The Internet is the greatest communication tool in the history of human society which makes it a perfect way to spread the word about your cause. Assuming, that is, you know what you’re doing.

So, you want to take your charity online?

That’s great – the Internet, used properly, is a perfect vessel for getting people onboard to a good cause. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy tool to use, mind you. Just like with print media and television, there are certain things you’ll need to know to maximize your effectiveness.

And like any major marketing leap, there are certain things you’ll need to consider before you commit.

1. Where Are Your Donors?

There’s no point creating a page on Kickstarter if your target audience hasn’t even heard of the platform, and it’s no use being on Twitter if your target demographic exclusively uses Facebook. An understanding of your donors is at the core of effective digital marketing – and that includes possessing knowledge of the platforms they use most frequently.

And even if you know where your donors are, you still need to reach them. You need to coordinate your approach between your different teams and departments. The most critical thing here is that you don’t treat digital marketing as a silo separate from the rest of your organization – instead, look at it as an integral part of an organization-wide process.

Speaking of reaching your donors…

2. How Will You Handle Outreach?

Equally important as the platform you want to focus on is how you want to spread the word and raise funds for your cause.

Is a video marketing campaign on YouTube the right choice for your nonprofit? Do you want to run a series of competitions and contests on Instagram? Do you want to host live events and stream them to the web to increase donations? Do you want to shell out for more traditional web advertisements, or dip your toes into the ocean of content marketing?

More importantly, how will you handle donations given through the web? What sort of landing page will you create, and where will it be based? How will you manage the costs of website maintenance and platform fees?

3.  Why Do You Want To Go Digital?

I’ve left the most important question for last – what do you hope to accomplish by marketing your nonprofit on the web? Do you have a clear goal in mind, or a clear market segment you’re looking to serve? Or is this just something you’re doing because it seems like you should – because everyone is doing it?

If you answered yes to that last question, I’d advise taking a step back and thinking things over before you jump online. Your reasons for embracing digital marketing should be your own, and no one else’s. As the old adage goes, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?”

Give Smarter

In the right hands, the Internet is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to achieve great results for a good cause. That doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for everyone. Unless your nonprofit has concrete goals, a clear idea of how to manage outreach, and a strategy to reach your primary audience, the Internet isn’t something you necessarily need.


Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.


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