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.