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5 Digital-Only Nonprofit Marketing Campaign Examples

fundraising nonprofit Mar 17, 2020

“Yeah, I recognize direct mail generates more fundraising revenue than digital but….”

 How many times a year do I say this? Too many to count. Yep, it’s true, direct mail raises tons more money than online fundraising channels. However, online fundraising revenue has steadily increased year over year. Even in years where fundraising overall has been flat, digital has increased. In my previous work with fundraising agencies for nonprofits, the client mix was focused on direct mail as the primary fundraising channel with digital as an afterthought. And I can sorta be ok with that.

What’s not OK is to be complacent with digital or just limit it to email or fundraising campaigns. There are so many ways that you can capitalize on digital marketing tools to connect with your current and prospective donors. For example, just creating a blog post provides content that you can share on social media, email, and direct mail. Let’s check out 5 different types of digital-only campaigns, along with recommended digital marketing channels, that don’t even have to bring direct mail into the equation:

  1. Fundraising Campaign – Naturally, my default campaign is going to be a fundraising campaign, since these bring money into your nonprofit. Consider an offer based on one of these themes:
    1. Seasonal or Temperature-based – If you live in an area with extreme hot or cold temperatures, you can quickly execute a digital campaign to raise emergency funds.
    2. Funding an Item – Maybe your organization needs to fund new kitchen appliances, backpacks for back to school, or X amount of kennels. Try a smaller campaign using just digital channels.
    3. Sustainer Offer – You’ll likely have some form of sustainer offer through direct mail. In addition to integrating digital with that offer, you can also run other sustainer offers throughout the year to test messaging and creative.

Channels used: Email, website banner, search engine marketing (Google Ads or Google Ad Grants), organic social media posts, paid social media, blog posts, SMS messages.

  1. Volunteer Campaign – Aside from a fundraising campaign, you may consider running a digital campaign for another type of asset. Volunteers. Many direct mail programs won’t include a volunteer-based program because they are usually direct-response fundraising By connecting with donors or the community through email and social media, you can easily and inexpensively acquire new volunteers for your organization that has a passion to serve…but haven’t been asked. It’s up to you to ask them, so build out a campaign around bringing them in the door to help.

Channels used: Email, website banner, search engine marketing (Google Ads or Google Ad Grants), organic social media posts, paid social media, blog posts, SMS messages.

  1. Blog Campaign – If you’ve been building your blog up for months or years and it’s full of useful content for donors and prospective donors, then build a campaign around your blog to let people know. If you’re just starting with your blog, then I wouldn’t recommend building a campaign around your blog, but I would recommend sending an email to subscribers and post on social media about it. Quick tip, if you do have a blog, end your blog posts with a call to action to either donate, volunteer, or join email list. This will allow your nonprofit to use its blog as a content funnel that bring more value to the nonprofit through donations, volunteers or subscribers.

Channels used: Email, website banner, Google Ad Grants, organic social media posts, paid social media, SMS messages.

  1. Disaster Response – During times of disaster, timing is everything. Your nonprofit cannot afford to wait for direct mail pieces to be printed because giving is tied to emotion. When emotion is high, right after disaster strikes, this is when donors open their pockets the most. To say having a digital campaign ready to go for disasters is an understatement. If your nonprofit is remotely involved with disaster response (even unforeseen events like the coronavirus), then you should have assets created and ready to go in advance so all you have to do is update copy and images, then hit “send.” This means having campaigns built-in Facebook and Google that just need to be modified before activating.

 Channels used: Email, website banner, search engine marketing (Google Ads or Google Ad Grants), organic social media posts, paid social media, blog posts, SMS messages.

  1. Facebook (or other Peer to Peer) Campaign – Facebook offers a great tool to raise money through Facebook Fundraisers. Granted, you only will have access to the donor’s data if they opt to share it with you, it’s a great way to generate revenue relatively inexpensively. My advice would be to send an email out to your subscribers and ask them to keep your organization in mind if they do a fundraiser for their birthdays. Your nonprofit will need to be enrolled in Facebook Payments in order to qualify for Facebook Fundraisers.

Channels used: Email, website banner, organic social media posts

To maximize revenue on your digital-only campaigns, most will need to be enhanced through the use of paid digital media (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc). Otherwise, you’re relying strictly on organic posts, organic web traffic, or email opens. Some of these campaigns can be planned in advance, while others are more in response to weather or disaster. Either way, this puts more weapons in your fundraising and marketing arsenal, providing another touchpoint with your donors.

Your turn: Have you tried any digital-only campaigns with your nonprofit? If so, what did you do, how did it perform, and what did you learn?

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