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Creating a Holistic Nonprofit Marketing Strategy: 4 Tips

From your organization’s email newsletters to your direct mail materials, there are more channels and tools available than ever before that empower your nonprofit to market fundraising, volunteer, and advocacy opportunities to supporters. But in order for your marketing and communications efforts to be cohesive, trustworthy, and truly engaging, you need a holistic marketing strategy. 


A holistic marketing strategy is one in which various channels work together, building upon one another to help you accomplish your marketing and outreach goals. Creating one that works can be tricky, especially if you’re working with new technology or you’re unsure about how your organization can stand out from the crowd. 


From clearly defining your goals to working with a technology specialist, there are several steps you can take to build an effective strategy. In this quick guide, we’ll help you get started by exploring four tips for creating a holistic nonprofit marketing strategy. 

1. Carefully choose your marketing channels. 

It may be tempting to use every marketing channel at your nonprofit’s disposal to reach the highest number of supporters possible. However, every channel is unique and requires its own approach. 


So, instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to meet the demands of every channel out there, choose a handful of marketing channels and focus on perfecting your strategy for each. 


Here are a few channels to consider: 


  • Social media: Social media tools can be effective for reaching new audiences on the platforms they are already using. Each social network has a slightly different posting style (i.e., short videos on TikTok and short text-based posts on X), so prepare to adapt your content to each platform’s requirements. You can also take advantage of integrations between social media platforms and your chosen software solutions. For instance, you might integrate Meta with your database or peer-to-peer fundraising tool. This allows you to combine the tools’ functionality and gather data from your interactions on these platforms to further inform your strategy.  

  • Direct mail: This can be an expensive strategy, but is often worthwhile for connecting with older audiences. After all, since most mail today is just bills and ads, it can be nice to get something from an organization whose mission you truly care about. 

  • Email: Email streams can be helpful for sharing regular updates, event announcements, and fundraising appeals. Note that in order to cut through the noise of busy inboxes, you must master the art of writing a great subject line. Email is another area where you can take advantage of integrations between tools. For example, you could use your fundraising tools to track email open rates, conversion rates, and more. This allows you to get a better sense of how your emails are influencing your fundraising success. 

  • Your nonprofit website: Your site can serve as the “hub” of your organization’s digital marketing strategy. Here you can host educational information about your mission, provide useful resources (like a peer-to-peer fundraising guide for your supporters), and collect donations. If you’re creating your first website, consider partnering with a nonprofit consulting firm that specializes in web design to ensure your site has a great look and user experience. 

  • Google Ads: Google Ads are advertisements displayed on Google’s search engine results pages when someone googles something that aligns with the ad’s keyword. Typically organizations have to pay each time someone clicks on a Google Ad, but nonprofits can create and use Google Ads for free through the Google Ad Grant program. It only takes a few months to see results from a Google Ad Grant campaign!


To choose the marketing channels that are right for your organization, take into consideration your audience’s needs and preferences (more on this below), and how well you think your mission and needs will translate to each platform. 

2. Create a cohesive branding strategy. 

Nonprofits need a clear, attention-grabbing, and authentic brand to carry throughout their marketing strategy. This ties your various marketing efforts together, as supporters will recognize your branded materials across channels and understand that each touchpoint is part of a larger campaign run by your organization. 


Branding goes beyond your nonprofit’s color scheme and logo, including elements such as: 


  • Your brand positioning: Mission statement, audience, key messaging 
  • Visual assets: Color palette, logos, photography and videography style
  • Text assets: Typography, naming conventions, grammar and style
  • Platforms: Which channels you use and how your branding adjusts to work for each platform


When you create your branding guidelines, write them down and share the document with the various teams or individuals creating marketing materials for your organization. That way, they’ll have the context needed to ensure all communications are cohesive and align with your brand, whether they’re creating new graphic design assets or filming a thank-you video for a donor. 

3. Ensure your messages complement each other. 

Copying and pasting marketing communications across multiple channels won’t impress your supporters. Instead, it will work against you, causing them to tune out your messages after seeing the same thing over and over again. 


Solve this problem by creating unique marketing content for each channel in your strategy. This way, if a supporter encounters your content on multiple channels, it will feel like they’re seeing multiple aspects of your campaign’s story that add up to a cohesive narrative.  


For example, imagine that you’re creating a marketing campaign with the goal of getting people excited to volunteer and increasing sign-ups. Here’s how you could differentiate content across channels: 


  • On social media: Share a video interview in which you ask an experienced volunteer about their experiences. 

  • On your website: Write an in-depth explanation about the various volunteer opportunities you’re recruiting for and how supporters can sign up. 

  • Through direct mail: Send a postcard inviting recipients to attend a virtual information session about your volunteer program. 

  • Via email: Build an email that shares photos of volunteers at work with pull quotes from the interview shared on social media.

  • In a Google Ad: Create an ad campaign around keywords like “volunteer opportunities in [your city]” to target Google users in your area. 


In each of these instances, you’re sharing content related to the overall topic—increasing volunteer sign-ups—but you’re adjusting the angle and type of content to align with the platform it’s shared on. 

4. Use marketing data to elevate your strategy.

To take your efforts to the next level, collect data about the efficacy of your holistic marketing strategy and use that information to improve it. 


To collect this data, integrate your various marketing solutions (such as social networks, your website, your email automation tool, and so on) with your constituent relationship management (CRM) solution. Integrations allow all marketing data to flow into your CRM so it can then be examined in the greater context of your donor engagement data and the organization's overall health. 

Once you’ve collected your marketing data, ask yourself a few questions, like: 


  • Which channels have the highest engagement rates? 
  • Which channels lead to the most conversions?
  • How does our audience differ across channels?
  • Do the type of messages shared impact how supporters respond to a message? 
  • Are there any channels that don’t generate the amount of support you hoped for? 


Use the answers to these questions to continue optimizing your marketing strategy. The goal should be to engage the right supporter at the right time and through the marketing channel they prefer. Data is key to helping you do so. 

To have a truly holistic marketing strategy, consider each channel as part of your overall approach as opposed to individual outlets for connection. Follow the tips outlined above to get started, and remember that if you need guidance, working with a nonprofit technology expert is the best way to get solutions catered to your unique needs.

About the Author

Carl Diesing co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with ongoing web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As managing director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.

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