The best marketing strategies for nonprofit organizations

When you have a limited budget for boosting your message, it’s important to have a clear and precise strategy to ensure not a penny goes to waste. Here are some tips.


Nonprofits run on tight budgets and it can be tricky to raise awareness for your cause with limited funds. Thankfully, there are marketing strategies nonprofit organizations can implement to make the most of their pennies.

Here are some tools to engage with your audience and, hopefully, find new supporters and donors along the way:

1. Find free advertising on Google.

How would your nonprofit like to have $10,000 a month to spread the word about its cause every month? For qualified organizations, the Google Ad Grants program does just that. This in-kind advertising help could create awareness, recruit volunteers and garner donations.

Running and managing Google Ads takes some backend savvy, but with a daily budget of $329 for advertising along with a keyword cost per click max of $2, it will be worth the effort to take the time to learn how to share your story and mission.

One pitfall you want to avoid is failing to use all the money, as it does not accrue. Be sure to make every dollar count by using best pay-per-click practices, and have your volunteers learn how to use keywords, including short–tail keywords, middle-tail keywords, long-tail keywords, and negative keywords to make the most of your advertising dollars and reach the right audience.

There are certain requirements to qualify for the Google Ad Grants Program, such as holding 501(c)(3) status, having a website with a domain owned name and detailed and clear information on the nonprofit organization. Certain organizations, like hospitals, schools and government organizations do not qualify, but there is a separate Google program for education.

2. Promote your nonprofit on Facebook.

Facebook’s fundraising features for nonprofits include “donate” buttons and birthday fundraisers.

Over 750,000 nonprofits use Facebook Pages to share their cause and create awareness. Hootsuite notes that 1.47 billion people use Facebook daily and a nonprofit Page can share your message all over the world, including events and organized activities.

You will also want to consider creating a dedicated group for supporters and use Facebook’s fundraising tools to collect donations and allow their supporters to help raise funds.

If you are wondering if Facebook is the right social platform for your nonprofit, here are stats from Nonprofits Source:

  • Roughly 18% of donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools.
  • Some 88% say they are likely to give through Facebook fundraising in the future.
  • As much as 84% of Facebook users share to show their support for a cause and highlight issues that are important to them.

Facebook refers 29.4% of traffic to donation pages on #GivingTuesday. Like the Google Ad Grants Program, there are criteria nonprofits need to meet.

3. Create great visual content.

According to HubSpot, compelling visuals can generate up to 94% more views and an engagement increase of 37%. Also, if an image is paired with information, 65% of people are more likely to retain that information.

What types of visuals should you share? You’ll want to focus on images that convey the nonprofit’s mission and its impact. However, images can also speak to the many aspects of the nonprofit, such as staff and volunteers who work behind the scenes and those who have benefited from the nonprofit’s goals. Images can also share stats in infographics and promotional videos.

Instagram is an image-centered social media platform, and according to The Balance Small Business, over half its users are between the ages of 18-29. This age group is known to be very active in giving for a cause and appealing to them on a platform they use could generate new supports and donors.

Nonprofits don’t have to spend much money to create eye-catching graphics. Free programs like Canva have hundreds of free templates. Before you begin, decide on fonts and use color schemes that match your nonprofit’s branding.

4. Invest in your blog.

Blogging allows nonprofits to share their story their way and can be easily shared and reshared with supporters.

Studies show that regular blogging increases traffic to a website and according to Hubspot, “companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between 0-4 monthly posts.”

With a blog, nonprofits can tell their story, but you shouldn’t focus solely on the organization. Think creatively and strategically about ways to share your story from multiple angles, such as:

  • Share milestones.
  • Post about breaking news.
  • Promote upcoming or past events.
  • Share stories, behind-the-scenes peeks, and leader profiles.
  • Feature stories about supporters that have helped your nonprofit’s cause.
  • Embed videos.
  • Share stats in digestible infographics.

5. Use newsletters to connect with supporters.

Newsletter and email campaigns are some of the most effective marketing strategies for sharing the latest news with subscribers interested in a nonprofit’s cause.

Email is one of the most effective marketing strategies because it taps into a captive community. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing provided a “4400% return on investment and $44 for every $1 spent” in 2018. Investing time into an email campaign and a monthly newsletter can go a long way to increase brand visibility, engage with supporters, find new supports and raise donations.

Before starting your campaigns, follow these best practices:

  • Plan in advance by creating an editorial calendar.
  • Keep to a consistent emailing schedule.
  • Test every campaign before hitting “send.”

Remove any hard bounce emails and review reports to discover what recipients are responding to and ways to improve the newsletter and its content.

Email and newsletter design is crucial for audience engagement as users’ size up an email in less than a second.

6. Share your message on social media.

Social media is a way for nonprofits to connect with their supporters and engage with them daily. Businesses are often tempted to be on all platforms, and with user stats like these, it is tempting to follow suit:

  • Instagram: 1 billion
  • Facebook: 2.32 billion
  • Twitter: 321 million
  • Pinterest: 250 million
  • LinkedIn: 610 million
  • Snapchat: 186 million
  • YouTube: 9 billion

With limited funds and volunteer resources, a nonprofit will first need to cater to their current customer base and its platform of choice. When adding on additional social platforms, take the time to understand each platform and its users and then review how the organization’s resources can be allocated.

Lara Dunning is a marketing and PR specialist for Three Girls Media. A version of this article originally appeared on the Three Girls Media blog.

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