Charitable and not-for-profit organizations face a very particular set of challenges: Deliver as much money into providing core services, using as little resources as possible. These organizations typically run very lean and are held accountable for every dollar spent, which makes it all the more important to ensure your nonprofits’ digital marketing activities are running efficiently.
Even with minimal resources, including time, staffing, and funds, nonprofits and charitable organizations still need to create valuable experiences that achieve their objectives, such as:
Raise awareness of an organization and cause
Attract new donors
Re-engage with previous donors
Inspire a community and truly make a difference
With so many objectives to achieve, optimizing your nonprofit’s digital marketing activities will help your team to focus on the key things that matter.
Digital marketing channels for nonprofit organizations
Creating an omnichannel digital marketing plan will allow your nonprofit organization to speak to potential and current donors in their preferred channel. An entwined combination of activities will give your nonprofit the opportunity to reach people at various touch points.
Using a Nonprofit marketing software like Ortto will allow you to collect and collate that information to see these donors in a single view. This will unlock the ability to deliver hyper-personalized experiences at scale, with the aim of achieving the objectives mentioned above.
Email marketing still remains as one of the most effective digital marketing channels, for both nonprofits and profitable organizations. The number of emails sent daily is consistently rising, even still, email engagement has also increased, with 78% of marketers seeing this over the last year.
For nonprofits specifically, email marketing is a powerful tool to nurture donor relationships, welcome newcomers, and provide specialized content for recipients. In an industry that is time poor, automating email marketing is essential to long-term success.
Make sure you are reaching your potential and current donors on the social media platform they’re already using. Use your customer data to find out where your donors like to hang out, and spend your precious time and resources thriving in those channels. For example if your data shows Instagram and Twitter are the highest engaged platforms, focus your energy into those rather than wasting resources on LinkedIn.
That way you know your messages and content are being distributed to the right audiences, in the right place. In saying that, if you are looking to reach new donors, say a younger generation, holding a social media audit and tracking your key social media metrics will help you get a sense of where your time can be better spent. Plus there's always the ability to post your existing content on other platforms to test the waters without needing to generate new content.
As more people spend their time on social media, it seems like the natural next step to introduce a donation function. Meta, who own Facebook and Instagram among others, have created a Charitable Giving program that your nonprofit can be part of. This means users can donate to your organization directly from Facebook or Instagram. It can also allow your followers to create and link their own fundraising campaigns on behalf of your nonprofit organization. Instagram uses donation buttons and stickers to allow users to donate up to $2,500 to your organization.
Search engine optimization
If you have not yet joined the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then you’re missing out. While SEO is important to all organizations, a locally-based nonprofit will see incredible impact and value by localizing their SEO strategy.
This is a brilliant digital marketing channel for your nonprofit organization as it places your website in front of people if they are searching online for something similar. The aim is to have your website shown within the top 3 results on the SERPs (search engine results pages). That’s where the majority of clicks happen, in fact those top 3 spots receive 75.1% of all clicks. Think of the amount of donors able to discover your not-for-profit.
SEO can be a long game, but by optimizing your website and content for organic performance now, you’ll spend less on acquisition costs down the track.
Content marketing can seem like a never-ending task as you want to create meaningful, engaging content your donors will care about, while maintaining your existing content to ensure it is up-to-date and relevant in order to rank in search results.
The most common form of content marketing for a nonprofit organization includes blog posts, videos and case studies. Other forms of content are infographics, ebooks, and white papers.
No matter the type of content, focus on your audience’s needs and go for quality over quantity. Great content is actionable (for example signing a petition, asking for donations) and be self-contained, ensuring your audience has all the necessary information to go ahead and follow the call to action..
Content marketing done correctly can achieve the following:
Educate your audiences whether its company news, milestones, your cause;
Build brand awareness and create loyalty among donors
Bring in new visitors, subscribers or donors into your funnel;
Create shareable content - a version of public relations and;
Be repurposed for use for other types of media, saving time and resources of your team.
7 Fundamentals to master in your nonprofit digital marketing plan.
Know your audience
In order to create meaningful content, you need to understand who your audience is. A customer data platform like Ortto can be used to collect and consolidate your audience’s first-party data, allowing you to see a single view of each of your donors.
By bringing together all their behavioral, transactional (donations) and customer data from a range of different sources, it can be used to activate your audiences and deliver truly remarkable customer experiences that will be tailored to the individual.
For example, once collected, your customer data can be segmented into smaller groups like;
Loyal donors: donated more than 10 times in the last 12 months
One-Time Donors: donated just once in their customer lifetime
Quiet Donor: has not donated in the last 12 months.
From here you can then create specific messaging to fit in with the individual group. This is just the tip of the iceberg, Ortto’s data unification and filtering capabilities will allow you to slice, dice, and segment your audience any way you please.
Customer journey mapping
A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience that your customer (i.e. your donor) will have with your nonprofit organization.
Creating a customer journey map helps businesses understand how people use their product (and their pain points), in order to design a better user experience — and the same principle applies to not-for-profit organizations.
Customer journey mapping can help your not-for-profit organization:
Incentivize fundraisers to raise more money:
Through personalization tools categorize donors and send personalized communications (or reward them) based on variables such as amount raised.
Re-engage donors who have previously donated: Ensure your donation process is a positive (and personalized) experience that your donor is happy to repeat. Using certain campaigns, for example, to re-engage with former leads from past fundraising efforts, thus making the donation process highly personalized for old and new donors.
Optimize your donation page
If users are visiting your site and reach your donation page, the donation process needs to be as simple and streamlined as possible.
It can take a lot of resources for that user to reach this particular page, and you don’t want to lose them when you're so close to the finish line.
To optimize your donation page there are a few must-haves to incorporate today;
Is your donation page easy to use on any device? Some of your potential or current users may prefer one device over another, we don’t want to shut that potential donation door because your mobile site is clunky and harder to use.
How many clicks does it take to donate? The rule here is the fewer clicks the better. If the process becomes too complicated then the chance of your customer leaving grows significantly.
Onboard recurring donors ASAP
Just like most online industries, the dream customer is one who comes back time and time again. There is no difference to the nonprofit world.
Once you find a donor who believes in your organization and is willing to consistently donate and spread the good word, nurturing relationship should be paramount to your digital marketing strategy.
The onboarding process for new donors should not be a tedious and overwhelming experience. Only gather information that is actually needed. First-party data will be very valuable and, once collected, you can use it to build out your donor personas further to provide a more personalized experience and create lookalike audiences to target.
Understanding donor behaviors and actions will help nonprofit marketers target them with the right message, on the right device, at the right time.
Increase your payment options
There are more payment options available to people than ever before. Creating payment choice to your potential donors, will reduce potential abandonment from the website.
For donor ease, you can always add in an extra button during check out which can offer a recurring payment every month. This is a great way for your customers to donate but without the friction point of logging on and doing it. It’s recommended though, to make sure this is clear to the customer, full transparency is always the best way to go.
Whether you are offering credit/debit cards, paypal, ‘buy now, pay later’, or even cryptocurrency options, there is one thing that remains constant: Ensure they are all secure methods for your donor to use. Always provide peace of mind to your donors.
You need to measure your nonprofit digital marketing plans to ensure you are generating the ROI needed for your organization to thrive and provide much-needed care and services to those in need.
There are a few key metrics that will assist you in understanding what is working, and what needs to be revitalized or even paused.
The key metrics to pay attention to are shared below, and divided into their different digital marketing channels.
Open Rate - The percentage of recipients who opened your email. Are your subject lines enticing enough for your donors to open your email?
Click-through Rate - The percentage of recipients who clicked at least one link within your email. Is the content within your email engaging enough for your email recipients to take action?
Engagement - This includes likes, reactions, shares and comments. Helping you to see if the content you're posting is grabbing the attention of your followers.
Follower Growth - This can be deemed a vanity metric, however the more people who follow you, the more eyes on your content. Plus it can create a sense of social proof.
Page Views - This is the traffic visiting your page, providing great insight into your visitor behaviors and online experiences.
Bounce rate - The amount of visitors to your website who visit one page then leave. This can indicate a poor user experience.
Device type - Know what the preferred device your visitors choose to visit your website.
It’s all about marketing automation
A marketing automation solution is the key to helping your not-for-profit organization save precious time and energy. By automating menial processes such as sending newsletters, triggering journeys based on donor actions, and qualifying new potential donors, you can allocate your time and cost savings towards the thing that really matters most: your cause.
Additionally, a marketing automation tool like Ortto provides your not-for-profit organization countless opportunities to connect with your donors through multiple channels.
These channels may include your website, email newsletters, social media channels, pop-ups and more. The sum of all these parts will provide a holistic and complete customer journey, to interact with your donors at each stage.
We’re here to streamline your digital marketing activities to assist in achieving your goals. By following these 5 simple automation strategies, it can alleviate time for your organization to focus on the bigger picture. Your cause.
Welcome new donors
Congratulations! A brand new donor has just donated to your cause! The fact that someone has made a financial contribution to your not-for-profit organization is a good thing — and an occasion worth celebrating.
One-time donations are great, but repeated donations are even better; all too often, first-time donors never return to make another contribution. In fact, a study by the Urban Institute suggests that only 27% of first-time donors stay with an organization.To encourage new donors to donate again, automate a customer journey to welcome your new donor to the cause using personalization variables.
A ‘welcome donor’ journey is designed to welcome new donors, reduce donor remorse, and maintain ongoing engagement. Comprising of an initial welcome email or SMS (depending on their preference) to thank the person for becoming a donor, followed by a series of emails with helpful information delivered over time.
Creating an effective automation workflow like this to welcome new donors can be great for you and your recipient — it prevents you from having to manually send out every email and it means your recipient will get all their personalized emails at the right time.
Nurture enquiries into donors
For your not-for-profit organization or charity to grow its impact, your marketing strategy must involve acquiring new donors. Donor acquisition is tricky, yet an essential piece of the nonprofit puzzle, especially for organizations currently in their growth phase and don’t have many donors to retain just yet.
Fine tuning your donor acquisition strategy is a big piece of the puzzle. Instead of simply asking people to fill out a lead form, sending them one single email, and expecting them to suddenly sign up to do what you want, you must focus on building and nurturing a relationship.
This can be done by using an email content funnel to adapt your communications to the actions they take and preferences they indicate. For example, leads are added to this customer journey when they fill out a form on your website, expressing their interest in donating. They are then sent a welcome email, thanking them for their interest, along with a link to make their donation. Leads that haven’t opened their welcome email after 2 days are sent a follow-up email. A subsequent SMS is then sent if the emails remain unopened after 3 days.
As soon as a contact donates, they will be removed from this journey and entered into a different segment, so they can be nurtured in another way. For example, a former donor re-engagement journey.
Retain existing donors by staying in touch
Every not-for-profit organization understands that the cost of acquiring new donors is more than the cost of keeping existing donors. And while it’s great to have a pool of wonderful people who have chosen to support your cause, it’s important not to take them for granted.
What many not-for-profit organizations don’t realize is that a donor’s decision to disengage can occur as soon as they’ve made their first donation. Their experience with your donation process can impact whether or not they will donate again.
In other words, if your donation process isn’t an experience that your donor wants to repeat, they’re unlikely to want to donate again.Here are some ways you can improve your donation process:
Keep donation forms short, only asking the essentials to shorten the time it takes for donors to make a donation
Offer multiple channels for donations so donors can choose the option that’s most convenient for them
Revive your previous years’ donor pool by sending them personalized communications, highlighting past experiences and data points that you may have in your CRM (for example, location)
Even by automating the process of keeping in touch with existing donors via a regular newsletter, you will experience the power of personalized communications.
By continually providing updates on the impact of their fundraising activities, donors are more likely to re-engage and participate in your next campaign. The newsletter is also sent based on the location of each donor, to ensure they receive it at the right time rather than at 3 am in their timezone.
Encourage your donors to reach donation milestones
Improving your donor retention rate involves ensuring a healthy pool of loyal donors to depend on — and the power of appreciation can go a long way in building this donor loyalty.
Your not-for-profit organization can reward donors who have contributed a certain amount of money to your cause, and it can all be automated.
In our first example, we want to reward a donor who has contributed $100 or more to your cause. As soon as they make an online donation, a pop-up message will appear on your website, thanking them for their donation and letting them know they’ll receive a gift for their loyalty.
If the donor’s postal address isn’t on file, a follow-up email will be sent with a form to confirm their address. Finally, an SMS is sent to the donor, letting them know their gift is on the way.
In the second example, our aim is to reward high-performing donors via a competition. When a donor is about to reach a donation milestone (for example, $300), an email is sent to thank them for their support and encourage them to donate more.
To further incentivize them, we will also let them know that if they raise an additional $50, they will enter a draw to win a prize, sponsored by a corporate sponsor. After a few days, we use a condition check to see if they’ve reached the donation milestone. If they have, an SMS is sent to let them know that they’ve been entered in the draw to win; if they haven’t, we simply send them a reminder email to give them one more chance to donate.
Re-engage former donors
Many not-for-profit organizations constantly lose donors and attrition is inevitable, with Non-profit Hub stating the average donor relationship lasting around 5 years. If your not-for-profit organization loses 7 out of 10 new donors each year, most of the new donors you’ll get will just be replacing the old ones — and this makes it difficult to grow and scale.
We’ve already discussed how you can revive your previous years’ donor pool thanks to the power of personalized communications. In this example, we bring personalization into the equation again; this time, contacts receive a personalized “thank you” email every time they donate.This journey also includes condition checks to segment donors based on how much they donated and uses that information to show a personalized pop-up message the next time that donor visits the website.
For example, if they donated $100, the pop-up message will thank them for their $100 gift, which has then been used to buy construction supplies for a water project. From here, we then send them follow-up emails, using the donation amount custom field for personalization.
Donation receipts send out
Charitable donations are tax deductible in most countries (we do recommend checking your local tax institutions.) Because of this, it makes it integral for your charity or nonprofit to send out donor receipts in a very timely manner.
It is best practice for registered nonprofits to send an acknowledgement and what can be deemed a donation receipt within 24-48 hours of the donor making the contribution. Regardless of the size of donation, an automated personalized message will show your organization’s gratitude and appreciation, plus create that first step into nurturing your new donor relationship.
By optimizing your digital marketing activities including automating simple donor communications, it will assist in boosting your not-for-profit organization’s mission.
There are many ways your not-for-profit organization can use the mentioned marketing automation to further your cause. In fact, we’ve seen our customers in the not-for-profit space do amazing things with our software to save time, raise more money, and reach more people.
By using a solution such as ortto to identify your most valuable donors and automate day-to-day tasks that take up significant time and resources, you can give your not-for-profit organization back the time and resources it needs to raise more funds and create more impact in the world.