Navigating the digital landscape can be a challenge for all of us, especially for the the limited funding and capacity of many nonprofit teams. From leveraging social media to optimizing website functionality, the myriad tasks can be daunting. However, with strategic use of these platforms, your organization can thrive and extend its reach like never before. Here's a thorough guide to digital marketing, social media, and technology for nonprofits.
Laying the Digital Foundation: Your Website
Your website is the hub of your digital presence. Here are a few tips to enhance its utility:
- Facebook Pixel:
Install a Facebook Pixel to ensure visitors to your site will encounter your ads on Facebook and Instagram. Setting up events enables tracking of actions such as donations or sign-ups, ultimately helping calculate the return on your digital investment.
2. Email Capture:
Encourage website visitors to join your email list or newsletter. This can be facilitated via website pop-ups or sign-up boxes displayed prominently on every page. A focused approach is to initially collect just the email, asking for more details later.
3. Conversion Tracking:
Google Analytics, Search, and Ads
Installing Google Analytics on your website can provide critical insights into traffic behavior and conversions. Additionally, mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can significantly boost your site's visibility. Key strategies include creating text-heavy content, earning backlinks from other websites, and hyperlinking keywords to credible sources. Take a look at Givepact co-founder Steve Aguiar’s blog post on common mistakes to avoid.
Applying for Google's nonprofit ad program can grant your organization $10,000/month in ad funds, helping drive traffic to your website. You might also consider a budget for regular Google ads to improve searchability and traffic.
The Social Sphere: Your Platforms
For nonprofits with limited capacity, focusing on LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok can prove fruitful.
Despite its age, Facebook remains a giant with 2.89 billion monthly active users. It offers several tools for nonprofits including charitable giving which allows direct donations and fundraiser creation. To maximize reach, consider increasing your posting frequency and interaction with commenters. Also, consider creating a private group for highly engaged supporters. More tips:
- Increase the number of times you post by 3-4x. Focus on driving up the number of shares and comments on each post.
- Engage with the comments on each post.
- Consider creating a private Facebook group for highly engaged supporters or impacted people in your state.
- Create a budget for Facebook and Instagram ads that will help increase brand awareness, email sign ups, and donations.
- Use the events tools to create in-person or virtual events your organization is hosting. This will help expose your event to more people than just sending an email or posting on Twitter and Instagram. You can also boost the event with a small budget to help increase RSVPs.
With an engagement rate surpassing both Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a great platform for visual storytelling. It's also an excellent place to grow your audience, engage with your followers, and post daily content. More tips:
- The average engagement per post is 2.26%, 10x higher than Facebook’s and 30x higher than Twitter’s (SmartInsights.com). Focus on growing your audience here and be a leading voice in your organization’s industry.
- An ideal platform for visual storytelling, including photos and videos of the people you serve and represent. Do not saturate your feed with too many graphics, mix up the types of content with video, photos, stats, infographics, etc. Feeds where people only post graphics, look inauthentic and overly promotional. When people land on your account they will be drawn to the highlights and the big picture quadrant of 3 x 3 or 3 x 4. Account for how someone sees your Instagram profile on the macro view as much as they will see each individual post as they scroll through their feed.
- Post daily or 3-5 per week, if possible.
- To compete with TikTok, Instagram has launched and prioritized reels that are a maximum of 90 seconds long. Take advantage of them and post reels! Go live with other accounts on important topics and conversations.
- Use collaborations when posting a post with a different entity. This allows the post to be seen by the collaborators audience.
Twitter is an essential platform for breaking news and networking with journalists. Although it may lead to fewer clicks, its news and opinion leadership make it indispensable. As a leader in news and opinion, who you follow is important. Create lists of credible people, news sources, and relevant organizations to stay on top of what is going on in the world.
As the second-largest platform after Facebook, YouTube is the perfect place to upload your videos. You can also run ads on the platform.
TikTok is a powerful tool for reaching younger audiences. Its unique format encourages virality and provides an opportunity to build activism and awareness around your cause.
- Videos that performs well for nonprofits include:
1) A video that is actionable or instructional.
2) Thought-provoking or surprising
- It should be expressed as simple/accessible as you would explain something to a friend.
- First 3 seconds are most engaging (put the most interesting part in the beginning)
- Ideal time: 15-30 seconds (no end cards)
- No introductions needed (add lower third or name in bottom corner if needed)
Speak direct to camera
- The more “native” the content feels, the better (vs. a highly produced video)
- “For you page” — should have the feel that this content was created just for you
- Create content that people will want to stitch (add your point of view)
- Create content that people will want to duet (produce next to it )
- Create content that people will want to react to
As the largest professional networking site, LinkedIn is ideal for cultivating your organization’s and staff’s professional profile. It can be used for job hunting, recruitment, publishing content, and organizing events.
Leveraging Email, Fundraising, and Advocacy Technology Solutions
An all-in-one platform can serve as your Constituent Relationship Management system (CRM) and provide fundraising, advocacy, and email blasting. Examples include Salsa (includes SMS, EveryAction (Includes SMS), and Action Network (uses a 3rd party for SMS). More tips:
- The benefits of an all-in-one system are that these systems make it easy to see and utilize comprehensive supporter data (action profile, email open rates, click through rates, donor profile, zip code, event targeting, etc.)
- While some of the all-in-one systems can be clunky, the advantages of having your data all in one place usually makes up for some minor inconveniences.
- Factors to consider:
- Price - most offer scaled pricing
- Features - does the platform include SMS or other features you need?
- Deliverability stats for emails and actions
- Customization of the look and experience (can you make pages look like your website?)
- Is it easy to use?
- If using a single system simply is not possible, take a look at more targeted solutions below.
Primarily Fundraising/Donations - A system that is mobile-friendly and easy to use will make a big difference in increasing donations to your organization. Recommended platforms:
- A/B Charities (same company as ActBlue but branded for nonprofits to use). They are at the cutting edge of technology and user experience for driving up one-time and monthly donations.
- Fun.Raise - A newer company that caters to nonprofits. They did custom work for the Innocence Project and were a great team to work with. They allow Paypal donations (unlike Classy) and that has helped increase donations on top of their simplified form.
- Salesforce - the Cadillac of CRMs. You get 10 licenses and 10GB of storage for free. It does require a team member to be trained and familiar with the system. It has an email system but needs to be integrated with an action system like Phone2Action.
- Fundraise Up
Primarily for Advocacy
- Phone2Action - Highly recommended platform for building campaigns, an advocacy base, and SMS capabilities. You can easily connect constituents to call, email, and communicate with lawmakers about reforms and death penalty cases. (Examples: Julius Jones and Pervis Payne campaigns).
Primarily for Email
- With your current email system, make sure you have a welcome series for new email sign ups and donors. Depending on where they are coming from, you may want to make variations.
- Periodically, use your best performing emails to re-engage inactive email accounts. (Determine the period of time that makes someone inactive, meaning they have not opened any of your emails.)
- System recommendations:
- Mailchimp is my top recommendation for email lists under 100,000. It’s very easy to use.
- Pardot is Salesforce’s email marketing system that I’d recommend for lists above 100,000 and organizations that use Salesforce as a Customer Relationship Management System.
Text Messaging (SMS)
- Engagement rates on SMS are much higher than social and email. The majority of messages sent are seen unlike the clutter of email and social media. People who opt into your SMS program will be reliable advocates and supporters.
- I highly recommend investing in an SMS program.
- Recommended platforms:
Social media and tech platforms are constantly evolving. We hope this is a good start to helping your organization get up and running. Questions or additional resources nonprofits should be taking advantage of? Contact us at email@example.com.