A young woman reaches across a table and high-fives a child. The woman and the child, as well as the young man standing behind the woman, are wearing light blue T-shirts. The T-shirts on the woman and the man say "volunteer" in white and have a symbol over the heart. The symbol is a triangle made up of several brushstrokes. The table is covered with folded light blue T-shirts.
Sharing user-generated content, like photos of volunteer activities or messages from the community your nonprofit serves, is a great way to get your organization's message out. — Getty Images/SDI Productions

Marketing isn’t just for consumer brands; nonprofits, too, need strong marketing strategies to raise awareness, attract volunteers, and solicit donations on behalf of their causes. A nonprofit marketing strategy serves the organization's mission and big-picture objectives.

In practice, nonprofit marketing strategies don’t differ dramatically from those of for-profit organizations. Nonprofits often have more limited resources to work with, however. Try these marketing strategies to reach your fundraising and awareness goals on a nonprofit budget.

Segment your audiences

Whereas for-profit businesses typically market to one key audience—their customers—nonprofits have a range of groups to whom they speak. At any given time, your outreach could be targeting multiple groups, including constituents, partners, volunteers, local governments, and donors. Separating these different audiences and getting a deeper understanding of each group can help you create more impactful messaging.

[Read more: Education, Partnerships and Community Are Essential to Nonprofit Success]

Nail your email marketing

Email marketing remains one of the best ways to reach your audience. By one estimate, an email marketing campaign can deliver a return of $40 for every $1 spent.

“Making email sends an ‘always on’ part of your marketing strategy will play a big role in your success on the channel,” wrote HubSpot. “‘Always on’ doesn't mean that you're bombarding your email list with constant messages—it means that you're committed to consistency in how often you send your emails.”

Before you invest in any new marketing outreach, put solid email marketing strategy in place to continually fuel your communication with donors, volunteers, and constituents.

[Read more: 5 Smart Marketing Strategies To Embrace In 2023]

Apply for a free Google Ad Grant

Google offers grants to help nonprofit organizations expand their reach through search ads on Google. To start, you’ll need to qualify for a Google for Nonprofits account, which will also grant you access to Google Workspace, YouTube’s nonprofit program, and other tools. Once you’re approved, you can request a Google Ad Grants activation to access up to $10,000 per month in search ads on Google. It’s a great way to expand your outreach and make the most of Google’s powerful SEO tools.

A peer-to-peer (P2P) campaign activates your supporters to become your fundraisers.

Make it mobile-friendly

Pew Research estimates that 15% of American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users, meaning they don’t have internet access on any device other than their mobile phones. That number is rising, especially among younger generations—indicating that ignoring mobile users is not an option.

“Make sure every touchpoint you have with your donors is mobile-optimized so they can make a gift on the spot, wherever they are,” wrote Classy, a nonprofit fundraising tech platform. At minimum, this means making sure your website can be viewed properly on a mobile screen. Consider also adding features like text-to-donate or a campaign modal checkout experience on any page.

Harness user-generated content

Whether you’re fundraising or simply raising awareness about your mission, user-generated content (UGC) is integral to the success of your marketing. One study found that consumers find UGC 9.8 times more impactful than influencer content. Not only does UGC offer strong social proof on behalf of your cause, but it also costs less to create than traditional content. Ask for constituents to send videos, pictures, and stories that you can share on your social media channels on a regular basis.

Try peer-to-peer fundraising

A peer-to-peer (P2P) campaign activates your supporters to become your fundraisers. With this strategy, you can ask regular donors to reach out to their friends, family, coworkers, and others in their network to solicit support on behalf of your nonprofit. This allows your organization to reach people you may never have otherwise engaged with. And, with tools like Facebook Fundraiser or Instagram Fundraiser, P2P campaigns are relatively easy to set up. You could even add a gamification element and create a leaderboard to reward the top fundraisers during the campaign.

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