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How to Use Inbound Marketing at Your Non-profit

How to Use Inbound Marketing at Your Non-profit

Digital Marketing

Since most people are already online most of the time, including your non-profit’s existing and potential audiences, inbound marketing was developed as a technique that uses online services such as web content, social media, branding, etc. to attract customers and supporters, rather than depending on more traditional marketing techniques.

Old-school outbound marketing (think direct mail, TV commercials and/or print ads) reach out towards prospective customers with a product pitch, leaving you waiting for a response. Inbound marketing is about creating awareness and drawing people in more organically, through a variety of online sources, targeting their already-existing interests. Since the early 2000s, it has become an increasingly powerful marketing device and can be especially effective in attracting people to non-profit organizations.

The concept of inbound marketing can seem a little abstract, so here’s more information and some straightforward tips on how it can be used to help your non-profit.


The first objective of inbound marketing is to devise content that will ATTRACT people to your non-profit, the goal being to turn casual site viewers into engaged visitors. How is this done? Research will direct you to which keywords are most likely to generate a response from your target audience. Integrate them in your website and blog content, especially on social media and in hashtags. This increases the likelihood that your organization will turn up high on search engines and draw in new viewers.

When Be the Match, part of the National Marrow Donor Program, was looking to expand its donor base of young men, it launched an online campaign called Be the Guy, designed to make young men feel empowered. The appeal was launched on popular outlets like Facebook and Instagram, but it also appeared on Twitch and Reddit, platforms known to be especially popular among males. The strategy worked: the campaign was a huge success.


Once visitors are aware of your non-profit, it’s time to CONNECT and get them to be active supporters of your cause. This is sometimes also referred to as “converting,” because the status of the recipient changes from visitor to supporter. The goal of this step is to get the person’s contact information; this can be done via a form on your website, a link from a blog or social media post, sign-up opportunities at organization events, etc. This is essential, since you have to be able to get in touch with those who’ve expressed interest to get them further drawn into your non-profit.

Always include a call to action (CTA) in your connection content. This can turn the exchange of contact information into a relevant and helpful act, whether it’s a request for donations, volunteers or registration for an event. Make sure all your CTAs link to a form so that your visitors will get their data to you while your message is still fresh in their minds.

The website for the children’s charity UNICEF, for example, has a “donate” button right at the top of its homepage–and another one at the bottom, along with several other CTA prompts that link to registration and volunteer forms.


Now that you have supporters’ contact information, it’s time to ENGAGE them with compelling content that motivates them to become enthusiastic participants, primarily through donations, but also through other levels of interaction. Use social media to construct a two-way conversation with your followers, making them feel like a more integral part of your non-profit and its mission.

The data you’ve gathered about people can be used to send relevant information to different segments of your contact list. Your website reaches out to your entire audience, but you can send emails and social media posts to targeted subgroups. If, let’s say, a percentage of your mailing list is especially interested in environmental issues, send them a message related to your most recent efforts in that area. And don’t forget to use impactful images, which make an immediate and lasting impression.

Oxfam works in 90+ countries to help alleviate global poverty. It's actually a group of 19 organizations that operate in nearly two dozen countries. Each location has its own website which focuses on both worldwide issues and those closer to home, allowing them to engage their local supporters more directly.


You’ve done the hardest work, attracting people to your cause and turning them into active contributors. Now it’s time to INSPIRE your donors, turn them into advocates and keep them in close contact. The best way to sustain this relationship moving forward is through regular communication.

Keep the conversation going by staying in touch through emails, announcements and social media. Send birthday and holiday greetings. Check out the posts of some of your followers to see what resonates with them and reflect that in subsequent messaging. Let your loyal base know the impact their donations have made in the field. Many organizations feature photos of volunteer events on their websites to remind supporters of their close connection to their missions.

Effective inbound marketing brings more donors to your non-profit, which has both short and long-term benefits. Most immediately, you’ll increase your subscriber base and have a greater number of people to reach out to about your cause. Over time, some of them will become more deeply involved and become valued team members making important contributions, both in terms of donations and personal involvement. With successful inbound marketing, their affiliation with your organization grows closer.

Need help getting started on developing an inbound marketing strategy for your non-profit?
Reach out to us. We’re passionate about working with community-focused organizations.

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