What Is Nonprofit Marketing? Benefits, Strategies + Examples

Any nonprofit organization would agree that they could use some extra hands and donations. Setting up effective nonprofit marketing campaigns gets charities noticed and connects with potential donors and volunteers.

In this guide, we will explain what nonprofit marketing is and what the benefits of an online marketing strategy are for charities. We will also share some of the best strategies to boost charity brand awareness and fundraising initiatives.

To get you inspired, we will also showcase examples of organizations that have succeeded in effectively sharing their nonprofit’s mission online.

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Nonprofit marketing refers to the strategies and activities nonprofit organizations use to promote their causes, attract donations, and recruit volunteers. In comparison, business marketing goals include selling more products and generating more revenue.

Marketing Benefits for Nonprofits

Unlike businesses, nonprofits work towards creating a positive change in the community. A nonprofit marketing plan helps to:

Spread the Word

Imagine a world where more people know about your cause. An effective nonprofit marketing strategy makes that happen.

Thought-out digital marketing strategies help drive traffic to your website, start more conversations on social media, and even attract news coverage. This puts your mission in front of a much wider audience, increasing public understanding and sparking interest in your work.

Attract Volunteers

Not everyone has the resources to donate financially, but many want to volunteer their time and skills to nonprofit organizations.

Targeted marketing campaigns with compelling messages can attract passionate individuals who are eager to contribute. By showcasing the experience and the real volunteers make, you can create marketing materials that resonate with people who have the skills and interests perfectly aligned with your needs.

Grow Your Donor Base

Building strong relationships with potential donors is crucial for any nonprofit. Marketing helps you bridge that gap. Through effective communication strategies and engaging content, you can cultivate a loyal base of supporters who are invested in your work.

Publish compelling stories that showcase the impact of donations. Show how a single contribution can make a real difference. Utilize targeted online advertising to reach individuals most likely to be moved by your cause, expanding your donor pool and securing the resources to make a lasting difference.

Find Partners

A strong nonprofit marketing plan can open doors for collaborations with other organizations and businesses that share your values.

By leveraging your marketing efforts, you can showcase the benefits of collaboration and propose mutually beneficial initiatives.

How to Create a Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Developing a solid nonprofit marketing plan helps you achieve your charity’s goals. It ensures your marketing efforts are focused, measurable, and impactful. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

1. Set Clear Marketing Objectives

Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your marketing efforts. These goals should directly connect to your mission and objectives.

SMART goals provide clarity and direction in your nonprofit marketing plan. They help you measure progress, track success, and identify areas for improvement.


  • Specific. Instead of “raise awareness,” set a goal like “increase website traffic by 20% within the next quarter.”
  • Measurable. Identify metrics to track progress. How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal? Website traffic, volunteer sign-ups, or social media engagement can all be quantified.
  • Achievable. Be ambitious but realistic. Consider your resources and capacity.
  • Relevant. Align your goals with your overall mission and objectives. How will achieving this marketing goal contribute to your organization’s impact?
  • Time-bound. Set a clear deadline for achieving each goal. This creates a sense of urgency and keeps you on track.

2. Analyze Your Audience

Gain a deep understanding of the target audience you’re trying to reach. This includes demographics like age, location, and interests, as well as psychographics like values and motivations.

Tailoring your nonprofit marketing messages and strategies to resonate with your specific audience is crucial for maximizing engagement and impact.

Develop targeted surveys or conduct focus groups to gain valuable insights into your audience’s pain points and motivations.

Utilize social media analytics tools to understand your existing audience’s online behavior. Most social media platforms offer built-in analytics tools that provide valuable data about your followers.

Analyze these insights to understand your audience’s age, location, interests, and online behavior. Then, tailor your nonprofit marketing strategy and optimize your social media presence to reach a wider segment of your target audience.

Don’t forget to also research existing donor data to identify trends. Look for patterns in your existing donor data: analyze demographics, donation amounts, and giving habits. This information helps you refine your target audience and develop more effective fundraising strategies.

3. Craft Brand Messaging

A strong brand message creates a powerful emotional connection with your audience, motivating them to take action and support your cause.

Understanding your core values is the foundation for crafting a message that feels authentic and resonates with those who share your beliefs.

Your core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide your organization’s actions. What principles are at the heart of your mission? Are you driven by compassion, innovation, or social justice?

Develop a clear and concise message that captures the essence of your nonprofit organization. This key message should communicate your mission, values, and unique selling proposition (USP).

To Do:

  • Brainstorm with your team to identify your core values and the impact you create. Consider these questions:
    • What problems are we passionate about solving?
    • What kind of world are we working towards?
    • What are the fundamental principles that guide our decisions?
  • Craft messaging that is clear, concise, and speaks directly to the needs and interests of your target audience. Use the data from your audience research to step into the shoes of potential supporters.
  • Use powerful storytelling elements to showcase the human impact of your work.

4. Allocate a Budget

Having a well-defined marketing budget empowers you to execute your plan effectively. With it, you can allocate resources strategically across different channels and initiatives, maximizing your return on investment (ROI).

Remember, even a limited budget can be impactful with careful planning and resourcefulness. Start by reviewing your nonprofit marketing objectives and identify the resources required to achieve them.

This often means taking stock of your existing resources, including staff time, volunteer availability, and access to design or content creation tools.

Next, research the typical costs associated with different marketing channels you plan to utilize. This could include social media advertising costs, email marketing platform fees, or website development expenses.

Based on your research and resource limitations, prioritize your marketing channels and allocate your budget accordingly. Remember, flexibility is key. Be prepared to adjust your nonprofit marketing budget as needed based on campaign performance.

Top Tips:

  • Explore free and low-cost tools. Many free and low-cost marketing tools are available for nonprofits. Utilize tools like Hostinger Website Builder to create a professional website, or explore free social media management platforms to streamline your social media marketing efforts.
  • Seek in-kind donations. Consider approaching marketing agencies or design firms about potential in-kind donations. You might be surprised at the willingness of companies to support your cause with their expertise.
  • Track and measure results. Continuously monitor the performance of your nonprofit marketing campaigns. Track key metrics like website traffic, lead generation, and donation conversions. Analyze this data to identify what’s working and where you can optimize your budget allocation for better results.

5. Develop an Action Plan

An action plan is a roadmap that translates your nonprofit marketing goals into concrete steps. It outlines the specific strategies, tactics, and activities you’ll undertake to achieve each objective.

Having a clear action plan ensures your marketing efforts are focused, efficient, and measurable.

Craft your action plan like this:

1. Break Down Objectives

Brainstorm specific strategies and tactics to achieve each marketing objective you defined earlier.

2. Identify Channels and Tools

Determine the most suitable marketing channels to reach your target audience. This could include social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, or content marketing initiatives.

3. Define Key Activities

Outline the key activities required for each tactic. For example, if a strategy involves social media marketing, your key activities might include creating engaging content, scheduling social media posts, and interacting with followers.

6. Establish a Timeline

Creating a clear timeline keeps your nonprofit marketing plan on track and ensures you meet your goals within a defined timeframe. This way, you establish milestones and deadlines for each key activity and objective, fostering accountability and progress.

Start by setting deadlines. Assign realistic deadlines for each key activity within your action plan. Consider the complexity of the task, the resources available, and any dependencies between activities.

Next, identify key milestones that represent significant progress toward achieving your overall goals. Milestones could include launching a new social media campaign, publishing a white paper, or reaching a specific website traffic target.

While deadlines are important for structure, it’s crucial to be flexible with your timeline. Be prepared to adjust your plan based on the performance of your marketing efforts and unforeseen circumstances. Here’s how to build flexibility into your timeline:

  • Schedule buffer periods. Allocate buffer periods within your timeline to account for unexpected delays or the need to adapt your strategy.
  • Regularly review and revise. Schedule regular check-ins to review your progress and revisit your timeline. As you gather data and analyze campaign performance, you may need to adjust deadlines or shift resources between activities.
  • Communicate effectively. Ensure clear communication with your team regarding deadlines and any adjustments made to the timeline.

Timeline Example

Here’s a simplified example of a timeline for the nonprofit marketing objective “Increase website traffic by 20% within the next quarter”:

1-2Keyword Research and Content CalendarConduct research to identify keywords relevant to your target audience. Develop a content calendar for blog posts that address these keywords and interests.
3-4Blog Post CreationWrite and publish two high-quality blog posts optimized for target keywords.
5-6Social Media Graphic DesignDesign visually appealing social media graphics to promote your blog content.
7-8Social Media Campaign LaunchLaunch a social media campaign promoting your blog posts and driving traffic to your website.
9-10Monitor and AnalyzeMonitor website traffic analytics and social media engagement metrics.
11Strategy AdaptationAnalyze data to identify areas for improvement and adjust your nonprofit marketing strategy as needed.

7. Track Results and Adjust Strategy

Tracking and measuring the results of your nonprofit marketing efforts is essential. This way, you can assess the effectiveness of your strategies and identify areas for improvement.

By analyzing data and metrics, you can learn what’s working well and what needs tweaking, helping refine your approach for better results.

Define Metrics and KPIs

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your marketing objectives. KPIs could include website traffic, lead generation like email signups or volunteer applications, email open rates, social media engagement metrics, or donation conversions.

Utilize Analytics Tools

Most marketing channels offer built-in analytics tools that track performance metrics. Utilize these tools to monitor your progress and get valuable insights. Popular website analytics tools include Google Analytics, while social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer built-in analytics dashboards.

Review and Refine

Schedule regular reviews – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – to analyze your performance data. Here’s what to consider during these reviews:

  • Are you on track to achieve your nonprofit marketing objectives?
  • Which marketing channels generate the most website traffic or engagement?
  • What type of content resonates most with your target audience?
  • Are there any areas where your strategy needs to be adjusted?

Measuring ROI for Your Nonprofit

While financial return on investment (ROI) is a traditional business metric, it’s equally important for nonprofits to measure the impact of their marketing efforts. Here’s how to approach ROI for your cause:

  • Go beyond money. Track metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and event attendance to gauge awareness. Monitor volunteer recruitment and new donor acquisition through different marketing channels.
  • Financial ROI considerations. Calculate cost-per-donor acquisition to assess fundraising efficiency. Track donation growth before and after campaigns to understand their impact.
  • Impact measurement. Connect marketing efforts to program results. For example, answer whether a social media campaign promoting a literacy program leads to increased enrollment.

Embrace a Growth Mindset

Nonprofit marketing is an ongoing process of experimentation and adaptation. Use your data to inform your decisions and continuously refine your approach for long-term growth and impact.

Document your learnings and success stories. This will help you build a knowledge base that informs future marketing efforts.

Top Nonprofit Marketing Strategies

Now that you have a solid foundation for creating your nonprofit marketing plan, let’s delve into specific strategies to maximize your impact:

Build a Nonprofit Website

Your website is the cornerstone of your digital nonprofit marketing strategy. It’s where visitors learn about your cause, connect with your mission, and take action through donations, volunteering, or advocacy. Here’s how to optimize it for maximum impact:

User-Friendly Design

Often cited as one of the most important web design principles, clarity and ease of navigation are crucial for a great on-page experience. Visitors should be able to find the information they need quickly and effortlessly.

The charity:water’s website exemplifies this. Their homepage features a clean layout with prominent menus and a large, impactful donation form urging visitors to take action:

If you want help in creating an impactful homepage, follow this guide on how to create a homepage that drives sales and conversions.

It’s also worth noting that first impressions matter. High-quality images, videos, and a consistent color scheme create a professional and engaging experience.

American Red Cross’ website uses powerful imagery and a user-friendly interface to connect with and evoke feelings in visitors:

Mission-Driven Content

Clearly articulate your organization’s mission, values, and the impact you create on your website.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has a dedicated Our Work section with clear explanations of their conservation efforts:

Highlight your impact by using data, statistics, and success stories to showcase the positive change you’re making.

The website of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital features patient testimonials and survival rates. This transparency builds trust and motivates visitors to get involved:

Optimized Donations and Volunteering

Make it easy to donate. Streamline the donation process with prominent Donate Now buttons and user-friendly donation forms. Consider offering multiple payment options to cater to different preferences.

The Nature Conservancy features a prominent Donate Now button on its homepage and offers a variety of one-time and recurring donation options:

Encourage volunteering by clearly showcasing opportunities with detailed descriptions and easy application processes.

The Habitat for Humanity’s website features a dedicated volunteer section with clear descriptions of volunteer roles, locations, and application steps:

Bonus Tip: Leverage Website Building Tools

Many website builders have user-friendly features specifically designed for nonprofits, allowing for easy creation of donation pages and volunteer signup forms.

For example, with Hostinger Website Builder, you can choose from various designer-made charity website templates to help you get your nonprofit organization online in no time.

Prioritize a Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing helps your nonprofit organization reach a vast audience beyond the limitations of physical location. Online marketing is also more cost-effective than traditional marketing campaigns. Here’s how to leverage its power for your nonprofit:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Simply put, SEO refers to optimizing your content with relevant keywords to improve your position in search engine results pages (SERPs). This ensures potential supporters searching for causes like yours can easily find your organization.

Follow our guide to learn how to write SEO-friendly content for your nonprofit website.

Example: imagine an animal welfare organization focusing on dog adoption. By strategically incorporating long-tail keywords like dog adoption near me, adopt a shelter dog, and rescue dogs, their website is more likely to appear at the top of search results for people interested in adopting a dog.

This increased visibility translates to more website visitors, potentially leading to more adoptions.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

PPC allows you to create targeted advertisements on search engines and social media platforms. You pay a fee only when someone clicks on your ad, maximizing your reach to specific demographics and interests aligned with your cause.

If you’re new to paid marketing, read our tutorial on how to get started with Google Ads.

Example: an environmental nonprofit organization working on forest conservation could utilize targeted PPC ads on social media platforms.

Their ads might display captivating images of a lush forest alongside a compelling call to action like Donate to Protect Our Trees. These targeted ads would reach people interested in environmental causes, potentially generating new donors and raising awareness about deforestation.

Crafting Compelling Digital Campaigns

Define your campaign goals – whether it’s raising awareness, increasing website traffic, or boosting donations. Tailor your digital marketing campaign to achieve those specific objectives.

Example: a children’s literacy nonprofit might launch a digital campaign during National Read a Book Day.

Their marketing team could use the following strategies:

  • SEO. Optimize blog posts about the importance of reading.
  • Social media. Share inspiring stories of children discovering the joy of reading.
  • Email marketing. Reach out to potential donors with information about their literacy programs.

This multi-faceted campaign could raise awareness, drive website traffic, and ultimately encourage donations to support their mission.

Focus on Content Marketing

Content marketing empowers you to educate your audience about your cause, build trust, and inspire action. Here’s how to leverage it effectively:

Create Valuable and Informative Content

Develop engaging content formats like blog posts, infographics, or eBooks that address issues relevant to your cause. Offer valuable information and insights that educate and empower your audience.

For example, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society publishes informative blog posts on its website that discuss the latest research on multiple sclerosis, treatment options, and living well with the condition.

This content empowers patients and educates the public, establishing the charity as a trusted resource.

Distribute Content Across Multiple Channels

Besides your website, share your content across various platforms like social media and email marketing campaigns to maximize reach and engagement by utilizing different channels.

Feeding America utilizes a multi-channel content marketing strategy:

They share blog posts, infographics, and video content on their website and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This diversified approach keeps their audience engaged and raises awareness about hunger and food insecurity in the United States.

Measure Your Impact

Track the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts by analyzing key metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and email open rates. This data helps you understand what resonates with your audience and refine your content strategy for greater impact.

For instance, a nonprofit focused on after-school programs for underprivileged youth could utilize website analytics tools to track which blog posts receive the most traffic and engagement. They might also monitor social media to see which content sparks the most conversation.

This data would help them understand the topics that resonate with their audience and allow them to tailor future content to maximize impact and secure support for their youth programs.

Use Video Marketing to Tell Your Story

Video marketing lets you connect with your audience on an emotional level and showcase the impact of your work in a compelling way. Here’s how to leverage video marketing for your nonprofit:

Craft Engaging Video Content

Move beyond simple facts and figures. Produce videos that tell powerful stories about the people your organization helps, the challenges you address, and the positive change you make.

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) creates emotionally-driven videos highlighting animal rescue stories and the work they do in animal shelters:

These videos evoke empathy and inspire viewers to donate or volunteer, directly impacting the lives of animals.

Optimize for Different Platforms

Tailor video content for specific platforms. Keep social media videos short and impactful, while website videos can be more in-depth. Utilize platform-specific features like captions and calls to action for maximum reach.

The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, creates short, powerful PSAs for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok:

These videos raise awareness about their services and encourage young people in need to seek help.

Measure Video Marketing Success

Use video analytics tools to track video views, shares, and click-through rates on calls to action. Analyze how video content contributes to fundraising efforts to gauge its effectiveness in driving donations.

For example, a nonprofit focused on environmental conservation could track video views, audience demographics, and how viewers interact with calls to action after watching videos about endangered species.

This data helps them understand the effectiveness of their video content in raising awareness and potentially driving donations to support their conservation efforts.

Build Community Through Social Media Marketing

Social media platforms offer a powerful way to connect with your audience, build a community around your cause, and spread awareness. They are also an excellent way of promoting your website for free. Here’s how to leverage social media effectively for your nonprofit:

Develop a Social Media Strategy

Start by defining your goals. Identify what you want to achieve through social media – whether it’s raising awareness about your cause, increasing engagement with your followers, driving donations to support your mission, or attracting volunteers to contribute their time and skills.

Next, craft a content calendar. Plan and schedule engaging content that aligns with your goals. This could include:

  • Impact stories. Share stories of the positive change your organization creates, highlighting the real-world impact of donations and volunteer efforts.
  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses. Offer followers a unique perspective on your work by showcasing what goes on behind the scenes of your organization.
  • Educational posts. Provide informative content related to your cause, educating your audience about the issues you address and the solutions you propose.
  • Calls to action. Encourage your followers to take action, whether it’s donating, volunteering, signing a petition, or simply sharing your content to raise awareness.

Example: A nonprofit focused on animal welfare could use social media to share heartwarming stories of successful pet adoptions, post educational content about responsible pet ownership, and run engaging campaigns to encourage donations for their animal shelter.

Foster Community and Encourage Sharing

Actively engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages promptly. This fosters a sense of community and encourages conversation around your cause.

Launch targeted social media campaigns to raise awareness about specific initiatives or fundraising efforts. Encourage followers to share your content to maximize reach and amplify your message.

Example: an environmental organization could use social media to launch a campaign promoting Earth Day.

They could share impactful visuals about environmental issues and encourage followers to share the content using a designated hashtag. This approach leverages the power of social sharing to spread awareness about environmental protection.

Engage With Followers Regularly

Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged. Don’t overwhelm them, but aim for regular updates with a variety of content formats to keep things interesting.

Here are some ideas:

  • Images. Eye-catching visuals can grab attention and effectively communicate your message.
  • Videos. Videos can be a powerful storytelling tool, allowing you to showcase your work and the impact you create in a dynamic way.
  • Text-based posts. Informative text posts can share updates, statistics, or interesting facts related to your cause.

Example: an educational nonprofit could use social media to share inspirational quotes, post thought-provoking questions related to education, and run interactive polls to gauge audience interest in different educational topics. This variety of content keeps followers engaged and interested in learning more.

Pro Tip

Consider looking into social media AI tools to help you streamline your social media marketing efforts.

Leverage Email Marketing to Connect With Your Audience

Craft targeted email campaigns that motivate action without overwhelming your subscribers. Personalize your message whenever possible.

If you’ve never done email marketing before, read our guide on how to create email newsletters to get started.

Segment your email lists based on demographics, interests, and donation history. This allows you to send more relevant and impactful messages.

Monitor key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates to assess the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital utilizes email marketing to share patient stories, fundraising updates, and event invitations. They segment their email lists to target specific donor groups with relevant content, leading to increased engagement and support. This is done by asking the subscriber to indicate their interest during the signup process:


Nonprofit marketing is about raising awareness, attracting donations, and recruiting volunteers for your cause. It uses strategies like content creation, social media engagement, and data analysis, differing from for-profit marketing’s focus on sales.

Building a strong marketing plan is your key to success. Set clear goals, understand your audience, and craft a message that resonates. Develop an action plan with specific steps, timelines, and budget allocation. Track your results and adapt your strategy as needed.

Leverage online marketing strategies like SEO and social media marketing to reach a wider audience. Create valuable content, use video storytelling to connect emotionally, and build a community through social media engagement. Targeted email marketing further strengthens connections with your audience.

Nonprofit Marketing FAQ

Find answers to the most common questions about nonprofit marketing below.

What Are the Key Components of Nonprofit Marketing?

Nonprofit marketing involves strategies to spread awareness, solicit donations, and attract volunteers. It utilizes content creation, social media engagement, events, and data analysis to achieve these goals.

Why Do Nonprofits Need Marketing?

A strong marketing strategy helps nonprofit organizations raise awareness for their cause, attract recurring donors, and recruit volunteers to fulfill their mission.

What Is the Difference Between Nonprofit Marketing and For-Profit Marketing?

Nonprofit marketing focuses on creating social impact and driving donations, while for-profit marketing aims to generate sales and revenue. Both utilize similar tools, but a nonprofit’s marketing strategy prioritizes mission-driven messaging, awareness marketing, and relationship-building with new supporters.

The author

Matleena Salminen

Matleena is a seasoned Content Writer with 5 years of content marketing experience. She has a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, website building, and AI. In her free time, Matleena enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese. Follow her on LinkedIn