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Tips on Marketing for NGOs

In this article, we'll give you some tips on how to improve your marketing for an NGO. If you're an NGO, you should care about having visibility in the geographical area where you are present, as well as competing with other (perhaps bigger) NGOs and attracting more donors.

Have A CTA

You must have a call to action.

If you have a website, what action/actions do you want your visitors to take? Do you want them to donate, sign up to volunteer, help you with goods, help spread the message, learn more about the topics you present to them (to be better educated), etc.? Start with this goal - what do I want visitors to do on my website? It can be a single action (donate now!) or more.

The same is true for other means of communication. You should know what you want your audience.

Of course, this doesn't imply writing "Donate to us" on Facebook five times a day and sending a newsletter with a single subject line: "Donate to us today, as you donated last week." There should be primary and secondary goals, and you should use common sense when repeating a message. You don't want to overpromote your main message.

This being said, on your social media accounts, there should be a link in the About Us/Bio section of each social network where you state what you want your visitors to do (visit our website to donate, click here to read articles on our blog, subscribe to our newsletter here). Your main call to action should also be visible on your website.

Consider using a call-to-action in the signatures of your emails, flyers/posters, and newsletters you send. As said, don't be too aggressive with this, you want most of your visitors to come back to your website, don't exaggerate with this.

Be Where Your Audience Is Present

You should know from experience where you can find most of your audience and what media channels they use. Some visitors might like websites, others prefer to watch videos, some prefer to read info by email, and others are present on some social media networks but not others. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation, you'll need to determine where your audience is.

If you need help with this, tools like SparkToro can help you better determine where your audience likes to spend their time.

That being said, most NGOs should benefit from having at least a website, a blog, and a newsletter. Social networks depend very much on the audience, but websites/blogs/newsletters are almost 100% controlled by the NGO, which can be a big advantage. Knowing who is subscribed to the newsletter, and having a platform (website/blog) where you can post things and know it will be there years from now is good for the peace of mind.

Once you know/guess what social networks your audience uses, create an account there and post regularly.

As said, don't say 100%, "We did this, donate to us, we did that, give us money, we also did another thing, come help us." Consider having varied messages according to the interests of your audience.

Get Emails

This is an important aspect. We highly suggest having a newsletter service that allows you to see all the email addresses of your audience and valuing this database as highly important.

Emails are much more in your control than most social networks.

Make sure you use a platform where you can export, if needed, from time to time, the database of email subscribers so you are not captive to using a specific newsletter service and know exactly who subscribes to your newsletter. Additionally, not all newsletter services allow you to see the newsletter subscribers. 

Communicate Incentives

No matter how you communicate with your audience, think about what the donor gets for donating. Of course, we are not talking about reciprocating with an equal-value gift but with something emotional.

If you ask people to volunteer to build a house, and they come and work for hours (days, perhaps?), how do you thank them?

This is often overlooked, as NGOs tend to focus a lot of effort on getting a donation and much less effort on making the donors happy that they did something good.

How about you send a photo of the finished house to all those who helped build it? How about each year, on the day the house is delivered, you send a newsletter to all helpers (with an option to unsubscribe, of course), saying, "Look, family X has lived in this house for so-and-so years. Here's a photo with them in the house you helped build right from this day, all the family in front of the house."

This is an example, but the most important reason for which donors donate is likely to have a meaning: to make the world better. Unfortunately, for the personnel of NGOs, who live in a world where they meet very often with people who benefit from their actions, it often gets overlooked - "But of course family X is happy, we see them once a few months, and they are happy." But do the people who helped build the house know Family X is happy? We think there might be a disconnect between the result (the result of the work of the NGO and other entities), the NGO personnel, and the helpers/donors. As a marketing person, you'll need to connect the donors with the results of the actions of the NGO.

Virtual vs. Physical

When trying to communicate a message, make the request as tangible as possible. Text is fine, but consider using visual and audio means of communication—use photos, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and documents.

Don't post stock photos and computer-generated videos, use things that are as real as possible.

This might lead to more effective messages.

Anchoring Donation Suggestions

Let's say you have a donation page. You might be tempted to put four buttons there: Donate $5 / $10 / $15 / Specific amount.

Looking at these suggested donations, people will imagine, "Oh, so a lot of people donate $5, some $10, and very few donate the maximum $15".

Now imagine a scenario where the numbers are "Donate $10 / $50 / $200 / Specific amounts."

While in both cases, any visitor can select "Specific amounts," in this second scenario, the minimum suggested donation is higher. Also, the maximum donation sets a totally different anchoring price in the visitor's mind, making the $50 look reasonable.

We don't think there's a magic formula, but we suggest doing some tests and changing your website's minimum/maximum suggested donation prices.

The difference between manipulation and influence is mainly determined by intent. If you change prices to make more money for evil purposes, that might be manipulation. If you change the amounts you display to help make a better world, this might only be an influence.


There are countless examples of NGOs that only announce that events will take place. "Oh, we have an event/webinar/meeting one week from now. See you there, and don't forget to bring so-and-so." One week after the event, there was nothing about what happened there.

Not following up is one of the most common mistakes among NGOs.

If you don't have permission to shoot a video, write a summary of the event, including key discussions and some conclusions.

If you can't put online photos of some members of the audience (for example, children), blur faces, but make it clear that people attended your event.

We can't stress this enough - you should follow up pretty much any event.

Spotlight Donors

It's one thing to say, "We have 2,000 donors," and another to say, "We have 2,000 donors; here are 10 of them, with real photos and links to their LinkedIn profiles, some with small video interviews, with small stories telling how they helped."

It's one thing to say, "Brand Y is helping us do our mission," and another thing to say, "Here's a 300-word description about how Brand Y is helping us, what they do with us, how long we have been working together, here's a person from them giving us a small interview, here's a link to all of their online presence (site, social media, etc.), here's a public letter we wrote to them as a thank you, here are some photos with our audience thanking them".

It's a different perspective.

Donation Matching

How much would you invest in something that improves your efficiency by 100%?

NGOs can motivate donors by saying, "If you donate $5 to us, we'll match this 100% with the help of a big donor."

This kind of incentive can work miracles in getting more donations from people. They will not only feel good about helping, but they will feel 100% better for helping.

Be Present at Social Gatherings

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." - Beverly Sills

Attending events, being active, partnering with others, and meeting people is never easy. It takes time and dedication. Sometimes, you don't see an immediate result, and you might think, "How many people could have been helped during this time?"

Be present at social gatherings, nevertheless, but don't do networking if by networking you only understand, "We are this NGO, we do this, donate! Have I already asked you to donate? Donate!".

Do networking differently - "How can we help you?" and “How do our visions align?”

There are others you can help in the world than your NGO's direct beneficiaries.

Basic Stuff

FAQs—questions like "What percentage of my money was given each year to beneficiaries and what percentage to the expenses of the NGOs?" or "Who audits your work?" should be in the FAQs.

Of course, every NGO should have an annual report, which should be ready in January of the next year if possible.

An NGO should publish on its blog regularly. This can be the same content shared on social media and newsletters. In other words, if you work to create a newsletter, post it on your blog. The same goes for social media content.

Again, of course, as an NGO, you should be active on all of your social media accounts.

List current people helping the NGO. Show the number of newsletter subscribers, even if you only have a small number. Say how many people visit your website monthly (there are tools you can integrate with Google Analytics that allow you to display this publicly). Mention any fines you've gotten. As absurd as some might appear, they might help you be more trustworthy.

Remember that you benefit from free things as an NGO. Google "top software for NGOs for free," "freebies for NGOs," or "funding for NGOs in field X," etc.

You should have a clear procedure for communicating online, including what gets said and not, how to reply to comments, what should happen in case of a crisis, who talks to the press, etc.

When writing, tell a story. Don't just say, "We helped 100 people in the last year." Say, "Here are 5 stories of people we helped last year."


In conclusion, effective marketing for NGOs requires a strategic approach tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Don't forget that a well-rounded marketing strategy can increase your ability to achieve your mission and make a meaningful difference in the community.

If you want a specific audit of your marketing for your NGO, contact us for a Search Visibility optimization offer.


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