Few organizations have benefited from the shift to digital media quite like nonprofits. They save thousands on mail costs, and unlike telemarketers and volunteers, their websites can promote their causes all day, every day. However, it takes more than just a website to generate support and donations.
The number of nonprofit organizations has increased dramatically over the last few decades, and as of 2015, there are 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States alone. While many of these organizations support worthy causes, this means that your organization needs to stand out if you want to attract donations and volunteers.
This page explains how nonprofit marketing is similar to—and different from—marketing for other organizations, and also offers a few suggestions for putting an Internet marketing strategy into action.
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Is digital marketing for nonprofits different?
Nonprofit organizations that market online see many of the same advantages enjoyed by for-profit businesses. Costs are lower, time to market is faster, and the pool of prospects is based more on expressed interest than on your best guesses. However, nonprofits have to deal with unique challenges that private sector businesses do not.
For one thing, your marketing costs are going to be lower because they have to be. When a for-profit business keeps its Internet marketing budget small, it’s only because decision makers are waiting to see a return on investment before allocating more. Nonprofit marketing budget are small because there’s typically less extra money to add.
Online marketing costs much less than, say, a direct mail campaign or a TV or radio ad, but low-cost is not the same as free. Pay-per-click and other ads still cost money to run, and content requires the services of writers and designers. This may cause your organization to focus on lower-cost marketing methods, maybe even forgoing traditional marketing methods for the most cost-effective online tactics.
Moreover, your content marketing strategy will need to focus on the cause and not the consumer. Businesses develop customer loyalty by entertaining and informing the public. Clothing retailers offer fashion tips, while tech companies might write about new software or answer tech support questions. As a nonprofit, your content should focus not on consumers’ fear or greed, but on their heartstrings.
Nonprofits should create content around the issues they’re trying to address: how many people are impacted, the causes and effects, inspirational or heartbreaking stories, and what the reader can do to help. Content shouldn’t be about the organization, either. Remember, nonprofits don’t exist to help themselves—they exist to help others.
3 ways nonprofits can use digital marketing
One of the advantages of online marketing is the Internet’s ability to perform many functions. It enables you to communicate with potential donors, share important resources with a broad audience, and collect funds. Of course, none of this is possible without the right tools and a steady level of commitment. If you want to increase donations, engagement, and awareness online, focus on the following steps:
1. Add simple donation tools
Your site tells your story, and hopefully motivates people to donate. They shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to take that final step. Yet, that’s what happens if your call to action ends with an address or printable donation form. Make your call to action page interactive and don’t run the risk of losing valuable gifts.
With online donation tools that enable people to donate using PayPal or credit cards—either online or via mobile devices—you make the giving process seamless. The easier the process, the more likely people are to do it. And considering that last Giving Tuesday generated 36 percent more online donations than the year before, it’s clear that today’s donors prefer the Internet.
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2. Share success stories via social media
One of the reasons people donate to worthy causes is to help create happy endings. Some donors are interested in the number of people served successfully, and others feel good hearing one success story at a time. Social media helps you share both kinds of stories.
Anecdotal stories are ideal for giving detailed accounts of how your organization is using funds. A story about one child, one family, or one veteran can show donors see the level and scope of services you provide. Statistics, on the other hand, create a larger view of the issue and the reach of your organization.
By showing potential donors how many people are served, how much money is spent and the long-term impact of your work, you assure them of the value of their donation. And as an added bonus, all social content is shareable, meaning that if social users are particularly moved, they can share your content with their friends.
3. Get listed on nonprofit directories
Unfortunately, not every dollar goes to its intended target. Some nonprofits don’t spend money well, giving more money to staff and administrative functions than to the people they’re trying to serve. Even worse, some “nonprofits” are just fronts for con artists trying to scam generous people. Your organization does neither, but people need to know that before they give. A listing in a nonprofit directory will assure them of that.
Sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar have helped millions of people give to worthy causes. A listing on one of these sites assures potential donors of your 501(c)3 status, the effectiveness of your programs, your ability to spend wisely, and your reporting and transparency capacity. The better people feel about your organization, the more likely they are to trust you with their giving dollars.
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So, is Internet marketing different for nonprofit organizations? In some ways—but the end goal is still the same: to generate as many dollars as possible with a limited budget.
If you need help making sure that your marketing efforts are generating the kind of support you need—financial and otherwise –to effectively serve your purpose, free to contact us. Our dedicated team of Internet marketers is more than happy to assist you in creating and implementing an effective online marketing strategy.
Want to speak with an expert? Call us at 888-601-5359