Marketing Strategies For Nonprofits: Creating Return For Donors On A Budget


Unlike for-profit corporations, nonprofit organizations have much smaller budgets for marketing and advertising than some may anticipate. Unfortunately, many people tend to view these expenses as counter to the reasons they originally gave to a certain cause. As companies are forced to become more transparent in the age of clear and precise communication as well as more personal producer-consumer relationships, people are wanting to see their money go directly towards the receivers of work done by organizations which they decide to give to. Nowadays, these donations are seen more as an investment than just a gift. Although it is understandable that donors give to see results, nonprofits struggle with a lack of ability to grow their reach because of their hesitancy to fund campaigns which have the potential to do so.

If you are a nonprofit that is stuck in the gap between a lack of funding and a need for marketing your business, we have five key goals for you to identify and apply in order to push growth without breaking the bank.

1. Identify your audience and potential targets
Will they be individuals that have large amounts of expendable income, or is their donation very small but personal? Is this a cause that is relatable for the masses or for a specific niche group? Is the topic sensitive, political, or religious? All of these factors can determine where to find donors and how their attitudes towards giving may be influenced. The more you can characterize your audience as an individual, the more you can understand why they might want to continue to give or get behind your cause. Take their economic, demographic and social environment into consideration.

2. Know your targets and understand the psychology of their “giving” minds
Knowing who would most likely be willing to give to your cause or most related to the topic your organization bases itself upon is crucial to deciding how to reach donors. Depending on why they give and how much the issue actually impacts them, there are different ways of stewarding people, from very intimate communication to business structured interactions. These methods can range from a handwritten letter to a phone call to an email to an automatic thank you response post-donation. How you thank donors is a large indicator of what your organization stands for and how you value your audience. If you depend more on returning donors, make stewardship a priority when setting aside time and money for marketing.

3. Understand how to utilize digital media marketing strategies for your audience
Research has shown that online giving is growing exponentially for nonprofit organizations. In 2016, donations collected through online fundraising pages via google search, social media links, and website traffic accounted for 71% of all revenue of online giving. This means that today, people are donating through the internet more than ever before and online gifts are projected to continue to increase while revenue from traditional gifts given via phone, mail content, and email take a dip. Use this platform as an opportunity to further reach donors by directing them to marketing content directly after they have given. This could be in the form of a “read our story” prompt or even a “monthly giving program” push. You’ve already hooked them, why not make them want to give even more?

4. Know what type of message is most powerful for you to reach donors through
A cause worth giving to will be powerful. Whether it be the emotional testimony of a cancer survivor, the logical statistics that show how CO2 emissions are destroying our environment or the ethical questioning of one’s support for equal rights for women in the workplace, the people that will give have a connection with your cause; your biggest problem is knowing how to tap into that connection. Analyze the types of people who give and try to place yourself in their shoes. What would make me want to tell my friends to support this cause or is giving something I decided to do because of a community that encouraged me to do so? Persuade persuade persuade all while unfolding a genuine story.

5. Know how often you should reach out to donors
For-profit companies and nonprofit organizations alike never want their audiences to feel like their money is demanded or even truly necessary for the business to continue on. Think of the relationship like one between friends. Your donors should really want to give to your cause because they believe in it and know that results will be produced. There is a mutual understanding that both parties are benefitting from their gift, you as the nonprofit just have to turn that monetary gift into emotional and visual return through messaging. Show the big accomplishments that have been made which meet the monthly, yearly or ongoing goals of your organization. Push progress and connect to the donors by telling most precisely what their gift went towards and how much it meant to you. Use this as a platform to continue asking for more and show how this can even further make an impact.

In an effort to reflect a for-profit model, nonprofits should create more concrete long-term goals for donors to look forward to reaching. Making your audience understand that their donations have to have time to truly cultivate large results and a lasting impact is very important. This is a marketing strategy that every organization should implement in order to allow for more resources for producing growth.

Overall, nonprofit organizations have a unique opportunity to market to audiences that already feel connected to their businesses in some way. This means that their marketing and advertising efforts can be more personal and established. We hope that by using these 5 tips to capitalize on existing and potential donors will aid your organization in reaching individuals and companies, better targeting their reasons to give and increasing growth for resources which are crucial to creating return for donors.