A marketer’s job is to utilize their budget to drive as much revenue as possible, and for nonprofit marketers this need is heightened.
But for the nonprofit marketer, “driving revenue” takes on a different and more delicate aspect. The goal isn’t to sell people on an expensive product they don’t really need. It’s to show potential donors the impact their funds can make, and reassure them it’s a good place to spend their philanthropy dollars. Because nonprofits invest so heavily into the vital programs they run, their marketing budgets are limited and their expectations are high.
The resources below were collected especially for nonprofit marketers, covering a variety of overlooked opportunities, free marketing tools, and special discounts offered exclusively to nonprofits.
Internal Resources You Might Not Be Maximizing
Because nonprofits are typically on a tight budget, it’s important for nonprofit marketers to maximize the resources they already have access to.
Many nonprofit websites already have Google Analytics installed – in fact, Google’s Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora was quoted in 2012 saying that more than 10 million websites worldwide do!
Most marketers have experience using Google Analytics, but fail to capitalize on the full benefit of this free software. Here are a few ways to use Google Analytics that go beyond looking at sessions and traffic sources:
- Create custom dashboards for automated reporting. Wired Impact has a few free dashboards made especially for nonprofits.
- Monitor site speed. Having a website that loads very quickly helps your visitors’ experience, and is beneficial for SEO. Significant changes in site speed may also indicate greater technical problems that your developer or webmaster can address. To view your site speed, go to Behavior > Site Speed in the left hand navigation and set your desired date range.
- Track custom goals. Setting up custom goals is a great way to track the different actions that you value. For example, you can set up goals to track newsletter subscriptions, donations, or online membership registrations. This helps you understand your conversion rate, or the percentage of users who complete a desired action.
Your Email List
Many nonprofits have email lists of current and potential donors who have expressed interest in the organization. Larger customer lists can be expensive to host and maintain, so it is important to maximize their benefit. Email lists are commonly used for sending updates, newsletters, resources, and requesting donations.
Here are a few other ways that you can use your email list:
- Use automation sequences to reach donors at vital points in their “customer” journey. Engage new subscribers immediately by sending a welcome email series. Send automated emails to donors at regular frequencies to solicit new donations. These emails will be in addition to timely campaigns that offer current news and updates.
- Cross-promote your social media channels and website. Reaching your donors through a variety of channels helps strengthen your brand and exposure. Encourage your email subscribers to follow your most important social media pages, and explain to them the unique value you provide on each channel. For example, you may share heartwarming volunteer stories on Facebook or re-share photos that your members tag you in on Instagram.
- Send surveys learn more about your audience. Quantitative and qualitative surveys can help you learn more about user demographics, perceptions, behavior, and objections.
Note: Respecting your members’ data privacy is vital, especially where email is concerned. Immediately set the expectation of exactly how you will use your member’s data and the types of emails they will receive before they subscribe – this is especially important for members from EU, where GDPR (general data protection regulation) applies. Discussions around GDPR and other governmental privacy regulations are beyond the scope of this post, and deserve specific attention by your legal team.
If your nonprofit is active online, chances are you’ve already garnered reviews on Facebook or Guidestar. Online reviews can provide compelling, emotional testimonials that may attract new donors and members. Consider placing testimonials on your website, or using them for social media marketing.
Note: Be sure to ask the reviewer’s permission to use their positive testimonial in your marketing materials and retain documentation of their consent. Using testimonials may not be appropriate for all nonprofits such as those serving vulnerable communities or helping with sensitive topics.
Online reviews can also provide insight into the language your donors use. Reflecting your member’s concerns and objections using the same terminology they use doesn’t just help reduce miscommunication, it also helps you connect with your audience and build rapport.
Anyone in your nonprofit in a consumer-facing role will have valuable information about the challenges and objections your donors have, as well as the language they use when they talk about your organization.
Customer service representatives, sales people, and corporate donor managers are all valuable resources that you can use to take your marketing a step further. Try this:
Sit in on sales and customer service calls
Both sales and customer service calls can be leveraged for marketing. There is often a divide between departments, but working together can truly benefit everyone in the organization.
From these calls you can learn common objections that potential donors have, and you can begin to craft communications to overcome those objections before they ever speak to a representative.
You can also record calls to review or transcribe later, but you may be required to gain the consent of the caller to do so.
Ask customer service the most common questions they hear
Understanding the questions your donors ask allows you to clarify your messaging and answer customer questions. This increases the number of users who donate, subscribe to your newsletter, or register as members. Calls like this can also mitigate and reduce demands on customer service.
Free Marketing Tools and Software for Nonprofits
In addition to internal resources that many nonprofits already have but may be under-utilizing, there are dozens of free marketing tools that nonprofits can leverage.
Screaming Frog has a free website crawling tool that can help you identify broken links, analyze metadata, and see duplicate pages.
Web Page Test allows you to test your site speed performance from multiple locations, and identify opportunities to improve your site speed.
Mailchimp has one of the most robust free packages available to nonprofits. Their basic membership covers up to 2,000 subscribers, 12,000 monthly emails, and includes automation features.
Hubspot offers robust contact management software including features like Gmail integration, pop-up forms, and email templates.
Hootsuite has one of the most robust free plans that allows you to schedule up to 30 posts to 3 accounts.
Buffer’s free plan allows you to schedule up to 10 posts at once and create custom graphics.
Followerwonk is a Twitter tool that allows you to gain insights into your Twitter following, including their locations and when they are active online.
Website Conversion Rate Optimization
Google Optimize is a free tool that allows you to run A/B and multivariate tests on your website. It has an easy to use visual editor, and integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics.
Shopify Burst is a directory of free images that can be used for personal or commercial purposes with or without attribution.
Pixabay has a free library of 1.6 million photos and videos that can be used for advertising and marketing.
Create Her Stock is a free subscription service that specializes in authentic stock photos featuring black women.
Google Forms allows you to easily create and share free surveys and polls. Responses are easy to view or download as an Excel file.
Typeform has a basic free plan that allows you to ask up to 10 questions, and collect up to 100 responses per month.
Evite allows you to send digital invitations by email or social media, and track RSVPs for your event.
10 Marketing Tools With Nonprofit Discounts
The following marketing software companies offer exclusive discounts with proof of nonprofit status. If you have an existing paid account with these companies but do not have a reduced rate, many of them will apply the discount to active accounts.
- Moz – 75% off – Moz is a leading SEO software that can help you track your backlinks and important keywords.
- Buffer – 50% off – Buffer is a tool for social media that allows you to post, review analytics, and engage with users from all social media platforms in a single location.
- Todoist – 50% off – Todoist is an organizational tool that helps you manage tasks and projects.
- Eventzilla – 25% off – Eventzilla is event registration software that helps you sell tickets, process payments, and survey attendees.
- Wordstream – 25% off – Wordstream helps organizations maximize their results from multiple ad platforms including Facebook, Google Ads, Instagram, and Bing.
- Paypal – 24% off transaction fees – Paypal is a payment processor that can be used for donations, ticket sales, and e-commerce payments.
- Mailchimp – 15% off – Mailchimp is an email provider. They have a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers, and offer 15% off to nonprofits for paid plans.
- Zapier – 15% off – Zapier helps you connect and integrate different more than 1,000 softwares and apps.
- Shopify – unknown discount – Shopify is an e-commerce website platform that allows you to build, host, and maintain an e-commerce site for your nonprofit. Contact their team for details on nonprofit pricing.
- VWO – unknown discount – VWO is a visual editor that allows you to test design modifications with A/B and multivariate tests. Contact their team for details on nonprofit pricing.
Marketing success doesn’t have to be defined by whoever has the biggest budget. Most marketers aren’t using the full potential of their marketing tools and the teams that make up the organization. There are also a wide array of useful free programs online that can help with everything from SEO to event management. And when expensive enterprise software is inevitable, many marketing software companies offer nonprofit discounts.
Remember, as a nonprofit marketer your career offers unique rewards. Not only will you be more successful: the farther you take your budget, the greater impact your organization can have on the community you serve.
Annie Singer began her career in marketing as a link builder but quickly familiarized herself with a broader inbound marketing skillset. While she is largely self-taught, she has a rich background including agency, enterprise, and freelance experience, and has formal education in psychology and marketing research. Annie now works in digital growth and entrepreneurship, specializing in science-based practices and business ethics. Visit her website, or connect on LinkedIn.