Most people think of and treat nonprofit organizations differently from the average business. That even extends to nonprofit leaders and professionals. We have a unique set of expectations for how charities are supposed to operate.
That’s fine to a degree. Nonprofits are different from for-profit corporations, with different motivations and outcomes. But for charitable organizations to be successful they still need to hold themselves to a high standard.
For example, nonprofits can’t afford to overlook digital marketing. Many charities get away with outdated websites or poor online reviews. Donors are forgiving but only up to an extent. Your nonprofit can greatly benefit from better digital marketing for several reasons.
Digital Marketing Challenges for Nonprofits
Before we address the benefits, let’s be honest about why nonprofit organizations often fall short online. There are several challenges the average charity faces that can hold them back.
- Limited budget. Charities operate on thin financial margins because most of their revenue goes towards their mission. However, they can see larger returns when an appropriate budget is spent on proper marketing.
- Limited expertise. With limited time and resources, it makes sense that nonprofits aren’t able to stay up to date with marketing trends. It’s hard enough to keep up with a healthy budget and staff.
These limitations don’t describe every nonprofit, but it’s true for most. Thankfully, there are enough benefits to justify the short-term cost for the long-term benefits.
1. Better Understand Your Audience
Effective digital marketing is about understanding your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What challenges do they face? How can you help them?
Getting the right answers to these questions takes time and research. However, it will guide your marketing and force your organization to keep in touch with the people you serve.
This isn’t limited to the audience served by your nonprofit’s mission. It should also include your volunteers, supporting foundations, individual donors, and sponsor businesses. Anyone who interacts with your organization can be communicated with a targeted message.
2. Clarify and Communicate Your Mission
Perhaps the biggest difference between charitable organizations and for-profit businesses is your mission. Corporations aim to increase their revenue and shareholder value, but nonprofits seek to make a positive difference in their community and the world.
That mission can help you stand out online. At the same time, digital marketing platforms can help you elevate that mission to reach more people. This is your chance to tell their story.
Not only does this mean reaching new audiences (we’ll get to that momentarily), but it also means communicating with the people already within your organization—especially existing volunteers and donors.
3. Expand Your Awareness and Reach
Nonprofits thrive when more people are involved. To grow your organization, you need to increase your brand’s awareness and how many people support your mission. Building a solid online presence is certainly a way to achieve those ends.
That begins with a solid website, growing an active email list, sharing valuable online content, and engaging a community with social media. There’s a lot involved in each of those steps, but the overall goal is to make your presence known and share what you do.
4. Engage Your Volunteers and Donors
Each of these online platforms is a chance to keep your existing audience engaged. Encourage your volunteers, donors, and corporate partners to engage with your organization online.
Get them to sign up for your email list. Ask them to follow you on social media. And know that they’ll likely visit your website frequently if you’re posting valuable content there, such as blog posts and business resources.
Beyond keeping them informed, this is their chance to promote your cause. The beauty of digital marketing is that it’s a two-way street. Your supporters can continue to support you by sharing these channels with their personal audiences.
Ultimately, your goal is to grow your organization and serve more people. No nonprofit can do this without a steady stream of donations. An effective marketing presence helps make that more possible.
You likely won’t be able to jettison your annual events, direct mail pieces, or other traditional solicitations. But online donations provide another avenue for financial support. Even better, online and mobile donations are the two fastest-growing ways people give.
Secure a functioning means of collecting online donations. Make it visible on your website. Ask for donations (occasionally) via email and social media. When wrapped in a thoughtful strategy, this can help to grow your fundraising capacity.
Top Nonprofit Marketing Resources
Looking for even more resources on getting started with digital marketing? We’ve collected a few of our favorite articles and blogs on the subject.
Still need advice or support when it comes to digital marketing? At GreenMellen, we’ve helped a number of local nonprofits to see success online. This also includes many faith-based communities and advocacy groups.
We’d love the opportunity to help your charitable organization, too. Just reach out to us to start a conversation!