Your ultimate guide to nonprofit marketing

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Whatever type of company you work for, you want to make sure that you’re making the most of your marketing dollars, and this is especially relevant if you are part of a nonprofit organization. However, being on a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t market your organization successfully.

Below is a comprehensive guide to help you craft your nonprofit marketing plan and ideas to make it happen.

Why nonprofit marketing is important

While your business is nonprofit, a smart marketing plan — as it does for all businesses — will give you a set of tools to communicate your mission, fundraise for donations, and approach volunteers and advocates that will help you run your organization. Here are some examples of what you can achieve with nonprofit marketing:

1. Nonprofit marketing can increase awareness.

Nonprofit marketing can increase awareness both for your cause and your organization. In the same way you prefer a certain type of cereal or car brand, marketing can help people recognize your nonprofit and form an emotional bond with it.

2. Nonprofit marketing can help raise funds.

It will become a top-of-mind option when they want to donate or find a cause to invest their time into. The more people know about you, the more support you are likely to get. Marketing will help you define your cause, what you believe in, and why it’s important. By amplifying your message, you’re more likely to increase the number of donations or funding your receive.

3. Nonprofit marketing can help recruit volunteers.

Volunteers are an essential asset to many nonprofit organizations. Marketing will help you reach out to them and create a pool of people ready to help you.

How to create a nonprofit marketing plan

1. Know who your donors and supporters are.

For any marketing endeavor, it’s important that you understand your target demographic and how to communicate with them. This will allow you to strategically target your campaign in the right ways. Take some time to research your target audience through surveys and research. This will help you to communicate more effectively with them.

2. Define actionable goals.

When setting up your marketing plan, start by setting up goals to guide your marketing efforts. A helpful way to set goals is by using the SMART technique. This means setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely goals.

3. Segment your goals to different campaigns.

Consider your goals and the different audiences you are trying to target - one-off donors, large sum donors, those who contribute monthly or yearly, and volunteers. Each will require a different messaging and distribution strategy that can be added to your marketing plan.

4. Consider your budget.

Depending on your marketing goals, you will need to determine how to allocate your budget accordingly. Assessing your budget early on will help you prioritize campaigns and other minor decisions within your marketing plan.

5. Craft your message.

Craft a clear message to help you reach your goals. Whether it's your mission statement or a tagline, it should be easy to communicate your mission in an authentic and transparent way.

6. Create a tactical plan.

Once you've set your goals, messaging, and audience segmentation, form a set of tactics and a timeline that will allow you to accomplish your objectives.

7. Measure your performance.

As important as executing your plan is, so is evaluating how well it performed. By measuring your performance, you can refine and optimize your tactics accordingly.

Nonprofit marketing ideas

Here are a number of marketing channels and ideas that can inspire you when drafting your own marketing plan.

1. Build a website.

Your website is like your online slice of real estate. It's a place to showcase all your initiatives and success stories, encourage people to support your cause, and direct them to your social media channels to stay top of mind and on top of their feeds.

2. Send email newsletters.

Research from Hubspot(opens in a new tab or window) shows that 73 percent of millennials prefer to receive communication from organizations via email, which is why email is a great avenue for regular updates and boosting engagement. Create a cadence of emails, so every person in your database stays informed and engaged. Set up a content calendar to send out regular newsletters.

3. Create video content.

Video content is visual, dynamic, and likely to grab your audience’s attention. It can be educational and emotional, and it’s shareable. You can create a video(opens in a new tab or window) of the grassroots events you put on, your speaking engagements, testimonials from your supporters, or call out a donating challenge campaign where you spur your audience to hit a certain contribution target. A campaign featured in Forbes magazine(opens in a new tab or window) did just that to support a recovery fund for the bushfires in Australia.

4. Build your social media following.

Using social media channels is a great tactic to engage your community of supporters on a daily basis. Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube, and Instagram have different audiences, values, and functions. X (Twitter) is ideal for sharing ideas, while Instagram is a much more visual platform. Here are some creative ideas for different social channels:

Peer-to-peer campaigns on Facebook

A good example is the Malala Fund(opens in a new tab or window). Start a peer-to-peer campaign on Facebook to launch a fundraising drive on a follower’s birthday, graduation, or any other special day. Remember that Facebook has a “Donate Now” button that you can include on your posts for a clear call to action.

Live Instagram stories

With 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories should be in the mix of social media tactics. Why not try a live event or a Q&A session like this one by Stand Up for Cancer(opens in a new tab or window) - an interview with a documentary filmmaker, which got over 1 million views.

Create your live event invitations(opens in a new tab or window) from customizable templates on Canva.

Twitter thumb-stopping graphics

Engage your social audience by disrupting their social feed. Try giving them something to respond to by creating eye-catching graphics with an interactive element, such as a fill-in-the-blank challenge. in a new tab or window) invited people to guess how many drivers don’t use their seatbelts with this graphic:

Launch campaigner toolkits

Campaigner toolkits are downloadable assets that anyone can use to launch campaigns on behalf of your organization. They put the power in your supporters’ hands to help spread your message and increase your reach. And if you want to increase that reach on social media, include some ready-made social graphics in that toolkit. Easily create your own campaign posters(opens in a new tab or window) from free templates on Canva.


Just because your organization doesn’t aim for profit doesn’t mean you let your marketing efforts stay on the back burner. There are plenty of benefits to gain from knowing the best ways to market, including awareness, funds, and further support for your cause.

With Canva, amazingly simple design is at your fingertips. We make it easy for individuals and teams to collaborate and create stunning visuals, with no complicated software or design experience required. Take advantage of our templates and editing tools to plan and execute your nonprofit marketing plan and ultimately bring its full value to your organization.

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