Top digital marketing tips for small charities


Digital is an unbelievably important area for charities and nonprofits – no matter what your size. Almost everyone experiences your organisation online first and foremost, from funders and fundraisers, to supporters, MPs and journalists says Matt Collins. 

Here are top tips to ensure that your digital marketing makes sense to all audiences, and that all your channels – from your website to social media- are in sync with each other.

Your website should be simple

Your website is the first port of call for people looking for advice or information about your cause.

While a super-sleek professional web design is easier on the eye, you can get away without one (and the giant price tag) if you have:

  • simple navigation
  • well written, succinct pages that tell readers what they want to know – quickly
  • not too much ‘clutter’, like ads, scrolling carousels, Twitter feeds, etc.

Each page should be no more than 400 words long if possible and break pages up with useful headings and key phrases in bold and links. Like it or not, many people will skim read your content, so keep it short and sweet so they get the gist of each page quickly.

Use social media to show the people behind the charity

Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are inherently social spaces. People go there to consume content that they find interesting, inspiring or provocative so this is where you want to be in order to start (and join in) conversations.

Instead of trying to create the next #NoMakeupSelfie or #IceBucketChallenge, why not focus on the great everyday work that your charity does?

You can do this by sharing photos of your beneficiaries or service users, publish quotes from your volunteers about what they get out of volunteering for you, and no matter how obvious they seem to you, link to all the advice pages you have on your website.

Images stand out on social so use a free image editor like Canva to overlay inspiring quotes on photos (e.g. “I love volunteering for Diabetes UK at their events, it makes me feel like I’m giving something back” overlaid on a photo of the volunteer who said it). These images are hugely engaging, usually attracting tonnes of likes, comments and retweets.

Email your supporters

Email is an action taking channel, way more than social media is. The number of people using email is still far greater than those using social media so it’s not a channel to ignore.

Our inboxes are like our private online spaces these days, so if you have your supporters’ email address, you should feel super-privileged to be given access to this space. Use it wisely.

Sign up to one of the many Email Service Providers like Mailchimp, Dotmailer or Constant Contact, embed an email sign up form on your website and try to send an email to the list at least every two weeks or so.

Tell your subscribers about your upcoming events, your work and your campaigns. Set out your vision for a better world and tell them how they can get involved. And don’t forget a nice big call to action, like this example below from Macmillan.

Macmillan email

Make sure your website works on mobile

Take a look around you on the next train you get on and count how many people are consuming information on their smartphones and tablets. I guarantee it will be most of them, which means a mobile presence is vital for your charity. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it’s a necessity.

Your website should be readable on a mobile without having to pinch and zoom. Ideally, have a responsive website that works across all devices, built by a nice friendly agency. If you can’t afford that, try lower cost options like Duda, Joosee or Zoho.

Install and analyse Google Analytics

I’ll go ahead and assume you already have a website. And if you do, it’s easy to find out how people are finding your website from using Google Analytics.

Get the agency or whoever did your website to install Google Analytics (they’ll know how), then take a look at a couple of great standard reports – Acquisition / Overview, which will show you where all your traffic is coming from and the percentage who immediately leave again (bounce rate).

If you’re short of time, just look at the top two traffic sources and put as much effort as possible into getting more people via these channels.

Next, go to the Behaviours / Overview report, which will tell you the top 10 most visited pages on your website. Usually the top 10 pages get more views than all your other web pages put together, so make sure you’re making those pages nice and short, with good calls to action on each.

So there you have it – the foundations of a digital marketing strategy for those short of time and resource.

Some elements will still take time to hone your skills, particularly writing emails and creating good social media content. Others can happen in the background while you deliver your organisation’s important work.

Download our free guide to fundraising with social media.

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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap