While most small and large businesses now make use of digital marketing opportunities, nonprofits still have a long way to go in leveraging the advantages of digital media

Non-profit organizations face the same challenges as private businesses in trying to draw attention to their efforts through digital channels such as social media, search engines and email. But less than half have fully taken advantage of nonprofit digital marketing.

A new study shows that less than 50% of non-profit organizations have made a focused effort to spread their message online. That’s a missed opportunity that could lead to better funding for the nonprofit’s cause.

The study, from Tapp Network in Wilmington, Del., and San Francisco-based civil society organization consultancy TechSoup, found that nonprofits underuse social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, do not consistently produce content for websites and do not have email outreach campaigns.

Where Non-Profits Miss Out on Digital Marketing

The study found a variety of areas where organizations do not take advantage of nonprofit digital marketingopportunities. For example:

  • While many nonprofits have a presence on Facebook, only 41% reported taking advantage of Facebook Fundraising – even though 57% of those that do use it rated it somewhat or extremely successful.
  • 70% of respondents did not have a coherent email marketing strategy that includes systematic communication
  • 70% do not take advantage of email automation and 60% do not automate social media messages
  • Only 24% freshened content weekly, while 37% only refreshed content when told it was out of date

Clearly, the study findings show that non-profits could make enormous strides in visibility by making use of digital marketing strategies.

How Digital Marketing Can Benefit Nonprofits

Digital marketing, particularly earned media that comes from providing great content, is tailor made for nonprofits. Because they often operate on limited budgets, nonprofits cannot compete with private companies on many forms of advertising. Digital marketing can level the playing field.

The Philanthropy News Digest puts it simply: “These days, pretty much everything takes place online, and giving to charity or supporting a good cause is no different. Which is why charities and nonprofits hoping to stand out had better have a robust online presence.”

A professional digital marketing agency can provide guidance in many digital marketing strategies that fit all budgets. Some of the content-driven ideas include the following.

Email. Using email addresses given by contributors, nonprofits can consistently send information about what is happening with the organization, upcoming events and fundraising goals. While it ranks among the oldest digital marketing strategies, it’s also one of the most effective.

Website content. Nonprofits should strive to become a source of current, relevant information in its area of focus. The more quality content a website produces, the more the nonprofit is seen as a source of good information.

Social media engagement. It’s not enough to post on social media, although that’s a start. The most successful organizations engage with current and potential supporters where they meet online, offering interaction on topics around the charitable work the organization performs.

Updating a website. Many nonprofits use outdated websites that don’t provide the ease of navigation that keeps people on their site and coming back repeatedly. Updates websites can quickly draw much more online traffic.

These are just some of the ways nonprofit digital marketing can help charitable organizations grow their base of supporters and become more successful in getting messages out to the public. It’s something not enough nonprofits take advantage of, but the opportunity is there.