use your current website. What are the common conversations you are having with donors? What objections are you hearing from your constituents or why do they say that they give?

Actionable step: Prioritize the fundamentals and do them well

An easy-to-navigate and up-to-date website helps your donors know that you are an active and credible organization. Use language that aligns with your brand and mission. Make sure that your online giving pages are accessible and help convert donors.

Use language that connects with your donors

Often in the nonprofit sphere, it’s easy to get caught up in telling the story of your organization. While it’s important to be transparent about the work you’re doing, you also need to speak to the motivations of those visiting your page. Part of effective marketing is knowing who your nonprofit is speaking to.

“So as nonprofits, we're used to talking about all of the good we're doing. Instead of talking to the donors, [as] if we were an e-comm store talking to the customer who's going to buy our tennis shoes, right? We want to use our website to speak to the motivations of why the donors give or why people sign up for our services. Especially on the homepage, really speaking to the motivation of the visitor is critical.”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Actionable step: Know your constituents

Take the time to know your constituents and donors, so that you can speak to their motivations. Understand what drives them and what channels of communication work well for who they are.

3. Cut through the digital noise

Embrace your nonprofit’s uniqueness

There are other nonprofit’s out there doing similar work to the work that your organization does. How do you get your name out there and grow your donor base with so much competition? It’s easy to get caught up in comparison. This nonprofit does XYZ this way, and that nonprofit is doing this thing that we aren’t. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be you versus them.

“Understanding that you do what you do in a way that is uniquely you and that that's okay, and you're running your own race.”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Build trust

It takes more effort to build trust as a nonprofit than it does as a for-profit. Part of building trust is sharing about your nonprofit. Regular updates about fundraising campaigns and the work you are doing, help your donors know that you are using donated funds appropriately.

“If I donate to an organization, give them 20 bucks, and then I never hear from them again, I'm done. And then I'm telling all my friends not to go donate to that organization as well, right?”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Actionable Step: Create a content plan

First, decide which channels you want to share on. And then, make a plan to share consistently. Whether it’s once a quarter, once a month, or once a week, a consistent plan helps you to build trust. Your donors know when to expect to hear from you and you keep your information up-to-date.

4. Leverage social media to help with marketing your nonprofit

Marketing your nonprofit with the algorithm in mind

Algorithms change on a whim and what worked one day might not work the next, but it could work again a week later. We don’t really know exactly what is going to work or when the algorithm will change.

What we do know is that social media platforms are designed to keep you on the platform. Instead of linking out to your page, you want to focus on creating genuine content that encourages engagement. Ask questions that get your followers to respond to a post or message you. Make sure that you are actively engaging with those followers who respond to you.

Create a common brand and voice

As a nonprofit, you have access to Canva Pro for free to help with your marketing. Using Canva, you can create beautiful graphics that align with your nonprofit’s brand. Having a consistent brand helps when people are scrolling social media. If they see something and immediately identify it as being part of your nonprofit, that can encourage them to stop and read it.

“Your branding is important because you want people when they're scrolling to say, ‘Oh, yeah. This is an organization that I like, I want to stop and read this.’ As opposed to having it blend in with everything else.”
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Actionable Step: Create a promo kit

Create a promo kit for events and a general kit for donors, board members, and volunteers. These kits include branded images and information to make creating a social media post easier for your donors. Then you can ask those who contribute to your organization to share their why.

Include information like:

  • Your mission statement
  • Impactful bullet points about your organization
  • Sample images and copy
  • Ideas for TikTok and Reels
  • Social media handles
  • Sample hashtags

5. Remember, marketing your nonprofit takes time

It’s hard to be patient, but marketing your nonprofit in the digital space is a long-game endeavor.

You have to think about your short-term and your long-term goals because marketing in the digital space is a long-term strategy. Content marketing is not something that's going to happen overnight.
-Sami on Beyond the Donation Ep. 12

Be patient as you build your nonprofit’s brand. And remember as you share about your nonprofit, there will be people who connect with the important work that you’re doing!

What is First Click?

Sami Bedell-Mulhorn founder of First Click a nonprofit digital marketing organization
Sami, founder of First Click

First Click focuses on digital marketing strategies, making web content and email marketing accessible to nonprofits. Through free resources, courses, and 1:1 consultations, First Click helps small to medium nonprofits get more traffic to their website, convert them to donors, and grow donor retention.

Elisha Ford
Content Writer
Written by
Elisha Ford
Content Writer

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