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Digital Marketing 11 min read

Digital Marketing for Nonprofits: Everything You Need to Know

Natalie Yelton photo

Written by Natalie Yelton

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 10 Nov 2021

Online fundraising revenue at American nonprofits rose a record 32% last year — up from a 10% increase in the year prior — while the number of online gifts rose 28%, a recent study by M+R finds.

Further, the study also found that nonprofit spending on digital ads jumped a whopping 33% last year.  

If your nonprofit is missing a comprehensive and focussed digital marketing strategy, you risk your voice going unheard online while losing sight of your mission. 

From tough competition to squeezed budgets and smaller than average teams, Galactic Fed is acutely aware of the pressure put on nonprofits when it comes to digital marketing. In response, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide to digital marketing for nonprofits! 

In this article, we define what exactly nonprofit digital marketing is. We also walk you through our 6-step guide to building a winning digital marketing strategy. 

Defining nonprofit marketing 

You probably already rely on several essential tools to reach and engage your supporters online if you’re an established nonprofit. You may have gifting functionality on your website that allows site visitors to make donations, and you may utilize various online marketing tools to promote upcoming campaigns and events. 

Having the right tools is only half of the equation. 

Careful and considered planning and coordination ensured your tools and strategies work together and complement each other.

Queue a nonprofit marketing strategy. 

Nonprofit digital marketing is the detailed plan of how you’ll reach specified fundraising, donor engagement, or supporter conversion goals through online methods. 

Your nonprofit’s overall mission, available technology, and budget impact your marketing strategy. 

Nonprofits use four common channels and tools for delivering their digital marketing strategy, which includes: 

Your website

Your nonprofit’s website is an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. It’s the central hub of your online engagement. People come to your site to learn more about your mission and current campaigns. They also come to your site to donate. The design of your website, how easy it is to navigate, and the content you provide all contribute significantly to your digital marketing efforts.   


charity: water progress update.

Source: Dollars to Projects

Email marketing is a tried and tested method of engaging your audience. It allows your nonprofit to send tailored messages to supporters, thank people for their donations, and promote other targeted content quickly, easily, and cheaply.

And some surveys show an average nonprofit email open rate above 34%, which makes email marketing a powerful tool for nonprofits.

If you’re looking to boost your email marketing campaigns, take a look at your guide to email marketing that converts before making a start. 

Social Media 

Social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are great ways to engage your target audience while keeping costs down. The more sharable your content is, the better. And with the rise of the micro-influencer, user-generated content can help raise your nonprofit’s profit online and engage an even wider audience.

Paid Media 

When delivered in tandem with effective SEO, paid media has the power to transform your digital marketing efforts. Whether it’s an upcoming campaign, a new app, or refreshed service offer, running a digital ad campaign can ensure you’re reaching the people that matter through the platform that suits them.

Check out our beginner’s guide to running Google Ads to help you begin. 

Now, let’s dive into Galactic Fed’s step-by-step digital marketing guide for nonprofits!

Set SMART objectives

Your nonprofit’s digital marketing strategy’s sole purpose should be to turn your mission and big-picture goals into actionable objectives.

You’ll also want to ensure your objectives are S-M-A-R-T:


Developing specific goals is the first thing your nonprofit can do to increase the likelihood of a successful digital marketing campaign.  Specific organizational goals that are defined should be clear and make sense to everyone involved in reaching them.  Your particular goals should also include in-depth details about what your nonprofit aims to achieve, why, and how each goal will help realize your mission.


If your nonprofit’s goals are not measurable, how will you know if you successfully achieve them or not?  The answer is sadly that you won’t.  Make sure your nonprofit’s goals are measurable while adding an element of accountability.  Measuring impact also allows your nonprofit to understand where you are in achieving each goal while creating transparency with your board and the public. 


When trying to determine whether one of your goals is indeed achievable, your nonprofit should attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have access to the resources needed to achieve the goal within the proposed time frame?
  • What does achieving each goal look like? Does it align with your mission?
  • How long will it take to achieve this goal? What is the optimal timeline to reach the end result?
  • How will your nonprofit’s other goals affect your ability to carry out the digital marketing goal timeline?


The truth is achieving goals is all about timing.  Determining whether your nonprofit’s goals are relevant today is essential in the prioritization process. 

A goal that’s not relevant today may end up being extremely relevant later on. Carve out some time to list out all of your nonprofit’s SMART objectives by relevancy.  Completing this task can create a process for your nonprofit to double-check relevancy and allow you to revisit goals in the future.


Your nonprofit’s objectives must have a timeline attached with them.  

  • When do you plan to achieve each goal? 
  • When do you plan to begin focusing on another goal? 

Determining a plan for when you will focus on each goal will dramatically improve the likelihood of your nonprofit reaching key milestones on time.

Prep your analytics 

In addition to setting digital marketing objectives, this is one of the first tasks your nonprofit should complete. If your nonprofit’s website is already up and running, this should happen before you act on any digital marketing tactics. Galactic Fed recommends equipping your site with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These online tools are offered free from Google making them easy on your nonprofit’s digital marketing budget.

Google Analytics helps you track who visits your site, including what channel site visitors are using before landing on your website. This could be from an email, a paid ad, or social media. This allows your nonprofit to measure how effective each of your online marketing initiatives is at engaging your key audience. Tracking landing page visits is one of many metrics Analytics Tracking can complete for your nonprofit. 

Search Console tools and reports.

Source: Google Search Console 

On the flip side, Google Search Console gives your nonprofit valuable insight into the words people search for and click, leading to them landing on your website. These words resonate with your key audience. Knowing and understanding their intent can help inform future messaging for your digital marketing efforts.

Optimize your website 

Your nonprofit’s website must be firing on all cylinders to ensure your digital marketing efforts stand a fighting chance. 

Performing a content audit can give everyone at your nonprofit an idea of all of the content you have, if it’s successful at converting people into supporters or donors, and if it’s on-brand. 

A good website spring clean is worthwhile, any time of year, and can positively impact the digital marketing tactics your nonprofit deploys.

Get to know your audience 

Just like an e-commerce firm needs to continuously understand its target buyer persona, your nonprofit must have a good grasp of who your users are - whether they may be supporters, donors, or service users. 

If you’ve explored who your users are and what their needs are in the past and think job done - think again. User behavior shifts and changes over time, and what worked for engaging your audience six months ago might not necessarily do the trick tomorrow. 

For further reading on building a user persona and why they matter, see our recent blog that details the topic.

Research your keywords 

For both paid media and SEO, comprehensive keyword research is a must. 

We’ve created a definitive guide to keyword research that will help get your nonprofit on the right track from the beginning. 

To supercharge your keyword research, try building a topic map for your nonprofit. Because of Google’s ranking methodologies and changes in the way users search for information on the web, optimizing your content around topic clusters instead of focusing only on matching exact keywords can be extremely powerful.

Keyword research plays a massive part in determining which topics your nonprofit should go after regarding paid ads, too. Still, search engines consider the entire content ecosystem when delivering results to people searching online, so go beyond single-page optimization to see impressive results. 

Learn what other nonprofits are doing

Analyzing what your nonprofit competitors are up to is a critical step in any nonprofit digital marketing strategy. 

What keywords are they going after?

What keywords are they ranking for? 

Understanding how your competitors position themselves can give you insight into ensuring you’re communicating what sets you apart from the rest. After all, it can be a very crowded space online, and there are several good causes out there. Why should a supporter, donor, or potential partner decide to give their money, time, or endorsement to your nonprofit instead of another? 

Boost your nonprofit’s online presence 

Your digital marketing efforts will be primed for success with clear, agreed objectives and online analytics set up and ready to go. 

Next, ensure your nonprofit’s website is optimized and check in with who your audience is and what their needs are. 

Lastly, undertake robust keyword research while at the same time analyzing what your competitors are up to online. 

There’s nothing more rewarding than teaming up with a nonprofit to help them achieve its mission. Most recently, Galactic Fed partnered with The American Youth Literacy Foundation to expand the reach of their free reading programs. 

The Funetix app helps children—particularly underprivileged children and kids with learning challenges—read English through a science-based curriculum. We created a plan to combine paid ads with landing page optimization, hone their target audiences, conduct extensive keyword research, and built a Google Ads campaign optimized for demo button clicks and leads. This led to a 260% increase in impressions and 433% increase in conversions: 

Galactic Fed Performance Results

Do you want to supercharge your nonprofit’s digital marketing strategy and see results similar to FUNetix? We’d be happy to assist! Contact us today.

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Natalie Yelton photo

Natalie Yelton

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed