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Much of what is discussed within the digital marketing space tends to focus on getting the most out of digital to drive sales, enquiries and conversions.

And yet charities and non-profits are often overlooked by our industry writers when it comes to offering help in driving donations and building relationships with their stakeholders.

Over the past few weeks, Econsultancy has published a number of posts covering TwitterPinterest and Facebook and now I have five more general tips, put together as part of our recent digital training day for non-profits to help maximise their presence online.

Understand your audience

Getting a firm grasp on who your audience are and what you want to achieve is paramount to any digital campaign and potentially even more important within a cash strapped non-profit environment.

Understand existing donors by researching their interests, motivations and needs and help potential donors through their decision-making cycle by tailoring your approach at each stage to inform and guide them.

Remember, it is only through a solid knowledge and understanding of how people interact with your brand that you can even contemplate creating content compelling enough to get them to open their wallets.

To start, check out the data you already have, mining your existing analytics to understand who is visiting your site. Take great care to drill down into metrics such as keyword performance to identify intent, but also pay close attention to internal search, as this may offer clues about persona behaviour or missed content opportunities.

When searching for demographic data, look no further than social networks (and no... I don’t mean Klout scores). People freely volunteer this information on social networks and tools such as Facebook Insights will give you a whole host of information about your existing community (who are likely visiting your website too).

Data such as age, gender, location and language is all available in seconds and tuned to your specific audience. Another fantastic tool is Demographics Pro which offers further detail again, but this time based on followers of your Twitter accounts.

For more information on using this data to help build marketing personas, Mike King gave a fantastic presentation at Pubcon which I highly recommend.



Possibly the most powerful weapons in any marketing arsenal are stories. There are plenty of charities in the UK and abroad that do some truly wonderful things and use these stories to create a connection with donors and offer a compelling argument to help the cause.

War Child Charity Facebook Page

War Child UK does a fantastic job of this on its Facebook page by mixing up entertaining content with serious images portraying the brilliant charity work it does in warzones.

Use your data

Charities hold onto a surprising amount of data that is not only interesting but useful too. Information such as how money raised has helped beneficiaries, academic, scientific and market research, and the information created within booklets, leaflets and fact sheets for use offline can all be repurposed and put to use as part of a digital marketing campaign.

Macmillan does a brilliant job of this within its Pinterest board. Their cancer information board alone - where it displays a number of infographics with data and answers to FAQs directly relevant to their user base - has well over 400 followers.

Macmillian's Use of Data on Pinterest

Not only does this display information in an easy to digest format for their users, it also opens up the brand and it's data to a whole new format, marketing channel and audience.

Google Grants

Did you know that charities can get free PPC advertising spend with Google AdWords? Well, they can.

Google Grants

Google offers charities a fairly substantial gift in the form of Google Grants. Having been running for 10 years, the Google Grants scheme offers charities up to $10,000 (that’s over £6000) of PPC advertising spend per month for free.

This opens up a whole new marketing channel for charities to target digital donors.

Steve Morgan recently wrote a fantastic roundup of Google Grants for Charities which covers the whole scope of the scheme from eligibility to tips on integrating with your digital marketing.

YouTube for non-profits

Non-profits have been engaging with YouTube for years, but it's still important to have a specific online video strategy that can influence viewers from being mere audience members to becoming donors.

Here Google come to the rescue again with the YouTube Non-Profit Program which provides extra benefits like branding capabilities, increased upload capacity and call-to-action overlays.

One key feature is Video Annotations which can be used to add interactive commentary to videos, and for charities and non-profits, they can be used to link to external sites helping to drive visitors to the donate page

Even better for non-profits is the call-to-action feature which allows you to drive donations through the YouTube video and channel themselves. You can see this in action via UNICEF UK’s YouTube page and videos.

So there we have it. Five quick tips for non-profits to rock the digital age without having to spend the earth, but I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts and experiences. Do you run a charity? How do you market yourselves online? Leave a message in the comments below and share your stories with us.

Andrew Isidoro

Published 1 May, 2013 by Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro is SEO Manager at GoCompare.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Andrew on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

7 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Tom Byrne

I would say a key consideration is not over posting/promoting.

Cancer Research's 'Dryathlon' (a ludicrous idea to begin with) severely overpromoted their idea and judging by some of the twitter and facebook comments i saw, caused alot of people to switch off.

almost 4 years ago


Michel Law, Attorney at Medical Malpractice Law Firm

good information! but yes at the same time over promoting the ideas as said above may also lead to wrong conclusions or judgement by the people as they may get a wrong impression or misunderstandings about the companies doing their job aggressively for just promotion.

almost 4 years ago


Jo Macauley-Weeks

All insightful, valid tips. If I had to add anything to this list, I would highlight the importance of investment in your digital/social strategy. Many charities are woefully behind on a critical means of communication and fundraising, leaving their rivals light years ahead.

If you are going to have an active account with every social network, ensure you have skilled people manning and monitoring those accounts outside of office hours. It's all very well linking to great content and driving traffic to your site, but Social is about having a conversation, not a monologue. Supporters who go ignored when they're seeking engagement won't be supporters for long.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro, SEO Manager at Gocompare.com

I agree with both Michel and Tom. I think this aligns well with understanding the audience. Not just as customers but also the platform in which you are operating.

I also think Jo has hit the nail on the head. It's amazing how much money is spent on PR and Comms yet digital is left in the background as an afterthought. Our training day (that we are running today) hopes to show the worth in digital and point out places for improvement and investment.

almost 4 years ago


Viv Slack

Nice summary. Point 1 about understanding your supporters is key, especially if you can get clever about it and personalise the experience for them to make it relevant. Its really important to track and analyse your supporters actions and interests and make sure what you push to them is appropriate.

The recent Sitecore blog mentions a good example - someone who has just given up a week of evenings volunteering or has just made a big donation might feel a bit put out my a marketing email asking for more money.


This is something we are definitely planning to do more of for our charities.

almost 4 years ago



Good article, however it would be good to know more about how you think charities can use the personas for SEO...standard keyword strategies don't quite apply...

almost 4 years ago


Nahida Meah

I wasn't aware that charities could get grants for their PPC. More good news for charities!

Charities are difficult wrap your head around since they aren't profit driven so you can't really entice 'customers' with freebies.

The marketing company I work for have a non-profit organisation they are trying to market. The trouble is that they have such a small budget that we can't use shortcuts like PPC and promoted posts on social media.

We found that creating conversations with people on social networks Facebook and Twitter as being one of the best ways to get traffic. The article has shown a great example of Pinterest being used effectively - I love the use of infographics and I'm sure others do as well. REMEMBER, you can borrow data from others instead of spending money on creating your own.

almost 4 years ago

Andrew Isidoro

Andrew Isidoro, SEO Manager at Gocompare.com

I agree with your last point Nahida. There are some great sources of data that can be made into infographics (only if worthwhile to the audience though).

Den - I think it's time we as digital marketers stepped away from seeing our audiences, customers and clients as keywords. Understand who your stakeholders are and what influences them and your keyword research suddenly become a lot less important.

almost 4 years ago

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