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Non-profit marketing success: A simple guide

There should be no doubt that non-profit charities and fundraisers are essential in our day and age. When the disenfranchised, poor, disabled, or otherwise in need cannot access the resources they require, fundraising should be a moral imperative. However, the unfortunate truth is that ethics alone don’t suffice for successful fundraising campaigns, no matter how noble the goal. In essence, such projects and initiatives function in much the same way as businesses and thus require marketing to achieve their goals. Therefore, we find it only fitting to devote this article to non-profit marketing success as a way to ensure positive change in the world.

Non-profit marketing success

It is no exaggeration that non-profit organizations function very similarly to for-profit businesses. While the goal is not to sell a product or service, the organization’s survival and success still depend on outreach, engagement, and financial contributions. As such, non-profits and for-profits share some fundamental marketing goals:

  • Public awareness
  • A positive online reputation
  • An appealing expense
  • Continued interest and support by interested parties

A donor is certainly not a customer in any traditional sense, but it should be obvious why they’re very similar. In this context, then, any online fundraiser needs to work toward non-profit marketing success to attract one-time and recurring donors. 

Marketing factors to consider

Having established that marketing is still very valuable for non-profit fundraisers, let us explore the key factors of non-profit marketing success

Inbound marketing

The inbound marketing model is a tried-and-tested solution for businesses, and it certainly holds value for fundraisers too. In essence, it consists of 3 distinct goals:


Generate valuable leads; make yourself known as a cause worth supporting.


Interact with acquired leads; assure them your goals align.


Satisfy; make your donors happy with their contribution and assure them it assists with their intentions.

It is equally noteworthy that the inbound marketing system is not simply a short-term tool for non-profit marketing success. Instead, it seeks to establish long-lasting relationships with donors, as recurring donors are as valuable for non-profits as loyal customers are to brands. Studies find that the average one-time donor contributes between $120 and $130, while recurring donors donate approximately $53 a month, or $636 a year. Thus, inbound marketing is an essential model to consider as you craft your marketing strategy.

Challenges of non-profit marketing success

Next, let us briefly touch on the 3 main challenges most non-profit organizations face.

Lack of funding

Roughly 60% of all non-profit organizations report some degree of financial shortcomings.

Lack of skills

Nearly 50% cite a relative lack of internal skills toward successful outreach efforts.

A need for a change in culture

Finally, roughly 45% report a perceived need for a change in culture as a hurdle toward reaching their goals.

Unclear CTAs, convoluted site structure, inconsistent messaging

Finally, consider the immense success of digital marketing agencies such as Digital Dot with non-profit organizations’ sites and email campaigns. This is in no small part because many such efforts face hardships in presenting clear, appealing calls to action (CTAs), maintaining a straightforward, convincing site structure, and delivering consistent, alluring messaging. On all of those fronts, it should be clear that non-profit fundraisers need proper marketing strategies to succeed.

Key steps towards non-profit marketing success

Having highlighted all of the above factors, let us explore the key steps you can take to ensure non-profit marketing success.

Define your goals

The tried-and-tested S.M.A.R.T. approach to setting goals in marketing efforts applies to non-profits as well. The acronym stands for the following key points:

  1. Specific: set specific, clearly worded, and defined goals.
  2. Measurable: set measurable goals against which you can gauge success.
  3. Attainable: aim for realistic, attainable goals.
  4. Relevant: choose goals that are relevant to your organization and audience.
  5. Time-bound: set clear time-bound goals and establish fitting deadlines.

With this established mindset in mind, you can begin crafting your strategies on a sound basis. Furthermore, you can more confidently review your strategies and return to your S.M.A.R.T. goals for recalibration.

Segment and profile your audiences

Next, you should take care to treat your donors as customers in terms of exposure and lead acquisition. This may be a crude parallel to make, as you don’t seek donors to profit from them, but donors have different group profiles showing different behavioral patterns.

As such, you should carefully segment your potential audience and tailor your marketing efforts to them. Consider all factors that make up audience profiles, from gender and age to education and income, as well as any other relevant information. Your non-profit marketing success hinges on such insights.

Create compelling, engaging content

Having segmented and profiled your optimal audience, your marketing efforts should then focus on creating appealing content for your intended audience. Consider bold, clear visuals that incite urgency; different types of content, from blogs to video and images; different social media platforms that resonate with your audience better. Use your insights to create compelling, tailor-made content to attract your potential donors more effectively.

Consider the ideal channels for non-profit marketing success

Moreover, you should actively consider the ideal channels for your marketing efforts. For example, different social media come with distinctly different characteristics:

  • Active user sizes
  • Prominent demographics
  • Affinity for different types of content

As such, you should examine different platforms and see which ones best fit your campaign. Twitter’s time-sensitive text form, Pinterest’s users’ age and gender, or Instagram’s focus on visual content may be the one final step toward non-profit marketing success.

Analyze your marketing performance

Finally, you should keep in mind that no marketing campaign ever truly finishes. Instead, you should continuously monitor your results in measurable terms and have your findings inform current and future decisions.


In conclusion, it’s very likely that analyzing non-profit fundraising efforts in such terms may be uncomfortable. However, it should now be clear that even the noblest of non-profit charities overlap in needs and scope with traditional marketing. Thus, you should likely examine your efforts under this scope and let reliable marketing strategies help you make positive changes to the world.

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