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3 key elements of an effective digital campaign strategy

August 10, 2020
An older smiling women sits at a desk with a computer.

Putting together a digital marketing campaign strategy for your nonprofit organization is essential for defining and reaching your fundraising goals. There are many moving parts to consider: your communication channels, digital platforms, and donation pages, to name a few. 

Your organization can compile its existing resources into a winning digital marketing campaign strategy by focusing on three key campaign elements: objectives, audience, and messaging.

1. Campaign objectives

Your campaign objectives will guide all communications and outreach. They provide critical structure for evaluating your campaign’s successes and places for improvement. You should organize your campaign objectives with a written plan that includes the following components:

General summary

First, summarize the context in which your organization is launching your digital marketing campaign, and clearly state why you’re running it. Begin by explaining what your goals are and what you plan to achieve. Is your main goal to raise funds? Acquire new advocates or volunteers? Engage existing or lapsed supporters? 

You can also include information about your organization’s history or your mission statement to contextualize your campaign. This should be written clearly, in no more than two pages, and in an easily digestible manner. Also, highlight high-level advocacy priorities for the campaign, such as fostering relationships with influencers, engaging with your grassroots supporters, and lobbying for relevant and timely policy initiatives. 

Stakeholder summary

Address any stakeholders involved with your organization so that you can properly understand their motivations and predict how they will interact with your message. 

Challenges summary

The best way to avoid unfavorable outcomes is to take a preventative approach. Identify the drawbacks of your plans and any obstacles you foresee with your team to make plans to address them if or when they occur. 

Outreach summary

Conduct research ahead of time to determine which communication channels and tactics have the greatest potential success based on your goals. 

Some factors to help you choose your channels include your supporters’ age, location, and preferred mode of communication. Then, consider these common outreach strategies:

  • Calls-to-action (CTAs)
  • Educational blog content
  • Multimedia content production 
  • Online panels or webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Search engine optimization
  • Online advertising
  • Cross-partner promotion

Budget summary

When deciding which marketing strategies to use, you should investigate how much it will cost to implement them. Here are some potential costs you should be aware of:

  • Licenses for digital marketing software, such as a CMS or website builder
  • Outsourced labor
  • Advertising spots
  • Equipment

Ensure you’re spending efficiently and only investing in worthwhile opportunities. Keep in mind that some service providers offer discounts for nonprofits, so don’t be afraid to contact your nonprofit tech vendors to confirm your expenditures. If you need further guidance about which solutions are right for you, consider working with a nonprofit tech professional and accountant. 

2. Target audience

The next step in defining your campaign strategy is to figure out who you’re trying to reach. Your digital campaign should target a specific, primary audience. To break this concept down further, it’s helpful to identify your target audience’s personas and motivators.


Personas are general representations of your target audience that can help you gain a better understanding of the groups you’re engaging with. By envisioning your audiences as individuals with specific wants, problems, and motivations, you can better plan your communication with them.

You can create a persona by answering questions, such as:

  • What sort of job might this person have, and in what industry?
  • What are their demographics?
  • How do they find, consume, and share content?
  • What are their biggest challenges, and how do they work to overcome them?
  • What goals might this person have?

At the end of the process, you should have a detailed profile of a potential donor down to their name, marital status, and occupation. Creating a persona allows you to stand in your audience members’ shoes to get a closer look at who you should market to and how.


Get a deep understanding of what motivates your audience to take action. You might do this by conducting market research or surveying your existing supporters about their motivations. Then, you can better align your campaign goals around what these audiences care about.

Having the ability to target and predict who your supporters will be and what motivates them to give removes the guesswork from list selection and segmentation, saving you time, effort, and resources throughout the process. This allows your organization to easily identify opportunities to engage your contacts, raise more, and optimize your programs for better outcomes.

3. Key messaging

After identifying your audience and what’s important to them, the next step is to think about how to frame your campaign messaging. One helpful step is to start by establishing a single, clear message you want to get across to an audience and treating it as a core tenet of each part of your campaign. 

As a nonprofit organization, this message should reference your values and overall purpose. Then, craft a few sub-messages that include specific wording and phrases you’d like to incorporate into your marketing collateral. 

Once you’ve created your core messaging, it’s time to decide how you’ll deliver it to your audience. These should be unique to specific channels, as well as specific segments of your audience. Here are some ways you can send messages to your audience.

Calls-to-action (CTAs)

CTAs are incredibly important to drive activity toward your campaign. They have a significant return on investment (ROI) due to how easy they are to implement. Your CTA can be as simple as a “Donate Now!” button in your social media bio or a prompt for website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. 

Each CTA should call for a specific, intentional action that aligns with your key messaging. Craft these CTAs for specific channels and audience segments. Take extra care with your fundraising CTAs by being sure they direct your audience to an optimized and user-friendly donation page.

Media mix

All media assets at your disposal fall somewhere in the framework of what’s called a “converging media mix.” This represents all of the communications channels and outreach efforts you’ll use during your campaign. There are four key strategy areas to this media mix: 

  • Owned media strategies
  • Shared media strategies
  • Earned media strategies
  • Paid media strategies

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy area so you can pick which options are best for you.

Owned media strategies

Owned media strategies use the channels that your brand controls. This may include your website, campaign page, blog, videos, webinars, or other assets that you maintain as part of your digital marketing campaign strategy. 

  • Pro: This is a great way to create long-term relationships with existing contacts and is usually the most cost-effective.
  • Con: This takes the longest to scale, as it takes time to build up audiences on your channels.

This is a long-term strategy that requires time to see results. Therefore, your nonprofit should look closely at your analytics for your owned media to determine how much you should invest in marketing on these sites.

Shared media strategies

Shared media includes any channel where you have some ownership, but not complete control. All social media channels fall into this category because you “share” the media with those that choose to engage with you. Shared media is vital for creating a buzz around your campaign—it’s much easier to get exposure if there’s chatter online about your cause.

  • Pro: This is the best strategy to create a conversation and spread awareness of your campaign. Content on shared media platforms is highly shareable, which means you can attract new supporters who haven’t heard of your organization before. 
  • Cons: While you control what you say, you can really only control one side of the conversation as it’s open to public discourse. Also, social media success is hit-or-miss and is largely due to algorithmic trends that can be hard to predict.

Social media, while unpredictable, is necessary to get more eyes on your campaign. Instead of spreading your content thin over numerous platforms, consider vesting your resources into two or three platforms where your target audience will see your materials.

Earned media strategies

Word-of-mouth advertisement, blogger outreach, and partnerships with other organizations all fall into the earned media category. Once you get buy-in from key influencers in your sphere, they will share your content with their audiences, greatly boosting your campaign’s reach.

  • Pro: As an external endorsement from outside individuals and organizations, it can significantly amplify the reach of your campaign.
  • Con: It’s the hardest to measure because you have limited control.

Making use of your shared media strategies is a great way to bolster your earned media strategies. Just ensure that you have open contact with your partners so that you can shape the narrative around your nonprofit as much as possible.

Paid media strategies

Simply put, paid media strategies require payment to use the channel. The most effective paid advertisements will drive your target audience to owned media in order to create more earned and shared media.

  • Pros: It can harness the power and reach of social media by using social media ad programs, such as Facebook ads and Twitter-promoted posts. Google even awards $10,000 in free ad space per month to qualified 501(c)(3) organizations through their Google Ad Grant program. Furthermore, paid ad campaign opportunities are on numerous websites and apps at many different price points, so you can customize your engagement.
  • Cons: It may take some time to establish a working knowledge of digital marketing platforms. Also, ads in the most visible places will be expensive.

Paid media strategies are the only channels that are guaranteed to reach more eyes, but you can only invest in them as much as your budget allows. Start small and invest in a few options to see which offer you the best returns before making a bigger commitment.

Start planning your digital campaign

Behind every great digital marketing campaign is a solid, detailed plan. No matter the size of your campaign, having a firm grasp on your campaign objectives, target audience, and messaging tactics is essential for achieving your goals. 

If you want more advice from a professional, consider consulting a nonprofit marketing specialist. They can help you set expectations and optimize your digital marketing campaign strategy with nonprofit marketing software. And, to learn more about how technology built to meet social good organizations’ needs can support your digital marketing campaigns, fundraising efforts, advocacy strategies, and more, get a demo.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing