Digital Marketing for Nonprofits 101

Digital Marketing

The digital revolution has reshaped the nonprofit sector. Online marketing campaigns have become a key ingredient in funding nonprofit actions from an often underestimated, but critical, donor base. Carla Cunha, Senior Account Director of Digital Marketing at Faircom New York, explains why digital marketing is so essential for nonprofits, what kind of people you can reach and how to retain them, and discusses some tips to maximize your digital campaigns. 

What You'll Learn

What is digital marketing? 

Digital marketing refers to all marketing techniques deployed with online tools to promote a brand or campaign. For a nonprofit organization, digital marketing is essential to reach new audiences. This can include maintaining a website or blog, advertising on social media, websites, search engines, or sending emails or text messages.  

One of the main focuses for digital marketing is getting to know the audience that you’re targeting. To succeed in email marketing, advertising and digital marketing in general, you have to get to know your audience and not just think you’re going to know what they want. It’s always that touch of personalization that you put into digital marketing campaigns that allows you to have a complete profile. The most important thing is to get to know your audience and put in front of them what they want to see and hear. 

What type of audiences do you typically reach with digital marketing? 

People of all ages. It depends on the platform. Typically, Facebook is now 45+, which few nonprofits are aware of. A lot of younger people are turning to Tik Tok or are still on Instagram. But older audiences are on Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to know, based on the data you see on your pages, who your action is aimed at. Here at Faircom New York, we look at who we’re talking to, what the demographics are by age, what their interests are, and how we can better communicate with them. 

Since digital marketing is aimed at different audiences, it’s important to have a personalized message for each type of person. Donors, in particular, don’t want to hear the same thing as non-donors. They are two different people: one is trying to get to know you and the other already knows you, so you don’t want to say the same thing to both. You want to make sure that it’s very personalized, like “hey, you’ve been a longtime supporter, thank you” or “hey, you’re getting to know us, here’s some information about the work we do, in this country, for this cause” and that is a way of keeping it more relevant to them!  

Is digital marketing helpful in retaining donors? If so, how? 

It depends on your approach, but most of the time it’s similar to direct mail. Stewardship is key to retention and this can be done digitally through quarterly newsletters, monthly thank you’s/updates, and alternating approaches to asking donors to make a monthly, mid-level or planned gift. Generally speaking, one-time donors have around a 30% retention rate for offline and online because they drop more frequently especially if they are an emergency-driven donor. Monthly donors retain much higher at 80% digitally.  

Which digital marketing tool gets the best results? 

In order, the best digital marketing tools are: 

  1. Email marketing. It is one of the main work horses for online revenue. About 15% of online revenue is raised through email marketing alone (M+R Benchmarks 2022).  
  2. Paid search and Google Grant. A mix of the two is ideal. They work well when strategized together.  
  3. Advertising on social media. However, it is a little bit behind in the paid advertising category, given all the changes, but Facebook remains the strongest platform for raising funds so far.  

Has COVID-19 impacted digital marketing? 

COVID-19 has greatly impacted digital marketing, but for the best! People from all age groups give more online now. Even older donors are more involved on digital platforms because of the pandemic shifting their payments online. Additionally, most older adults were homebound and learned how to better use digital tools because that is what kept them connected to their communities. 

What are your best tips for digital marketing? 

Always personalize, optimize, and test! Don’t assume. Get to know your audience. There are a lot of opportunities to ask questions, such as placing polls on social media, emailing your donors short surveys to ask how they feel, and overall, crafting more conversational messages on your ads to boost feedback/comments. 

Additional tips: 

  • Always say thank you! Engage and acknowledge supporters as much as you can, especially after campaigns.  
  • Create more video content. Video generates so much more engagement online, because it makes it easier to catch the audience’s attention – and to keep it! 

What are the biggest trends to follow in digital marketing in 2022? 

The main trend is video marketing, which is being given more emphasis because of platforms like Tik Tok and YouTube. Quizzes with more interactive content that pushes a user to think differently and spread awareness in a more creative and compelling way. Peer to peer fundraising continues to grow especially when it comes to fundraisers for virtual walks, birthdays and in honor/in memory of a loved one.  

And more personalization, including knowing their emails, names, membership anniversary, sending birthday messages, etc. Personalization of the overall user experience is becoming more popular.  

This also means adding more visual cues for people to understand what they must do to support your organization in a short amount of time. It’s all about maintaining attention, because people scroll on their phones and laptops all the time, and you’ll have to find innovative ways to stand out and make them stop scrolling. 

No matter your mission, digital marketing is essential to help you grow! Your cause is important to you and, with digital marketing, you can easily find and engage other people who share your values and who could support you in a cost-effective manner.  

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy, we are here to help you. Contact us. 

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About the author
Carla San Vicente
Senior Account Director of Digital Marketing at Faircom NY

Carla brings over 10 years of marketing experience to the FaircomNY team. From her time at Montclair State Campus Recreation, she helped re-brand and strengthen their digital presence on social media, web, and email. She offers a unique and personalized approach to digital marketing implementation and strategy. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. For leisure, she enjoys visiting museums, hiking, and an avid reader of social science books.

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