Digital Marketing for Nonprofits: 4 Trends You Should Know

Digital Marketing Nonprofit Trends

Digital marketing trends say a lot about donor habits and expectations. It’s crucial for nonprofits to stay up to date and adapt their strategies accordingly. We have prepared a list of 4 trends you should know in 2022.

What You'll Learn

These digital marketing trends were picked up by M+R Benchmarks in a large study that involved more than 187 organizations, providing us with invaluable insight into what is shaping nonprofit marketing and fundraising strategies today.

Nonprofits invest more in online advertising

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted fundraising professionals to accelerate the digitalization of their strategies. No longer able to organize in-person events, nonprofits had to find other ways to engage their supporters and seek out potential donors. This includes online advertising, a tool in which nonprofits invested 19% more in 2021 than in 2020.

Compared to direct mail, digital advertising on social media or on search engines is often a faster and cheaper way to promote a specific brand or campaign to a large number of people. This, coupled with the almost endless audience targeting possibilities, makes online advertising very popular and profitable.

Search ads get the best return

Reading that nonprofits invest more in online advertising, you will no doubt be tempted to do the same. But, before you start spending, you should know that fundraising results vary depending on the type of advertising.

Of course, the ideal strategy consists of combining advertising on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) with advertising on search engines, including  search ads and display ads. Search ads appear to users who are looking for information directly related to your work or mission, while display ads are paid placements that appear based on various targeting parameters.

Using all these channels at once will help reach more donors. However, for small organizations with a limited budget, it is best to focus on one or two types of advertising. You must consider the habits of the audience you want to target, but it’s also helpful to look at the average costs and returns on investment in the industry.

In 2021, return on ad spend (ROAS) was highest for search ads ($3.72). For display and social media ads, ROAS was $0.59 and $0.57, respectively. Facebook ads, in particular, are becoming more expensive

Email marketing: we can’t trust open rates

In 2021, the average open rate across all nonprofit email marketing (appeals, cultivations) was 22%. This is a 16% jump from the previous year, while most other key performance indicators declined. Click-through rates for fundraising emails decreased by 7%, and the average email response rate was down 11%.

Email Marketing Metrics 2022
Source: M+R Benchmarks, 2022.

So, what happened?

In the fall of 2021, Apple implemented new privacy protections for people using iOS devices like iPhones. With this update, iOS automatically loads images in email messages that are used to track opens, including before an email recipient opens the message. As a result, the open rate increases, but not the response rate.

There might be other factors that could explain the odd increase in open rates in 2021, but Apple’s update does play a role, which is why we don’t recommend relying on open rate  anymore to analyze email performance. Instead, nonprofits should focus on the click-through rate and the response rate.

Mobile-friendly websites generate more revenue

In 2022, you already know that your website is essential for brand-awareness and the overall growth of your organization. It is an easily accessible showcase for your nonprofit, where your prospects can learn more about the organization before converting into donors.

What’s new is that the majority (54%) of nonprofit website traffic comes from users on mobile devices, with 46% of traffic from users on desktop or laptop devices. Unfortunately, most nonprofits haven’t adapted their websites to this trend yet. How do we know? Well:

  • Users on desktop/laptop devices still make up most donation transactions (65%) and revenue (76%).
  • The average gift made on a desktop/laptop device was $75; for mobile users, the average gift was $46.

This trend can perhaps be explained by the fact that computer users are often older and more prone to give. Additionally, as the result of people staying home more during  the past two years, they used their computers more. However, we know that people of all ages are now increasingly comfortable with mobile devices and therefore it is crucial to make websites compatible with  mobile browsing – especially when it comes to the donation page. Read our tips to optimize giving by improving your donation platform.

Digital marketing changes quickly, and it can be hard to keep up with the best practices. At Faircom New York, we can help you! You can contact us at any time to learn more.

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About the author
Victoire Caroly
Senior Account Manager of Digital Marketing

Victoire has over 5 years of experience in communications and marketing applied to the philanthropic sector. Prior to joining Faircom as a Digital Marketing Associate in 2020, Victoire worked for a university foundation in Paris, France, where she helped strengthen the existing fundraising strategies, especially through social media and email marketing. Victoire is also a former intern of Faircom. In 2013 and 2015, she had the opportunity to help the team with various fundraising initiatives for clients such as SOS Sahel, Cousteau Society and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. Having worked in 4 different countries, Victoire brings to the team a unique range of experiences with nonprofits. Victoire is a graduate of Laval University (Quebec, Canada), where she completed a BA in International Studies and Modern Languages in 2015 and an MA in Public Relations in 2017.

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