3 Things Nonprofits Should Know About Digital Marketing

I’m going to start off by saying that marketing for nonprofits is no different from marketing for a regular business. The only thing that differs is that most regular businesses have the resources to keep up with marketing trends. So those that are struggling to keep their nonprofit organization afloat, it’s imperative to realize one thing about marketing: almost everything you knew a couple of years ago, is almost irrelevant today. 

Dealing with multiple local nonprofits, I realize that most organizations are usually being run by a one person army who lacks the time, knowledge, and help necessary to catch their nonprofit up to speed. It could also get very discouraging to want to compete with other organizations. So I’ve compiled a list of things that nonprofits should keep in mind when updating their marketing strategy:

If you’re not mobile, you’re not relevant.

Before you want to throw something at me for saying something you already know, I’m going to put it all in perspective with some quick stats:

  • 80% of people on the internet have a smartphone (Smart Insights)
  • Google says that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitors site instead (McKinsey & Company)
  • 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site (CMS Report)

So, that flash-based website might be cool online, but on someone’s device it will load very slow (if at all), causing an impatient donor to go to another nonprofits site and donate to them instead. Don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed. It’s just a matter of testing your site to see if it’s responsive on different devices and operating systems. Now if you find that your nonprofit’s website could use a change, you might want to think about utilizing a service that helps you to create website that is just as nice on a mobile device as it is on a desktop. I recommend WordPress as it is easy to move your content over and you can choose from many themes for free! With all of resources out there, there’s no excuse for not having a mobile site.

If you don’t create a story, it’ll be much harder for people to give you their money.

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are examples of being able to tell a story. For those of you that do not know what crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are, just click on that GoFundMe link that was reposted by your Facebook friend. Now these types of campaigns are successful because they provide a story that resonates well with prospective donors and an explanation of how donated money will be spent.

Not to say that you have to create the most tear-jerking sob story the world has ever heard to get donations. You have to know how to create a story that sits well with your target audience. Most people donate to a cause because they’re passionate about it, trust the person behind it, and want to become involved in something bigger than themselves.

A phenomenal resource that I recommend all nonprofit organizations go to visit is classy.org. They provide plenty of guides to help you figure out a storytelling strategy that could be used to solidify your nonprofits story.

Marketing is an imperfect science.

Marketing is a science experiment at the end of the day. You take a problem, create a hypothesis, test different variables, and hope for the result you predicted. However, marketing is imperfect because sometimes you cannot replicate something that was successful the first time. Or, something that failed the first time might become successful eventually. It is all trial and error. Your nonprofit will probably not get it right on the first shot and its okay if it doesn’t. You just have to keep testing until you recognize a pattern to create a strategy that works for your specific organization.

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