Nonprofit Digital Marketing – Making Your Mark Online

11 Minute Read
Nonprofit staff members smile and examine nonprofit digital marketing elements on a computer.

Nonprofit Digital Marketing – Making Your Mark Online

11 Minute Read

Over the past two years, the digital world has connected us in a time of physical distance, especially through digital media. It has immense power to influence our view of the outside world. Your nonprofit thrives on building meaningful connections with your audience, so it might seem daunting to convey emotions through a barrier like a computer screen. 

However, with the right tools, your nonprofit can master digital marketing to bring your story to life and grow your support base. 

Keep in mind that digital marketing comes in many forms, so you can tailor your strategy to best fit your nonprofit’s needs. This is where the Fifty & Fifty team comes into play. As a leading digital marketing agency for nonprofits, we leverage web design, web development, and digital branding strategies to help nonprofits make their mark and take their mission worldwide.

If you don’t know where to start structuring your nonprofit’s digital marketing approach, we’re here to help. This guide will cover all the essentials:

  • What is digital marketing?
  • What are the different forms of digital marketing?
  • What’s the value of creating a digital marketing strategy?
  • What’s the Fifty & Fifty approach?


In no time you’ll learn how to make digital marketing work for your nonprofit’s mission and help you change the world. Let’s dive in.

What is digital marketing for nonprofits?

Nonprofit digital marketing is the strategic use of virtual channels to convey your organization’s identity and mission to attract more support for your initiatives. 

Digital marketing broadens your nonprofit’s potential reach further than traditional marketing is capable of. You might be familiar with the sales funnel that marketers use to represent the stages potential supporters go through during their donor journey:

The phases of the nonprofit digital marketing funnel are awareness, consideration, and conversion.

Unlike traditional outreach methods, digital marketing’s sharability, accessibility, and global reach can attract a greater number of people to the top of your sales funnel, resulting in more passionate advocates representing your mission. A wider reach means more awareness for your mission, and this guide will discuss how digital marketing can turn that awareness into consideration and finally conversions in the form of donations.

How do you create an effective digital marketing strategy?

There are several elements of a digital marketing plan that your nonprofit should determine early on to guide the rest of your promotion efforts. Here are some steps you can take to build out a digital marketing action plan:

  • Set your goals and understand the best outlets to achieve them
  • Track your engagement and results
  • Segment your audience to target certain groups with specific appeals and campaigns

Digital marketing today largely occurs in a multichannel context, meaning your audience encounters your brand and message through several platforms. This allows you to keep their attention and strategically funnel them towards taking a desired action, like donating or volunteering.

Ultimately, your digital marketing campaign should involve researching your audience and competitors, creating digital marketing assets, and understanding how those assets will connect with your audience and drive engagement. If you’re new to this, don’t worry! This guide will help you pick the digital marketing channels that align best with your nonprofit’s audience and goals.

What are the different forms of digital marketing for nonprofits?

Digital marketing is all about reaching your audience with engaging content through the channels they use every day. This means your marketing materials can take many forms and adapt to fit your specific needs and strategy. 

Here’s a rundown of the pieces of a winning nonprofit digital marketing strategy:

Graphic design, web design, online ad campaigns, email, search engine optimization, and social media are all parts of nonprofit digital marketing.

Graphic design

Graphic design is the strategic use of imagery and text to creatively convey a message through visual branding. In the case of your nonprofit, you’ll be communicating your most important message: your story

A good place to start leveraging graphic design is at the foundation of your online presence: your website. Not only can you use graphic design to create an attractive and cohesive aesthetic for your website but you can also use it to organize information in a logical way for your users. For example, intentionally incorporating white space into your website’s design makes your text more legible and helps guide supporters’ attention, allowing you to subtly move them toward becoming donors.

To ensure that your graphic design approach is professional from the get-go, consider working with an experienced nonprofit graphic designer. Our team can create stunning, dynamic graphics that catch the eye of potential supporters and garner attention for your cause. Plus, we can make graphics for all facets of your digital presence, from your social media accounts to your website, so you have a cohesive brand look no matter where potential supporters can find you.

Web design

As the central online location for all things relating to your organization, your website should act as the anchor for your multichannel digital marketing efforts. This means your site’s design needs to facilitate visitor engagement.

Start with the backend by assessing your website code’s speed and functionality. Optimizing these elements keeps load times short and ensures all page elements are functional, helping your audience stay engaged. 

To create a better website browsing experience for your potential donors, be sure to prioritize:

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Speedy load times
  • Easy-to-use donation and sign-up forms
  • Separate fundraising campaign landing pages to track campaign-specific results
  • Resource section with educational blogs and other materials 
  • About page

Websites with intuitive features are more likely to garner more long-term traffic. This translates to a competitive site that makes a positive impression on new visitors and provides the tools long-term donors need to continue engaging with your cause. 

Online ad campaigns

The average internet user spends 395 minutes per day online, which is 30% of a 24-hour period. You can take advantage of this constant traffic by inserting yourself into the digital advertising space. Some lucrative prospects for nonprofits are social media ads, retargeted ads, and Google Ad Grants.

A natural starting point for your nonprofit is social media promotions. Social media platforms offer paid advertising spots where users will see your post interspersed in their feeds. If most of your supporters are concentrated on a specific platform, look into that site’s policy for nonprofit advertisers.

Additionally, your nonprofit can consider retargeted ads, which are promotions served to people who’ve already visited your site. There are two types of ad retargeting you can use:

  • Pixel-based retargeting, which is when browsers use cookies to notify retargeting platforms to serve ads based on the user’s search history.
  • List-based retargeting, which works after you already have someone’s contact information in your database. You’ll submit your contact data to a retargeting platform which will serve ads to these users when they visit sites that are part of the retargeting platform’s network.

Retargeting ads are beneficial for honing in on a particular group with an interest in your content. You can jog their memory about your nonprofit and increase the likelihood that they’ll view your site.

Another lucrative digital advertising prospect for nonprofits is the Google Ad Grant program. This program awards $10,000 per month for nonprofits to spend on ad space on Google’s search engine results page. Plus, the program awards keywords based on relevancy instead of size, so almost any nonprofit can participate, as long as they abide by Google’s eligibility requirements.

Whatever method you choose, tailor your ads to reach specific segments of your nonprofit’s audience to earn a positive return on investment. 

Social media posts

Social media plays numerous roles in your digital marketing strategy. It grows your visibility and organic reach to new supporters while engaging your existing audience. Additionally, you can use it to drive traffic to your website’s homepage, specific campaigns, and other relevant content on your landing pages.

Set specific social media priorities based on which populations you’re trying to target and what kind of content you want to post. For instance, one of the best determinants of a platform’s social media users is age. Take a look at this breakdown of the most popular social media platforms by age group:

  • 18-29: Snapchat
  • 30-39: LinkedIn
  • 40-49: Facebook
  • 50-64: Facebook

Once you pinpoint which platforms you want to focus on, it’s time to create your content. Research trends, popular types of posts in the space, and what content your current audience interacts with most. Then, develop unique content that’s likely to grab your audience’s attention. 

Now, it’s time to let your viewers do some of the work for you! Encouraging your audience to like, comment, and share your post will help you reach their networks.

Search engine optimization

With over 200 million active websites competing for attention on the Google homepage, it can feel like an uphill battle to get impressions. Plus, less than 1% of searchers look for results on Google’s second page.

Fortunately, there’s a method to the madness of search engine results pages: search engine optimization (SEO). You can adjust aspects of your site to help it rank highly on the search engine results page and drive more organic traffic to your content. 

To start optimizing your website for search engines, ensure that it is user-friendly and hosts high-quality content. For instance, you can start a blog with educational content for nonprofit professionals to learn from. Ensure you use technical SEO best practices when developing your content, such as adding alt text to photos and adhering to heading hierarchy rules.

Then, research keywords that your target audience might be searching for and incorporate them into your website. Using high-volume and relevant keywords will increase the likelihood that your page will rank highly on the search engine results page and get shown to the right audiences. You can use sites such as Google Search Console to determine which keywords your website is already ranking for to help choose keyword targets.

Email

With an impressive average ROI of $36 for every dollar spent, it’s clear to see why email has been used since the inception of the internet. User-friendly email platforms allow you to send engaging messages to your entire audience instantly, grabbing their attention and encouraging their support. Some messages that you might create include:

  • Welcome email. Create a donor segment for new supporters, and send them a welcome series introducing them to your nonprofit. Use these emails to educate them about your mission and programs, highlight ways to get involved, and eventually push them toward making a donation.
  • Newsletter. Keep in touch with your supporters by sending a weekly or monthly newsletter. Your newsletter’s content is flexible and can include promotional material for upcoming events and fundraisers, donors and volunteer spotlights, updates on your programs, and information on anything else relevant to your cause or organization.
  • Program update email. When you make significant progress in a program that your donors supported, let them know. Program updates are also important in the event that you experience a setback, helping you maintain transparency and inform donors about how you intend to move forward. 
  • Re-engagement email. Track which donors have low engagement rates and may be at risk of lapsing or have already lapsed. For your re-engagement emails, focus on new ways donors can get involved but avoid asking for another donation until they begin to show interest in your cause again. 
  • Event invitation. Ahead of your events, send your supporters personal invitations. Address them by their preferred name to make the invitation feel more personal. Plus, include all the necessary information they’ll need, such as the event’s date, time, and venue.
  • Confirmation email. Set up your email platform to send automatic confirmation messages whenever supporters take actions such as donating, signing up to volunteer, registering for an event, or joining your email subscription list.
  • Thank you email. In addition to your automatic confirmations, send personalized thank-you emails when your supporters donate. These emails should include the amount donated, information about how it will help your cause, and a sincere expression of gratitude for the contribution.  
  • New content announcement email. When you launch a new initiative, fundraiser, or activity for supporters, generate excitement about it with an announcement email. 

To make the most of these various types of emails, be sure to segment your supporters. Divide your supporters into groups relevant to your communication goals. For instance, you can segment audiences by how supporters have engaged with your nonprofit in the past, so you can send them updates about the specific programs they’ve supported. This ensures your audience only receives messages that are relevant to them, creating a more engaging mail experience.

What’s the value of digital marketing for nonprofits?

An effective digital marketing strategy activates your organization’s ability to do good and influence your community. Digital marketing raises awareness for your mission and brand, generates donations, helps you acquire repeat donors and volunteers, and maximizes retention for all your organization’s supporters. 

For instance, just take a look at how our team at Fifty & Fifty has achieved concrete campaign results for nonprofits harnessing the potential of digital marketing. Here are just a few examples of the ways our strategic digital marketing campaigns have driven results for nonprofit organizations:

Kindness.org increased its organic search traffic by 30% by following top nonprofit digital marketing tips.

Kindness.org

Fifty & Fifty worked with the Kindness.org team on updated brand guidelines so that everyone on their team was on the same page as to who the organization is and what they do. Then, we created a website designed to get people excited about the power of kindness. The website also provides education about its programs, including a new Work Kind program.

  • Services: brand refresh (update visual identity, brand guidelines), web design and development
  • Compared to measurements in the previous period, in the first six months after the launch, Kindness.org’s website saw:  
    • Traffic increased by 75%
    • Logins to the platform increased by 935.25%
    • 800 people onboarded to the platform
    • Organic search traffic increased by 30%
The Game Changers’ team improved ticket sales by using nonprofit digital marketing techniques.

The Game Changers

The Game Changers is a documentary about plant-based eating that aims to demonstrate the benefits of veganism. Phase 1 of the project involved promoting the film’s premiere, so our goal was to get people to watch the trailer and buy tickets online. 

Phase 2 brought the full website into play. We mapped out the film’s target audiences and key messaging and then thought through how we could activate behavioral change and encourage signups. 

  • Services: website design and development, marketing, paid media strategy, asset development
  • In the first two weeks post-launch of Phase 1:
  • Nearly 100,000 visitors went to the site
  • On average, 9.09% of site visitors converted to buying tickets
  • Recorded over 38,000 clicks to get tickets in the first two weeks of the launch
  • More than 4,000 trailer views
  • Within one week of adding an email pop-up form to the site, The Game Changers gained 40,000 new email subscribers
UNDP saw its social media analytics skyrocket after incorporating principles of nonprofit digital marketing.

UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) wanted to get people excited about their Sustainable Development Goals and the project’s progress, educate users on the larger issue of inequality, and inspire people to commit to action. Our team at Fifty & Fifty wanted to help UNDP cater to different types of audiences, so the report expertly balances highly skimmable content and opportunities to dig deep with links to further information.

  • Services: web design and development
  • In the first 24 hours of the launch:
  • A tweet about the site received 436 likes and 312 retweets
  • An Instagram post received 4,198 likes and 37 comments
  • A Facebook post received 135 likes, 6 comments, and 45 shares
  • The website was shared over 100 times on Facebook 
UNEP leveraged many nonprofit digital marketing techniques to boost its brand awareness.

UNEP

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) needed a streamlined system that would capture leads and foster engagement. We built web pages, interactive games, and hundreds of social media posts that drew people into the campaign. We also crafted a heavy lead-based marketing campaign and engagement funnel within Hubspot to drive users through a series of stages.

  • Services: create visual elements like campaign branding, webpages, and marketing materials for World Environment Day in 2021.
  • Results:
  • 65M views on TikTok
  • 130M views and 4.4M discussions on Weibo
  • 42K articles published in 174 countries and 37 languages
  • 17% increase in YoY PR coverage

How do you get started with nonprofit digital marketing?

If you’ve decided to unlock your nonprofit’s full potential with digital marketing, you can get started immediately. Start by reviewing your past marketing data and auditing the specific strategies and outlets you’ve used before. Then, determine the results you want to see and the outlets and digital strategies that could help you achieve those results. Finally, continue learning about marketing best practices and invest in professional help.

If you want to kickstart your digital marketing efforts on the right foot, look no further. Fifty & Fifty is an award-winning agency that can provide expert guidance, strategy, design, and implementation services for projects of various scales. 

We aren’t out to save the world, but to tell the stories of those who are. We take pride in supporting our clients through the change-making process and elevating their outreach goals. We’re eager to hear your story.

Additional Resources

About Fifty & Fifty. Learn more about how you can enhance your digital marketing and make real change in your community. 

Fifty & Fifty’s Work. Explore more examples of how we’ve transformed mission-driven causes through digital marketing and brand strategy.

Fifty & Fifty’s Services. Read more about how we can help you change the world.

Fifty & Fifty’s Blog. Explore other guides, lists, and articles on how to make an impact in the mission-driven space.

Other Recent Posts

Navigating the Future of Fundraising.
Navigating the Future of Nonprofit Fundraising

See how the online fundraising market is changing, what nonprofits are doing, and how you can adapt your strategies for sustainability and growth.

Name(Required)
What motivated you to reach out?(Required)

Talk To Our Team

If you have any questions, connect with us directly and we'll explore things further.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.