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Complete Guide to Nonprofit Marketing in 2021

Complete Guide to Nonprofit Marketing in 2021

Posted on May 4, 2021
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Every organization requires a marketing plan to increase its reach and attract potential buyers. Nonprofits also require marketing strategies that will help them reach more donors and attract volunteers and supporters.

Nonprofit marketing differs from marketing strategies adopted by other organizations that sell products or services. This is because nonprofit marketing focuses on selling a concept, in other words, the mission of the nonprofit. Nonprofit marketing strategies create awareness about the nonprofit and its purpose. These strategies are created for a niche audience that is looking for philanthropic opportunities.

Nonprofit marketing is more challenging than that for other types of businesses because the target audience widely varies in demographics, status in society, etc. Hence, marketing strategies need to cater to a diverse audience.

After the pandemic-ridden 2020, nonprofit marketing in 2021 needs some extra work to attract donors. Charity events such as auctions, runs, etc. are the mainstay for connecting with the audience. However, the pandemic has put a halt to any kind of physical event with the world going for virtual events.

Nonprofit marketing in 2021 will need to focus on digital marketing strategies to attract an audience. Digital marketing requires fund allocation. Hence, it is best that a nonprofit writes a marketing plan based on its goals and allocates specific funds based on different marketing strategies adopted.

Nonprofit Marketing Strategy for 2021:

Establish your Marketing Goals:

The first step for any planning is to establish your goals. This helps give a direction to all your marketing efforts. For instance, you could establish a goal of how many donations you expect from a specific marketing campaign. The current scenario has changed the concept of planning from “long-term planning to short-term.” You need to establish short-term goals for your non-profit because of the unpredictable future.

Determine Metrics

Once you have established your marketing goals, you need to determine metrics to assess whether you have reached your goals.


Budgeting your marketing expenses is very important while planning your strategy. A nonprofit has several other expenses to take care of besides the marketing expenses. Therefore, it is necessary for a nonprofit to prepare a budget allocating funds for all its expenses. Setting limits on expenses will ensure that the nonprofit organization does not go overboard with its expenses.

Managing income and expenses is vital for running a profitable nonprofit. Nonprofits should keep track of their expenditures to ensure that they do not exceed their income. It is a well-established fact that most profitable nonprofits keep track of their expenses by budgeting them.

Next arises the question, “How to prepare a non-profit budget?”

Nonprofits can think of following the 50 20 30 budget rule. 50 30 20 rule was popularized by Senator Elizabeth Warren in her book All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. This rule suggests how an individual/organization should split his after-tax income based on his needs/wants, etc. for better management of funds.According to this concept:

50% of the after-tax income should be allocated to the expenses associated with your needs.

30% of the rest should be used for wants.

And, the remaining 20% should be kept as savings.

This is a simple and easy to implement the rule that helps an organization reach its financial goals.

Let us now look at the basic expenses of a nonprofit:

Program Costs: These are expenses incurred in running the mission of the nonprofit. For instance, if the nonprofit is providing education to the poor, then its running costs would be the total expenses incurred in organizing classes, providing material such as books, stationery, etc.

Administrative Expenses: This is an umbrella term for all expenses incurred towards the operations and management of the nonprofit. These include costs towards office management, accounts, human resources, etc.

Fundraising Expenses: These include expenses incurred for conducting fundraising campaigns, managing donor lists, and all activities associated with soliciting donations.

These would constitute the need-based expenses. Going by the 50 30 20 budget rule, the nonprofit can allocate 50% of its expenses towards these expenses. Most of these expenses are fixed and a nonprofit can easily budget for them.

The next important expense is the marketing expense. Although one would be tempted to consider marketing expenses in the need category, it is better to put them in the “wants” category. This is because a nonprofit marketing budget is flexible. There are no fixed costs where marketing is concerned. Hence, the nonprofit can alter its marketing strategies based on the funds available. 30% of the total amount after the need-based expenses can be used for marketing campaigns. The nonprofit can choose the blend of different online marketing strategies that fit into the allocated amount.

Understanding your Audience

To ensure that your brand reaches your audience, you must understand your audience. This will help you create marketing strategies that are customized to the needs of your audience. You can enhance the experience of your audience by making data-based decisions. Data can be accessed through survey data, social listening, or even the form page responses, and many more. All these resources will provide you details like location, interests, preferred channels, etc. about your audience. This will help you tailor your marketing plans according to their needs.

Action Plan

Once the mix of digital marketing and offline marketing strategies are determined, you need to break down the goal into smaller bits. In other words, make an action plan of the sequence of activities to be performed to achieve the goal. You can make teams and assign specific goals to each team within a fixed budget.

Marketing Strategies

Let us take a look at the different inbound marketing strategies a nonprofit requires:

Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools for nonprofits because it offers an opportunity to connect with the audience at a personal level. You can automate email marketing and manage a growing email list, donations, etc.

Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is a proven technique for nonprofits to exhibit their brand personalities and easily engage with their followers and supporters.

Website: Your website is your “address” in the digital marketplace. This is where your visitors will gather all information about your nonprofit. What your organization stands for, how you function, etc. Ensure that you have a well-designed website in place that your audience can navigate easily. The website should be optimized for mobile. Besides, it should have clear CTAs. Make sure to update your website with fresh content so that your audience keeps coming back.

Video Marketing: Video content is the most in-demand content currently. Nonprofits can leverage the power of video marketing to garner the support of their audience.

Event Marketing: Event marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage a wide audience. With virtual events on the rise, nonprofits must look for software platforms like to host events that delight their audience.

Any nonprofit requires a mix of these strategies to advertise its services. However, each of these strategies has a cost associated. Also, not all marketing strategies are required by each nonprofit for promotion. Therefore, nonprofits should choose the best strategies to promote their brands. It is important to choose the right mix so that you get a good ROI.

If you have allocated a fixed amount for marketing your nonprofit, you can allocate fixed amounts for each marketing strategy.

Verify Results

You can check if you have got the desired result by comparing your results against the metrics established. This will provide you a feedback regarding the areas of improvement in your effort.

This is a basic structure for developing a marketing plan for your nonprofit. Based on this you can prepare a customized marketing plan for your nonprofit by including or eliminating the elements you require.

iConnectX is an organization that offers support to all nonprofits to achieve their marketing goals!