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010 – 9 Non-Profit Digital Marketing Trends To Watch For In 2021

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In this episode David talks about the top 9 non-profit and charity digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2021.

A panel ranked our podcast #23 in Canadian marketing podcasts to follow in 2021!! YAY!

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Some quick highlights:

  • David talks about how Wow Digital gives back to non-profits, charities, and the world
  • Wow Digital will be planting 100 trees for every project worked on in 2021 through One Tree Planted!
  • The growth of non-profits
  • Why non-profits need to think like businesses
  • Social media trends
  • Embracing new technologies
  • Artificial intelligence and bots for donor engagement
  • The transfer of wealth
  • Trust and accountability

Episode Transcription

The past year has been exciting for the non-profit marketing space and some of these trends are ones that I expect to continue in the year ahead. Non-profits should keep a keen eye on this space and expect change.

Before I jump in to this episode, I super excited and wanted to mention that I’m proud to have been ranked in the top 30 Canadian marketing podcasts to follow in 2021. In fact, I’m #23, and that’s only after 9 episodes. That’s just amazing! So thank you for listening, following, and connecting with me.

I love giving back to the community, it’s one of the founding principles of my agency Wow Digital, where we are laser focused on Canadian non-profits and charities. We have a number of initiatives for giving back to our clients and the world.

One such initiative, is that for every project we work on this year, we will be planting 100 trees through One Tree Planted.

Okay, enough about me, now back to why you’re here.

Non-profit trends are constantly evolving. It can be hard to stay on top of all the latest changes. But it’s important for any non-profit marketer to be aware of what is happening in the field, so they can react to it in a timely manner.

In this episode, I’m going to be talking about trends to watch for this year and next.

Non-profit trends

There are many non-profit marketers and even the traditional marketing agencies focused on the NPO sector. So, what do you need to be aware of in terms of trends? Here are some of the most important that I’ve identified based on what I’ve seen happening in the industry, so far, this year.

1. Technology Trends: Smartphones

Social media is constantly changing the way that we communicate, and this is especially true for non-profit organizations. As phones have become more affordable, their use has increased to increase engagement with supporters and donors.

Non-profits are turning to social media to stay relevant in this digital world. With a smartphone, supporters and donors can easily engage with the organization and donate without ever leaving the comfort of their home.

How will your non-profit stay relevant in the social media world? Keep up with these changes by adopting a smart phone app that will help you to connect and engage with supporters and donors.

As the world of social media continues to change, many non-profits are adopting or will be adopting smart phones as a way to increase engagement with supporters and donors.

The internet has enabled non-profits to connect with individuals who might not otherwise become donors. In some cases, new technology can allow non-profits to reach a wider audience, and provide an easier way for potential donors to learn about their causes.

Some leading technology tools for non-profits include: Knowledge Management Technology (KM Technology) Live Video and Corporate Giving. Trends in these are that donors expect non-profits to provide a fun, social experience that lets donors engage with those who are running the non-profit.

In some cases, some of the biggest names in business are seeking to partner with non-profits. You might be aware of Bank of America‘s sponsorship of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, the goal of which is to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

2. The growth of non-profits

Despite the negative connotation most people associate with non-profits due to some recent events, such as the WE charity scandal, a recent Deloitte report shows the opposite — the global non-profit market grew approximately 5.2% over the past 5-years, representing a market size of $2.6 trillion. Those numbers are only expected to continue growing and account for 14% of the global economy.

In other words, it’s a sizable market and one that non-profits and the industries they support should not be overlooked. Overall, consumers who choose to give to a charity are looking for a specific experience, according to the report, which isn’t surprising. Donors to non-profits are looking for specific interactions that lead to positive results, like financial support, a service such as veterinary care or support for an animal shelter.

61% of consumers surveyed said they donate to or volunteer with a non-profit, the highest level ever, according to a recent Nonprofit Accountability Survey (NAIS). In addition, 77% of all consumers report giving money to a cause. This increased support is just one of the many signs that support of non-profits is increasing.

According to the 2018 State of Nonprofit Management and Leadership report from the Nonprofit Association, the total number of non-profit organizations grew by 24% between 2008 and 2017. With the growth of social media and digital marketing platforms, many non-profits are making strides in developing their own websites, social media pages, fundraising platforms, and more, all on their own.

3. Non-profits need to think like businesses

In today’s rapidly changing business world, non-profits need to think like businesses. While many non-profits still think they need to make all of their decisions independently, this is no longer the case. They need to think about how their decision affects the bottom line, how many people are affected, and the consequences of every decision. Businesses are no different, and non-profits need to think like them if they want to survive.

Non-profits need to give consumers a reason to buy from them.

Consumers today are no longer blindly buying something because they want it, they’re buying it because they need it. And if there’s no reason to buy something, there’s no reason to even look at the business. So tell your story, and connect with your potential donors and volunteers at an emotional level.

4. Social media trends

With social media at an all-time high and political instability at an all-time low, many will turn to their social media feeds for news and support when they need it most. If you run a non-profit organization, a good way to reach out to the public and keep your customers and supporters up to date is to post frequently and regularly.

Organizations that do not want to become more on the edge of Facebook trending can instead post status updates regularly and encourage people to comment. The more people engage, the more relevant your posts will become to your audience. So, post about your events, raise awareness for causes you care about, and encourage your followers to support them.

5. Embracing new technologies

Donor Driven Innovation When the digital revolution hit the non-profit world, non-profits weren’t prepared. With the push for greater transparency and automation, the number of new non-profit organizations are rising at an alarming rate. This means that it’s important for non-profits to understand the value that new technologies can bring to their cause. This is especially true for donor-driven organizations that are on the cutting edge of fundraising.

Non-profits that recognize the need to better communicate with their donor base should consider adopting modern communication technologies like text messaging and content management platforms (CMPs). In addition, non-profits should begin using secure email and are more likely to capture donor information with the right technologies.

6. Artificial intelligence and bots for donor engagement

Artificial intelligence (AI) and bots will become increasingly important in donor engagement. Today, many non-profits rely on marketing automation systems and content management systems for their donor engagement activities. But marketing automation systems can’t yet leverage bots for the fundamental process of direct mail fundraising. The technology is not quite there, but bots will likely be used to help automate many of the tedious administrative processes for such systems.

By the end of 2021, we will begin to see more organizations using chatbots in direct mail fundraising campaigns. The capabilities of chatbots will continue to grow over the next couple of years. We should see the capabilities of chatbots and AI in marketing improve over time as the AI and process mapping continues to improve.

7. The transfer of wealth

The transfer of wealth from estates and wills to charities has reached the $1 trillion mark. One of the more interesting ways this is happening is through donations in trusts, often set up by trusted family members and friends.

Another way that the wealth is transferred is through gifts to charitable foundations, and by being given to specific charities that the donor trusts have selected.

Wealthy donors are increasingly giving large grants directly to charities. In addition, foundations are being set up with larger donations as the focus. This is changing the dynamics of what non-profits need to do, and the methods of raising funds for their causes.

8. Trust and accountability

It’s true that there are some non-profits that have done a fantastic job of building a strong foundation on which they can build. However, it’s also true that there are many organizations that are not. Non-profit organizations can become stuck in their current structures and are not aware of the larger opportunities that lie before them.

Millennials are driving this change in the non-profit industry. A large percentage of millennials grew up in non-profit organizations, and know how important it is to volunteer and give back.

They are also very open to new ideas and are making an effort to learn about these ideas so they can make a difference. This is great news for any non-profit looking to catch the attention of millennials.

9. What you need to know

Now that people are more aware of the intersection of non-profits and technology, there is an increased number of opportunities for people in emerging markets and the developing world to leverage technology and social media to promote their cause.

In 2021, expect to see:

  • Businesses offering to “brand” non-profits
  • Opportunities to fundraise via crowdsourcing platforms
  • Entrepreneurs selling “crowdfunded” technology to non-profits
  • Platforms for easily purchasing software and hosting in emerging markets
  • Growing amounts of fundraising on platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe

Conclusion

Your mission needs to reflect and serve as the core of the organization. Just as a resume needs to have strong formatting, your mission statement should provide the ultimate leadership blueprint for your non-profit.

Non-profits need to be more than just a product. Whether it’s a car, sports team or school, you should be more than just a vehicle to make money. Give yourself a purpose so the community understands who you are and what you do.

You should give back to your community in a variety of ways. As companies like Patagonia and Warby Parker can attest, being environmentally friendly can help you attract a more loyal audience.

Ask yourself if your donors know your mission and mission statement. To be a successful non-profit or charity, this should be clear.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the charitable marketing industry is undergoing a period of transition. While some feel the decline in direct mail donations is an existential threat to the industry, others feel that it is simply an evolutionary step. Either way, we’re living in an interesting time when it comes to non-profit marketing. There are positive changes happening all over the map.

The main takeaway is this: Change, no matter how big or small, is good for your cause. At Wow Digital Inc., we’re constantly working to make sense of the rapidly changing landscape, and share some of our learnings with you. I hope you found this podcast informative, as well as useful.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and I’m looking forward to having you listen to the next ones that we’ve got coming up. If you’ve enjoyed this episode please leave feedback on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast, I’d love to hear your feedback and it would also help others find the show.

Be sure to check out the show notes for the episode, head over to wowdigital.com, click on podcast, and search for this episode number and you’ll find all the links, details, and other information that has been discussed in this episode.

Are there any other topics that you would like to hear about? Just send an email to [email protected]. Thanks for listening to the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast!

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