Digital Marketing Tactics to Combat a Looming Recession and Declining Donations
With inflation rates hitting new highs and talk of a recession growing louder, nonprofits are faced with the sobering reality that donation volumes will slow down considerably. On the flip side, recessions allow organizations to invest in their infrastructure. While economic health can be unpredictable, there are tactics you can employ to help ensure your organization operates efficiently and effectively through uncertainty.
These strategies are web-based solutions that require a rigorous analysis of available resources, donor engagement touch points, and the reach of your owned and operated channels. Understanding in-kind or pro-bono resources available for nonprofits, such as Google for Nonprofits, is critical to maximizing your web presence on a tight budget, as is co-marketing through established partnerships. One of the goals is to maximize links back to your site from established organizations, thought leaders and institutions that rank higher in the search engine. The more that recognized establishments link to your nonprofit, the higher your ranking will be.
Here are three strategies to boost digital marketing efforts in an economic downturn when donation volumes are slowing down.
1. Reassess and Invest in Search Engine Optimization
Now is a great time to audit your content and analyze traffic sources. Not only is website content helpful for people to better understand who you are, but it's also crucial for search engines to understand you. The more context you give both parties, the more likely your website will appear in search engine results and the more likely you’ll earn that click.
How can you generate more content — whether it is via blogs, evergreen content, testimonials or case studies from partnering organizations or direct recipients? More mentions, more consistency and more co-marketing mean maximizing your search engine optimization (SEO).
Who do you work or partner with that can link to your site? Consider board members, donation recipients and government or educational institutions in your network. The more quality sites that point to yours, the more relevant your site is and more likely to be shown in search results.
How can you leverage social media channels? In your partner outreach, see if they'd be willing to share your site on social media, join your newsletter, give you a testimonial, etc. The goal is to create as many contact points back to your site from relevant sources.
What grade would you give the user experience on your site? Complete a user experience evaluation of your site to confirm it is easy to navigate, the call to action is clear and it loads quickly. Look at the site analytics to see how users spend time on the site, what they engage with and how quickly they leave.
2. Sign up for the Google Ad Grant
Google for Nonprofits is a free program that includes a $10,000 monthly credit to Google Ads for qualifying 501(c)3 organizations. Attract donors, raise awareness for your organization and recruit volunteers with text-based ads by taking advantage of this in-kind advertising.
3. Ramp Up Your Newsletter Efforts
Newsletters can be an essential tactic for driving donations and purchases. Events, volunteer opportunities and new blog content are great ways to engage your community. Your volunteer list will grow even if you receive fewer donations during a recession. Brainstorm what costs you can offset with human power.
Amid uncertainty, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Plan to pivot, plan to experiment and plan to grow over the coming months.
Courtney Rambo is the co-founder and director of Intellitonic, a digital marketing agency.