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Understanding the Role of Technology in Nonprofit Marketing

Technology has revolutionized how nonprofits interact with their audiences. From creating marketing messages, to sending them, to monitoring their impact, technology can play a key role in nearly every aspect of your marketing campaigns. 

Having a strong understanding of how technology can improve your marketing can be especially useful for major campaigns, such as GivingTuesday, your annual gala, and capital campaigns. When you know what technology can do for your nonprofit, you can leverage it to its full capabilities and even introduce new technology-driven strategies into your marketing tactics. 

Whether your nonprofit has already developed a digital strategy or is just starting to explore what technology can do for your organization, this guide will provide insight into a few key ways technology can impact your nonprofit’s approach to marketing. 

Managing Donor Relationships 

Forging strong relationships with donors is essential for keeping your nonprofit funded. Technology enables you to track the details of each relationship, allowing you to maintain your connections with individual donors over the course of multiple years and providing even more value from each relationship. 

Leveraging your donor database and donor communications platform can help foster these donor relationships. Ensure your nonprofit has a powerful CRM (constituent relationship management) system that allows you to record data you collect on each donor and use it to improve your communications with them. 

Specifically, your CRM should allow you to:

Track Engagement History

  • Every time your nonprofit interacts with a supporter, make note of it in their profile. This can include event attendance, volunteering, responses to your emails, and even comments on social media. Then, use this information to reach out to donors about opportunities that are likely to interest them based on their past engagement activity. 

Identify Opportunities to Increase Value

  • The longer a donor has given to your nonprofit, the more they will feel a connection with your cause and consider increasing their support. You can use your CRM to monitor where each donor is in their donor journey. This information can be used to determine the best time to make an ask or reach out to encourage them to donate more. 

Keep Donor Information Secure

  • Donors may share sensitive information with your nonprofit over the course of their engagement, such as their contact and payment information. Sophisticated CRMs from trustworthy software providers are far more secure than basic spreadsheets and will keep your donors’ data safe. The developers of these platforms provide regular security updates to remove vulnerabilities and provide safeguards against new types of cyberattacks. 

Making sure your data is organized and accessible is a great way to use your collected donor data to its fullest potential. NPOInfo’s guide to donor data management recommends evaluating your CRM system to ensure it is equipped to handle the necessary volume of data. Keep track of how many donor records you can create and how many staff login accounts you can have. Additionally, determine where your platform can integrate with useful third-party tools, such as prospecting software. 

Streamlining and Optimizing Communication

How you communicate with donors will dictate your ability to strengthen relationships, reach new supporters, and spread awareness about your nonprofit’s cause. Marketing and communication should be one of your organization’s top priorities, and utilizing your technology to the fullest can help simplify many components of your outreach.

You can free up your staff’s time by using your technology to assist with: 

Professional Messaging Tools

  • When reaching out to supporters, ensure your communications look as professional as possible. This includes formatting your emails to feature images and clickable buttons. Use marketing software with email authoring tools to format engaging messages with your organization’s branding quickly. 

Segmentation and Personalization

  • Your supporters have different interests, so your messaging should be different too. You can account for these different interests and better tailor your marketing to each supporter through segmentation and personalization. Use your CRM to create various interest rating tags you can add to donor profiles, such as ones for a “new donor,” “recurring donor,” “volunteer,” or any other designations. Then, create emailing lists for each of these groups and only send them content that relates to their interests.

Automated Processes

  • Certain everyday tasks can be almost entirely accomplished by your software platforms. For example, you might set up an automatic thank you alert and a donation receipt message for online gifts. Then, after sending the message, your system can alert your team to follow up with a more thorough thank you letter for large gifts.
Nonprofit Marketing | Professional Messaging Tools | Interest Rating Examples | Automated Thank You Letters

Effective communication starts with the data stored in your nonprofit’s CRM. Invest in a CRM that has built-in marketing tools or can integrate with another marketing platform. CRMs with large developer communities will likely have a variety of marketing and communication apps and integrations for your nonprofit to explore. 

If your nonprofit wants to change CRMs or invest in a new marketing platform, consider what needs are driving the change and how your new system will meet those needs. Additionally, take your implementation and training timeline into account. Migrating data between CRMs and getting assistance from a developer to build out new features can take several months. 

While it is an investment, a more streamlined platform can significantly decrease your staff’s workload and improve communication with donors. 

Coordinating Campaigns

Fundraising campaigns can quickly become complex, especially when conducting outreach on multiple channels. Fortunately, technology can streamline your planning and organization process by providing tools, such as:

Scheduled Posts

  • If your organization is posting across multiple social media platforms, utilizing a tool for scheduled posts can be helpful. Create and format your posts, then use your system to determine when they will go live. Instead of posting at the exact moment you want something to go live, you can have it planned far in advance. 

Multi-Channel Communication Planning.

  • Use your marketing tools to organize what message will be delivered through which platform and when. This way you can create outreach campaigns where each message builds on the previous ones, pushing donors more deliberately to take action. For instance, you might first post about an event on social media and take note of supporters who interacted with it. Then, you might schedule a mailed invitation to be sent out to those supporters in the next few days.

Reporting and Analytics

  • You can determine whether an outreach campaign was successful by using your donor management and marketing tools’ reporting features. See what messages received the most engagement, which donors responded best to your marketing strategy, and stay on top of any other relevant metrics. 

Nonprofit Marketers, Keep this in Mind

If your nonprofit needs assistance leveraging your software to host a campaign, consider partnering with a consultant. There are a wide variety of nonprofit consulting services that specialize in nearly every aspect of nonprofit management. Assess your needs and determine whether your organization needs a marketing consultant, a technology consultant, or a consulting firm with expertise in both fields. 

Compile a list of potential consultants by using trusted online resources and seeking referrals from other nonprofits in your field. Then, consider the challenges your nonprofit is facing with campaign coordination and how a consultant could resolve them. This might be through offering marketing advice, providing insight into how to better leverage your technology, or training your team to improve their technical or communication skills. 

Technology is continually evolving, and it can be used to evolve your nonprofit’s marketing tactics as well. Take inventory of your current software to determine if it can support your strategy, and evaluate your goals to figure out if new technology can help you achieve them.


Written by Carl Diesing - Managing Director at DNL OmniMedia

Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with ongoing web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.

Carl Diesing - Managing Director at DNL OmniMedia
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