Last year U.S. donors gave over $31,000,000,000 ONLINE. The last six years have seen online nonprofit support/donations grow an average of 10.7% per year.


This means that there is a steady shift in preference for how donors choose to interact with the nonprofits they support. 


  • Is your organization ready to compete online for new donors? 
  • Are you already accepting online donations on your website?
  • Do you solicit donor emails and stay in front of them with regular email campaigns?
  • Do you maintain an up-to-date and effective Donor Management System?
  • Do you utilize social media to promote your activities and campaigns and direct followers to your donation pages?


This overview of Digital Marketing Essentials for Nonprofits will be followed by a series of more in-depth articles focusing on each of the broad areas discussed below.



Every nonprofit MUST have a compelling website that serves as the center point for all digital marketing. You much capture the visitor’s attention and your mission must be presented in a compelling yet professional manner. Your website must be fully optimized for search engines as almost 50% of your website traffic will come from organic search.


Your website must quickly and effectively answer four questions donors and potential donors have:

  1. What is your cause?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. Where do the donated funds go?
  4. How can I get involved?


Your website must also have donor email capture funnels, general campaign donation funnels and specific campaign funnels. It must be integrated with your Donor Management System, your email marketing system and your social media channels.


It is vital that your website is continuously being updated with fresh content and that your staff can easily add content of make changes.


For the above reasons and more, we recommend that every nonprofit start with a customized WordPress website. Once properly setup you will be able to maintain it yourself. Search Engine Optimization, Donation Management, eCommerce, blogging, email list integration and more are all available via free or low cost plugins.


Our article on WordPress will go into more detail on preferred hosting vendors, themes, plugins and more.

Email Marketing

Email marketing will help your organization:

  • Develop and maintain a loyal donor base
  • Expand your reach
  • Attract more donations


There is no better, quicker or cheaper way to connect with your supporters and show them the impact their donations have and the gratitude your nonprofit has for them. Email marketing allows you to easily send event invitations, newsletters, donation appeals, retention and thank you emails.


Our article on Email Marketing will go in-depth detailing types and examples of winning email campaigns. We will also go over our recommended email marketing and email hosting providers.


Donor Management System 

A Donor Management System can range from your email list to a specialized CRM that shows donor histories and engagement. Using a Nonprofit CRM will allow your organization to better organize your data, more effectively manage donor relationships and tailor outreach strategies.


Donor Management Systems and CRMs can help with:

  • Major Giving
  • Volunteer Management
  • Event Management
  • Donor Stewardship
  • Prospect Research
  • Matching Gifts


Our CRMs for Nonprofits article will focus on Donor Management Systems that can be tightly integrated with your website,email marketing and social media.

Social Media

Every nonprofit should be active on multiple social media networks even though research shows that of all website traffic coming from social channels Facebook dominates with over 65%.


Nonprofits should follow some basic social media tactics:

  • Be consistent and active in posting
  • Choose a tone and voice and stick with it
  • Showcase results and impact of donations
  • Connect with your audience
  • Always include a clear CTA (Call to Action) when posting


The  #1 mistake nonprofits make with their websites and social media:


Sending website visitors to content on social media instead of sending social media visitors to website content.


Our Social Media for Nonprofits article will go into actionable examples of successful campaigns as well as upcoming trends.


We hope you have enjoyed this first article in our Digital Marketing of Nonprofits series. Be sure and sign-up to receive future articles.


About the Author:  C. Marshall (Chris) Smith is the founder of HypeSites, a digital marketing agency specializing in hypergrowth for businesses and nonprofits.

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