Where Do I Focus? Targeting Tips for Non-Profits

December 14, 2023
Where Do I Focus? Targeting Tips for Non-Profits

Marketing in the non-profit sector can make you feel like a drop of water in the ocean. You’re being pulled in every direction, and it’s easy to lose focus without knowing how to find a clear direction for your strategy.

As a non-profit, you rely on donations and ongoing support to fuel the mission and carry the organization. But who’s your ideal donor, and how do you effectively keep your audiences engaged while making sure that you’re also bringing in new supporters as the methods of communication change?

Take a deep breath, and let’s unpack some areas of focus.


Define Your Ideal Audiences Through Persona Development

A persona is a representation of your ideal audience, developed through market research and data based on your existing donors. Preferably, an organization should develop multiple personas to effectively reach all target audiences. Then, create content specifically catered to those personas, such as relevant blogs, rich content, landing pages, and CTAs within your website, as well as social content on the channels where your ideal audiences spend time.

Every organization is different, so we never want to assume that your ideal donor is anything like every other non-profit. Therefore, it’s important to take a step back and analyze your current donor base and those who participate in your programs to find out where to lay a solid foundation and discover areas in which you should build.

Example Personas:

  • Donor
  • Volunteer
  • Corporate Sponsor

By the way, you can download our Non-Profit Persona Development Worksheet below to build them out to exactly fit your organization’s needs!

Think Bigger

In our work with non-profits, we’ve found that sometimes organizations focus so much on individual donors that they miss out on a bigger opportunity: corporate sponsorships.

Both individuals and large sponsorships are important, and we don’t want to undermine that. However, corporate sponsorships can have a trickle-down effect on every part of your organization. Although it’s a lot of work to gain large sponsorships, the effort will be worth it in the long run to sustain ongoing support.

Here’s How:

  • Corporate sponsors can give you validity within their company and the community.
  • Corporate employers can give employees the option to donate to your organization automatically during each pay period.
  • Corporations may offer a matching donation when employees donate.
  • Corporate sponsors could host “giving days” for both donations and volunteer hours from employees.

Through corporate partnerships, your non-profit can build ongoing support on a large scale and create individual promoters and volunteers, who will be your best ambassadors moving forward.

Get Creative

One of my favorite non-profit marketing campaigns was the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. During the summer that it went viral, more than 17 million people participated worldwide, and the association raised $115 million, which increased its annual research funding by 187%. This initiative has funded research and expanded the clinical network over the past five years, which is an incredible feat.

The campaign was creative, it captured attention worldwide, and the donations reached far beyond what anyone expected. As a marketer, what’s the most important part of that viral campaign? DATA. Creativity is always great to gain attention and hopefully an influx of donations, but make sure you back it with a strong strategy that uses data effectively to keep that support over time.

Keep Your Audiences In-The-Know

Marketing automation is key when it comes to staying in touch with your audiences. HubSpot has a great program for non-profits to attract and engage ideal audiences effectively, and we love how the platform can grow with your organization and it integrates well with other tools.

Use automation through email and social media to update your donors, volunteers, and program participators on all the news within your organization, which will allow them to feel that they have an important role in your story. Ongoing and effective communication will help keep your volunteers engaged and will increase ongoing donations.

Advertise Strategically

As a non-profit, budget is usually top of mind—but that doesn’t mean that advertising isn’t impossible. Apply for a Google Grant, and your qualifying non-profit could receive up to $10k per month in Google Ads! There are other means that are also low-budget yet effective.

No matter your method, get the most out of your spending through effective targeting, which goes back to your personas. Your content and creativity should also speak directly to those audiences.

If your audience is typically a bit more traditional and your organization advertises through television, radio, or mailers, find ways to modernize these efforts and make them trackable, such as unique URLs, QR codes, or landing pages to send prospects for more information where you can gather data. At the end of the day, it’s all about data and how you’ll use it to increase engagement in the future (which goes back to communication and automation).

Of course, you’re always going to be asked to do more with less, so think strategically about which times of the year you should boost your digital advertising efforts, such as leading up to Giving Tuesday.

Allow for Changes and Updates

As you “get to know” your personas more, you will need to tweak your descriptions of them, and your relationships will become stronger with potential donors, volunteers, and sponsors!

Don’t ever “set it and forget it” when it comes to marketing automation or ad campaigns: make sure that someone is managing your ads and performing ongoing data analytics and updates—or connect with a strategic partner agency to help you with the process.

Your work behind the scenes in a non-profit often goes unnoticed, but with these strategic tips for targeting, your efforts will not be in vain. Feel free to reach out to the Stratagon team if you have any specific questions!

Author Bio

Abigail is the Content Manager ("Content Queen"), which enables her to lead the copywriting team, craft compelling stories for clients across industries, and oversee contracts. Her professional background includes teaching and sales with 10+ years in research, copywriting, and editing. She has a knack for details and an in-depth knowledge of storytelling, content development, brand voice, and tone. She holds a BA in English from Campbell University and an MA in English from East Carolina University. As an adventurer, lifelong learner, and lover of cats & plants, she approaches every day with curiosity and gutsiness. Connect with her on LinkedIn!