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5-step marketing plan to boost donations and engagement

March 22, 2022
This image shows a group of nonprofit professionals standing in front of a whiteboard and working on a marketing plan to boost donations.

Behind every effective fundraising campaign or event is an effective marketing plan. Whether your nonprofit organization is looking to raise awareness for an upcoming fundraising event or prepare marketing materials for your year-end campaign, proper planning will set you up for success.

To get up and running toward your next fundraising goal, take the time to meet with your leadership team and determine the best course of action according to your nonprofit’s unique priorities and needs. Follow these five steps to build a comprehensive marketing plan to optimize your fundraising efforts.

1. Define your marketing goal

A thoughtful and practical goal serves as the springboard for a productive campaign. It will not only direct your planning, but ensure that your organization’s fundraising efforts yield productive results. Your past event and campaign results can help you identify a wealth of actionable insights and areas of improvement, so take advantage of this information as you look ahead to future campaigns.

To determine what your marketing goal, ask yourself these questions:

  • What have we previously done well with fundraising?
  • What could we have done differently for better results?
  • What are our engagement priorities? Are we seeking to drive further engagement from current donors or acquire new ones?
  • What resources can we devote to our marketing efforts?

Your nonprofit organization already has all of the data and resources it needs to get started with an effective marketing plan. For additional insights, seek out feedback from your board members and staff to instruct your goal setting.

2. Determine your target audience

Maximize your marketing team’s efforts by identifying a target audience through donor segmentation and analyzing your organization’s goals. Depending on your defined goal, you could focus on engaging your existing donors or expanding your network to new, potential donors.

Next, focus on your organization’s purpose. Consider donors and prospects with backgrounds and interests that make them likely to engage with your cause. 

For deliberate and effective messaging, reach out to those in your audience who are most likely to listen and take action.

3. Plan your approach

Whether you’re marketing a fundraising event, an ongoing program, new initiative, or your organization’s story, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

Consider the following questions to guide your marketing approach:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • How are we reaching them?
  • When are we contacting them?

Depending on your audience, a multichannel approach can prove beneficial, as you can reach out to more supporters through a variety of communication methods. People of different ages and backgrounds could vary in communication preferences, from email, social media, and text messaging, so be intentional with your outreach and meet supporters where they most enjoy frequenting.

4. Craft your message

Your donor database and previous interactions with supporters can reveal your audience’s priorities and giving habits. As you prepare your messaging, lean into what connects donors to your nonprofit organization. Share stories of impact to help prospects and current supporters emotionally connect with your purpose.

You can also segment donors based on shared characteristics, such as their communication preferences and engagement history, to create donor personas. These fictional representations of different groups within your nonprofit’s audience can assist your team in creating more personalized communications that align best with your unique prospects and supporters.

5. Measure your results

During and after your campaign, your team should regularly measure results according to the goals you set at the start.

Address the following elements in your marketing plan:

  • Timeline: How often will you review your plan—monthly, quarterly, annually?
  • Metrics: How will you measure success? Consider website analytics, e-newsletter subscriptions, volunteer signups, or the number of donor gifts. Use your predefined goal to determine the appropriate metrics. 
  • Evaluation: How have your marketing activities changed or improved your organization in terms of your goal? Analyze what worked and why.

Gathering data and reviewing your campaign results will provide valuable insights into improvements you can make for future success.

Make the most of your marketing efforts

A solid marketing plan can be instrumental to achieving your organization’s fundraising goals. Remember that preparing for a campaign or fundraising initiative is a group effort, so share these ideas with your colleagues and enlist their feedback as you craft a game-changing marketing plan.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing