top 5 marketing strategies for nonprofits and social entrepreneurs

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Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Nonprofits and Social Entrepreneurs

Nonprofits and social entrepreneurs are facing the largest marketing challenge of all – having no cash. It is hard to raise awareness for your cause competing with more financially stable online advertisers in a world where you bid for people’s attention. Even though the challenge sounds significant, those who are willing to take it are usually very passionate for a cause bigger than themselves.

However promoting a nonprofit cause ain’t easy. In this article, we will show you the top 5 digital marketing strategies which will help you spread your cause in an overpopulated advertising world.


1. Do PPC at no cost

Many nonprofits mistakenly ignore pay-per-click advertising just because it begins with “pay.” Maybe they haven’t heard of Google’s Ad Grants, which gives every nonprofit $10 000 every month for unlimited period of time to advertise on Google.

Google alone provides roughly one billion dollars every year to assist nonprofits promote their causes. Hubspot called Google Ad Grants “the biggest missed opportunity in nonprofit marketing”. You don’t want to miss it, right?

There are some restrictions in Google’s Ad Grants. Advertisers can use only text ads (no banners, no videos) and the bid for keyword can’t exceed $2.00, however if you’re advertising for free, you most likely won’t notice these limitations to be a road-blocker.

Shortly, to apply for Google Ad Grants you will need a Google Nonprofit account, TechSoup validation token and an AdWords account. You could use this marketing budget to spread your cause online, find donors and volunteers and bring more awareness about your organization. Drop us a line if need help with the application process. We will try our best to assist you with more information, materials and best practices about Google Ad Grants.


2. Use content marketing

Content marketing is all about producing interesting and valuable content for the people you want to connect with. Everything that will drag people’s attention to your cause and that will make them take action. Here are few ideas:


  • Write about the results of your organization. Tell people what you have achieved and why they should donate or volunteer to your cause.
  • Share more information on a social problem that you’re concerned about.
  • Upload photos and videos from a recent event and make a post-event strategy to keep people in contact after the event.
  • Use videos. Videos are a very powerful tool for communicating the message of your cause. Read more about the psychographics and try to use it in your videos.
  • Create a blog where you can keep your content.


Content marketing’s major attributes are:

  1. Embodies an organization’s core brand elements.
  2. Uses a variety of media formats such as articles, videos, images, slides, infographics and ebooks to tell your story.
  3. Can be read on a variety of devices including computers, tablets, smartphones and others.
  4. Is distributed via owned, third-party and social media platforms.
  5. Provides measurable results through the use of appropriate calls-to-action and tracking codes.


3. Advertise your best content on social media

Your content has little chances of gaining visibility on social media if you don’t place a little bit of cash behind it.

A smart strategy on social media is “start small”. You can advertise your best content successfully with just $5 a day or even less. Most of the social media platforms have insanely detailed and easy to use targeting options so you could reach the people interested in your content and with your cause at heart.

Try to think of the ideal persona for your organization. You can look for similarities in your donors and volunteers and use them as a starting point for the targeting.

When creating your ad campaigns try split testing your ads. For example show the same ad to two different target audiences and see which will respond better. After you find your target audiences try different texts and images for the ads. Write two different ads and set budget of $2-$3 for each, make sure the targeted audience is the same. Continue with the best performing ad and try to write a better one with your next split test.


4. Invest in email marketing

No nonprofit worker likes the word “invest” because it implies allocating a lot of budget, however this isn’t essentially true for email. Studies still prove that email promotion is a very effective digital marketing strategy.

Email promoting leads to an average of $40 of revenue for every $1 spent, which makes it vastly powerful for limited budget. If you want to get the best of your email marketing campaign you will need a lot of creativity.

  1. Craft a compelling subject line – that’s the only way to get people to open your email. Try split testing with different subject lines to find out what works best for your audience. In the picture below you see some metrics that you could base the split testing on.
  2. Keep your copy simple and straightforward – Get straight to the point. If you keep your copy short and digestible people will be more likely to read it.
  3. Use emotionally appealing images and videos to tell your story.


5. Search for influential people within your network

You probably won’t be able to get Bono to campaign for your cause, however if you recognize somebody who is aware of Paul on a primary name basis, maybe they might intrigue him to craft a fast post and call-to-action concerning your nonprofit on his Facebook.

Ok, this can be an unlikely state of affairs, however there are probably some folks in your network who can help you spread your cause. Finding the correct person may end up in vital donations with very little to no cash spent. Look around your network and circle of friends for influential personas that can advocate for your cause.


There are other strategies that could help you spread your cause, but the most important is to pick some and start building your online presence as soon as possible. Otherwise your website will be like a party with no guests. You don’t want that, right?

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