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Promoting Your Non-Profit Online in 7 Steps

By March 15, 2020No Comments

Every organization needs to learn how to tell their story well in order to bring others along in their journey. This means you have a more engaged audience when you are looking for human-power, donations, or advocates for your cause. Doing this requires taking into account the full landscape of digital media your supporters are consuming these days as well. From YouTube to Instagram and good ol’ fashion email, people will encounter your message in many different ways. The goal is that you have a plan to utilize those platforms effectively and achieve your goal of building a more engaged audience.

1. Identify Your Audiences

Starting with ‘audience’ we want to identify the different groups of people your non-profit is speaking to. You likely have at least two audiences including those you serve and those who support your organization. In a business, this is one audience, but as a non-profit, you need to be prepared to speak to each independently. You might also find that you have additional smaller audiences like a board, volunteers, or you might want to tailor communication to different levels of givers.

For each of your audiences, you should create an Audience Persona. This means at the very least, writing down a title and description of this group of people. A more extensive exercise would include identifying the types of communication that reach these people best, the places they spend their time online, likes, dislikes, and a sample bio of your typical audience member.

2. Establish Your Channels

Once you have identified audiences, you want to know how you can best reach that audience. Do you have their email address already or not? Are they social media savvy? Are they geographically defined? Each of these questions helps you identify where to put your efforts in reaching a particular audience. For example, many people struggle with how to engage their followers on Facebook, but if you have the email addresses of these people, don’t feel bad putting your efforts on the less sexy email campaign. And if your clients don’t have access to a particular technology, maybe posters are even better for you. By the time you have a clear picture of who your audience is, identifying where to reach them becomes easier.

3. Plan Your Schedule

How often should you be reaching your audiences? Do they require daily check-ins? Do you just need to solicit donations quarterly? Or maybe you only have a yearly on-ramping for volunteers. Luckily, once your audiences and channels are clear, deciding how much and how often to communicate becomes more clear. Now, you might need to also evaluate the man-power required to handle all of this communication. Do you need a dedicated social media manager? Or maybe you need to outsource mailings? With a clear schedule, you can plan your labor and you have a better picture of the budgetary resources needed over the year.

4. Bank Your Assets

Now, having budget on-hand for your communication tasks is helpful, but what you’ll find is harder to accomplish is creating a bank of communication assets to pull from as you ram up your publishing. Whether it’s photos, videos, testimonials, stories, etc. you’ll want to start gathering and producing these assets to power your campaigns. Maybe you even need to contract a graphic designer for a few hours so you have a nice, varied, collection of visual assets.

5. Create Your Content Upstream

Once you have your assets ready to go, you will want to understand where it’s best to start creating content. As you consider the content of your communication, where does it all end up pointing? In many cases, your website will be the destination for any calls to action. Are you seeking donors, volunteers, or newsletter subscriptions? All of those pages need compelling content first. If you are telling longer stories, start with your blog and point your social media posts back at it for further reading. Just be sure you think upstream as the starting point for your high quality content.

6. Publish to Your Channels

By the time you have reached this stage, your publishing should be a paint-by-numbers exercise. You should be able to copy and paste and schedule your posts across your channels. Consider using tools like Hootsuite to schedule and manage social media posting, and learn about all of the features of your email marketing platform in order to get the most out of each tool you use.

Don’t forget that human interaction will be essential as you release this communication as well. Your social media or communications managers will need to understand when to be expecting engagement from audiences receiving key communication.

7. Measure Your Success

As soon as you have published, you enter the measure phase of your operation. Understanding what to measure goes back to how you identified your audiences. Fundraising may be measured in money raised or new donors acquired. Normal story-telling may be measured in social media reach or shares. Emails will be measured in opens and clicks.

Every communication campaign should have a measure of success in order to justify the resources that go into them. With good data, you are able to make good decisions about everything in your plan that came before.

Good luck with your promotional plans!


Photo courtesy of Carli Jean on

Scott Bothel

I'm a digital marketing consultant living and working in the Greater Seattle area. My passion is to help small businesses leverage web marketing to accomplish great things!