How Today’s Nonprofits Are Investing in Digital Marketing

By eleventy marketing group

Nonprofits have a lot of options when it comes to digital marketing investmentWhile nonprofits have been using mail, phone and event marketing for decades, online marketing is still a relatively new nonprofit tool. And a constantly changing one too. Where there was once email and websites, there is now social media, content marketing, peer-to-peer fundraising, mobile apps, landing pages, data analytics, and more.

With so many avenues and options, developing digital best practices has been a slow process for nonprofit organizations. Pair that with the fact that what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow and you have a lot of nonprofit leaders scratching their heads when it comes to digital marketing.

So where do today’s nonprofits stand when it comes to digital marketing? What areas do they view as priorities? Where are they investing their online dollars? Today, we’ll try to answer those questions and give you a better idea how nonprofits are approaching digital marketing.

About the 2014 Interactive Investment Benchmark Study

Charity Dynamics recently released the “Interactive Investment Benchmark Study: How Today’s Nonprofits Approach Digital Spending and Why It Matters to You”. The goal of this study was to learn how nonprofits perceive digital marketing and how they are investing in it.

The insights presented in this report come from the responses of 332 nonprofit professionals shared in early 2014. It’s important to note that 55% of the respondents in this study were from small nonprofits (with annual revenue of $5 million or less), while 26% were from nonprofits with revenue of $5 million or more. 17% did not share their organizational revenue level.

The stats in this report paint an interesting picture of how nonprofits are approaching their digital marketing investment. You can download the full report from Charity Dynamics here.

How Nonprofits Are Approaching Digital Marketing This Year

Here are a some key numbers that stuck out to us on how nonprofits are investing in digital marketing from the “Interactive Investment Benchmark Study”. Do these line up with how your nonprofit approaches its digital investment?

Budget Expectations

55% of nonprofits expect their digital marketing budgets to grow this year

42% expect their budgets to stay the same as the previous year

3% expect their digital marketing budgets to decrease this year

Priority Areas

51% Online Donations

47% Constituent Engagement/Social Media

42% Data Management

20% Mobile

18% Business Intelligence/Analytics

Desired Additions

34% Website Updates

24% CRM/Donor Database

12% Online Fundraising Tool

8% Email Marketing Tool

8% Social Media Management Tool

3% Mobile App

Digital Decision Makers

37% Executive Director or CEO

22% Fundraising

14% Marketing

9% IT/Operations

5% Board Member


2% Consultant

Top Takeaways on Nonprofit Digital Marketing Moving Forward

From the findings presented in this report, it’s clear that:

Digital marketing remains a key priority for nonprofits. 97% of respondents say they will be keeping their digital marketing budget the same or increasing it this year. Among the nonprofits who will be increasing their budgets, 26% will see an increase of 11% or more.

Increasing online donations is a top nonprofit goal. 51% state donations are their #1 digital marketing goal—and additions like database updates and online fundraising tools are most likely tied to accomplishing this goal as well. It’s a smart goal. Nonprofits have seen double-digit growth in online donations on annual basis (even during recession years) as more and more donors are turning to the Web to make contributions.

Some of the areas mentioned in this report that we believe should be top areas of digital marketing concentration moving forward:

1. Website Optimization

Donors regularly “investigate” nonprofits on the Web before making donations (even through other channels). Make sure your website accurately represents your organization, and specifically shows donors how their contributions will make a difference.

2. Data Analytics

The collection, management and analysis of donor and potential donor data enables nonprofits to better reach people most apt to respond to a particular message or cause. Individuals expect relevance and personalization these days. Marketing intelligence will help you deliver it.

3. Online Fundraising

Fundraising on the Web today entails more than just a donation page on your website (though that’s important too). Nonprofits need to have a way to engage and activate people on the Web. The immediacy of the Internet paired with the power of peer-to-peer fundraising makes for an incredibly effective way to reach donors (existing and new).

4. Mobile Experience

The fact that people are accessing the Internet on smartphones and tablets as much (if not more) than PCs cannot be ignored. It’s surprising that the number of nonprofits interested in developing a mobile app in this report was so low (3%), and mobile ranked fourth as a digital priority area (20%)—though it’s also noted in the report that 29% of respondents from large nonprofits said mobile was a high priority. Mobile should definitely be a top digital priority.

As the online space becomes more crowded with nonprofits looking to engage and activate donors, nonprofits need to be progressive and innovative with their digital marketing efforts to stand out from the pack. Take action today or risk falling behind tomorrow.

Need assistance with your nonprofit digital marketing efforts? eleventy can lend you a hand. Contact eleventy VP of strategy and development Angie Moore today to start the conversation.