5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Nonprofits

Drew Harper, CFA, CFP®

Sr. Wealth Advisor


How do you build a nonprofit’s engagement and brand awareness in a crowded field? Consider these five digital marketing strategies.

Women presenting in front of a white board.

How do you drive engagement for your nonprofit’s activities and increase brand awareness in a world where your audience is already inundated with information, pitches, and requests for donations? An effective digital marketing strategy can help by leveraging various online platforms that many of your donors are already using. Let’s explore five strategies to help boost your brand’s visibility in today’s highly competitive digital world.


Step 1.

Determine the digital marketing goals and timelines.

Set goals for your digital market strategy and tie the goals to a timeline. At Mercer Advisors we often talk about establishing SMART financial goals in the context of financial planning and the same logic applies to goals for nonprofits.

  • Specific – Acquire 20 new donors by increasing your email list by 200 people is a better goal than simply saying I want to grow my email list to get new donors. Make the goal specific and you’re more likely to hold yourself to it.
  • Measurable – Put numbers to each of your goals and make them concrete.
  • Attainable – Nobody likes setting a goal and failing to reach it. Set reasonable goals and increase them gradually over time.
  • Relevant – Spend some time understanding the meaning of the goal. What is it going to accomplish for you and the nonprofit?
  • Time-bound – Here’s where your timeline comes in. Set a date for reaching the goal.


Step 2.

Ensure your current website is set up for success.

At a very minimum, a website should include all relevant information about the nonprofit and include key contact information. Evergreen content that doesn’t need frequent updates is often preferable to breaking news type stories. Create inspiration by highlighting past success, and include an invitation to get involved with links to sign-up pages.


Step 3.

Identify your target audience.

Are you seeking to increase contributions from existing donors and their friends, acquaintances, and relatives? Or are you targeting a new audience and the general public? Determine who should receive general information about the organization and its purpose. Since personalized messages tend to resonate more than simply “Dear Donor” emails, segmenting audiences and creating targeted communication can help focus marketing efforts where they’re more likely to drive action.


Step 4.

Design communication pieces.

General information marketing should drive people to your website and email campaigns can help build greater awareness.  Share specific stories of the organization meeting its mission—targeted at current donors and highlighted on the website and in emails. Map out the organization’s values and future goals, and then explain the psychological benefits of participating.


Step 5.

Implement the digital marketing strategy.

Your timeline is the roadmap that dictates what courses of action to take and when. As you move your digital-marketing strategy forward, you’ll likely begin to receive emails and calls from existing or potential donors. Review the feedback. Then refine the strategy for the next go around.

As with any marketing effort, planning is essential if you want a digital strategy to deliver the right message to the intended audiences. Defining goals, improving your online presence, narrowing the target audience, crafting optimizing communication strategies, and implementing the strategy are five steps you can take today to help increase your nonprofit’s digital marketing presence tomorrow.

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