Best Digital Marketing Strategies For Nonprofits & NGOs

Jul 2023

One of the struggles many nonprofits face when entering the digital marketing sphere is not knowing how to compete with big corporations for digital real estate. Few of these organizations have dedicated in-house marketing teams to research, strategize, and operate a full-fledged funnel approach. Not to mention the big bucks it takes to compete in the advertising space.

As a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at KWSM: a digital marketing agency, I’ve worked with various nonprofits over the years, each with a unique mission and digital marketing objectives – awareness, fundraising, social media growth, etc. Though the nature of their work differs, I’ve noticed similar trends regarding their top drivers of success. In this blog, I’ll discuss what I’ve seen to be the best tactics in digital marketing for nonprofits.

For the past 14 years, KWSM has helped numerous nonprofits drive successful donation campaigns, spread awareness of their missions to new audiences, increase foot traffic at public events, and more. While we have used various digital marketing tactics to accomplish those goals, we’ve seen a handful work better than others, especially in today’s online climate.

Digital Marketing For Nonprofits: How To Generate Big Results With A Small Budget

I recently compiled the results from my own nonprofit clients over the years and did some research to compare what they are experiencing with other organizations across the country. 

Top Marketing Tactics For Nonprofits

Here are four of the most effective tactics I’ve used and seen to be successful, especially in the past 6 months.

Email Marketing

This is one of the best tactics for nurturing relationships and transforming followers into supporters.

The “Rule of 7” in marketing states that, on average, people will need to see your marketing messages seven times before they take the action you want them to take. This means you need to have a funnel designed to make them see you seven times – at least! 

Email marketing is a great, low-budget way to get in front of your audience multiple times because you’re sending content straight to their inboxes.

Even if you start with a small email list (prospects, past donors, contacts from past events, etc), you can leverage automated emails to stay top-of-mind. By simply keeping in touch and updating your email list with pictures/videos and stories about the good work you’re doing, you could turn one-time donors into recurring givers who avidly support your mission. As your contact list grows from Top-Of-Funnel (TOF) efforts, simply drop them into your newsletter and/or automation lists to see how staying in touch can make a difference.

Pro tip: Segment your audiences based on who has donated in the past, who has NOT yet donated, and who your recurring donors are. Then, personalize your content experience for each segment to increase your open rate and engagement. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Every day, businesses are adding more and more content to their websites in an effort to rank higher in Google Search – SEO is the key to accomplishing that goal. Having a solid SEO strategy will be the determining factor in who shows up at the top of Search results in 2024. 

Without good optimization in the backend of your website, no matter how many blogs you’re writing each week or new pages you’re adding to your website, Google simply will not promote your pages organically. Organizations that want to rank above competitors and get more eyes on their content will need to implement SEO tactics into their marketing plan. 

On February 1, 2023, we began SEO services for one of the agency’s nonprofit clients. In just four months, by implementing proper backend SEO tactics on the site, we have increased overall traffic to their website from organic search by 19%, increased the volume of new users from organic search by 22%, and increased the visits to the donation/giving page from organic search by 18% compared to the prior 4-month period.


Similar to email marketing, SMS (text message marketing) is a great tool to ensure that your content is being delivered straight to your audience’s digital inbox. If you’re trying to reach your existing contacts to inform them about an upcoming event, campaign, or timely update, or to get them to take a specific action, SMS can be really valuable. 

If you’re planning to add SMS marketing into your strategy, make sure to familiarize yourself with the new SMS regulations launching on July 5, 2023: A2P 10DLC Registration. These new regulations will help improve deliverability and avoid your content being marked as spam, as well as improve your audience’s user experience. 


Since nonprofits rely on donations from individuals and organizations, it is imperative that they can showcase their work and their mission in a concise, compelling, and convincing manner. Video is a must-have in order to capture your audience’s attention, build their trust, and motivate them to take action.

Every week, I incorporate at least one video into my nonprofit clients’ social media content calendars. At the end of each month when we look over the social media report, our videos are always the pieces with the highest engagement. Why? Because people want to see other people and hear their stories

Not to mention, implementing videos regularly on social media gives you a great opportunity to retarget people in the future. Meta Advertising provides a target audience segment of users who have watched your videos. That way you can segment new ads to people who are already more familiar with your organization from previous videos, and guide them on to the next step down your marketing funnel.

For more, check out our recent blog on six ways video helps small businesses and organizations drive results

How To Level Up Your Nonprofit’s Digital Marketing Strategy

There are some common mistakes I see a lot of organizations make that run their budgets dry without much ROI. If you want your digital marketing to go from “ok” to effective, consider pivoting your strategy in these two ways. 

Stop Doing “The Most”

We understand that when your budget is limited, you can’t exactly throw money at the wall to see what sticks – and we wouldn’t recommend that anyway. 

What each organization needs is a personalized strategy that puts the most eggs in the basket that brings the best results. Instead of trying to be in all places at once, we always say, “Fish where there are fish.” Take a look at each of the digital marketing tactics you’ve tried and calculate their respective ROI. Which platforms aren’t serving you well? Where are you seeing the best results? Can you spend more time or budget on those channels to make them even more effective?

At KWSM, the first step we take with every potential client is to guide them through a comprehensive 6-week strategy process. We spend the first few weeks analyzing the competitive landscape, assessing current website health, identifying SEO opportunities, determining  brand messaging effectiveness, and auditing all existing digital marketing channels to see where the most value is coming from. Then, we design 3 campaigns that capitalize on those channels and introduce new opportunities we believe will bring the most success based on their goals. 

This type of auditing is essential in determining which tactics are draining your time and budget with little payoff, and in strategizing where those resources would be better spent.

Be More Strategic In Your Ads

One of the biggest mistakes we see nonprofits making is putting a very small amount of money behind social media ads and PPC ads each month only to realize at the end of the year that they’ve spent thousands of dollars on campaigns that brought no results. 

While Meta Ads, Tik Tok Ads, YouTube Ads, and Google Ads can all be used effectively by nonprofits, they require strategic planning and budget allocation to be worthwhile. 

Instead of running these on a whim, it’s important to develop a well-thought-out advertising strategy that runs in tandem with the other steps in your marketing funnel.

Are You Ready To Get More Eyes on Your Nonprofit?

We understand that you might not have the resources to hire an in-house marketing team, or the time to do it yourself. At KWSM, we take the time to get to know you – your mission, passions, and goals, so we can serve as an extension of your team and drive the results you’re looking for. 

To learn more about our 6-week strategy process, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch. 

Fill out the form below to start your conversation with KWSM.

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