Nonprofit Marketing Trends for 2023

The world of marketing, particularly digital marketing, is always changing. As you build the budget and promotional strategy for your nonprofit organization, you need to plan as much as you can.

That’s easier said than done, especially in an environment as volatile as this. As with so many other industries, COVID-19 has turned the nonprofit sector on its head. That adds to the already rapid change of pace in online marketing to make predicting this coming year more challenging and complex than ever.

The Top 10 Nonprofit Marketing Trends for 2023

We’ll give it our best anyway. Below are our top 10 nonprofit marketing trends and predictions for nonprofit marketing in 2023, all based on both external research and our own experience in the field. Let’s dive in.

Nonprofit Marketing Trends 2021

1. Nonprofit giving remains virtual.

Believe it or not, COVID-19 actually increased charitable giving in America in 2020 and into 2021. But that trendline has changed, and giving levels are back to where they were in 2019. It’s

  • Giving that was related to COVID-19 related causes (mostly in human services and healthcare) has largely faded away, while other causes are starting to see a lift again (like arts and climate).
  • Men and married couples have especially increased their share of donations, opening up new audience opportunities.
  • Millenials are giving more than ever, as donor audiences continue to get younger and younger (or nonprofits get smarter about marketing to younger audiences).
  • Travel and volunteering mean in-person activity has resumed, although digital engagement is still a vital part of your nonprofit marketing strategy.

2. Gen Z Enters the Nonprofit World

Charitable giving increases are also driven by a new generation entering the audience mix. Generation Z is growing up and ready to contribute to society.

Gen Z refers to the generation born in 1996 and later, meaning its oldest members will turn 25 next year. That, of course, is the prime age to become regular donors for charitable contributions to their organization of choice.

Another factor: most social scientists believe Gen Z to be the most socially conscious generation yet. If they believe in you, they’ll become loyal members and contributors.

Are you ready for this generation to make a tangible difference in your audience mix next year? You’ll need content that’s accessible to them, including short and succinct statements of value and worth. This is the time to make sure your channels and messages are prepared for Gen Z.

3. The Digital Advertising Mix is Changing

Speaking of Gen Z: with new audiences come new marketing channels that are important to leverage. Yes, your website remains your centerpiece online, and Facebook remains an important part of your mix. But what about going beyond those channels?

Some interesting social media channel trends to watch:

  • Instagram, which crossed 2 billion users in 2022, is the most widely used platform across all generations, spanning Gen Y to Boomers.
  • TikTok is now more popular among Gen Z consumers than Instagram.
  • LinkedIn has one of the highest-earning and most educated bases on social media — 51% college-educated with half of users earning more than $75,000 annually
  • 2022’s Facebook usage and activity are down to 33 minutes per day on average (versus 39 minutes daily in 2017).
  • According to the platform themselves, 7 in 10 Pinners say that Pinterest is their go-to place to find products or services they can trust.
  • SMS marketing, with 75% of consumers now saying they are comfortable receiving texts from brands.

Put it all together, and it’s clear that as we move into 2023, nonprofits will struggle with effective use of all of those channels (time to find that social media coordinator, fast!). It’s time for nonprofit marketing leaders to take a close look at their channel mix and make tweaks that continue optimizing their budgets and efforts for their environment.

4. Audience Segmentation is Key to High-Performing Email Appeals

You know about email as one of the core ways to communicate with your audience online. But email marketing for nonprofits is rapidly changing, and we predict that 2023 will be the tipping point for separating the good from the bad in the nonprofit world.

The driving factor: audience segmentation. Simply sending push emails to your entire database no longer yields results. After all, we now send more than 300 billion emails every day. Get this channel wrong, and you’ll get lost in the clutter and noise of the average email inbox.

Instead, relevance is the name of the game. Each email you send should be personally relevant to the people receiving it. That, in turn, is only possible through effective email list segmentation. And you can start that process now.

Take a look at your database, and begin to split up your audience into relatively homogenous groups. Current and frequent donors may be one group, but don’t be afraid to go deeper. Similar demographics (like the Gen Z note above) can further help you segment your lists to personalize your appeals.

5. Personalization Goes Next Level

Speaking of personalization, segmentation is only the first step. If you’re not personalizing your nonprofit marketing messages in 2023, you might be in serious trouble.

It’s not just about entering a first name in your email salutation, either. Three-quarters of consumers now feel frustrated if their website experience isn’t personalized to their needs. Meanwhile, 72% of them only engaged with messaging personalized to them.

How can you speak directly to your audience? The closer you get to that one-on-one conversation, the better. That’s especially the case given the other trends mentioned in this article — Gen Z expects personalization more than any other generation before them. The new virtual nature of marketing has taken some of that personal touch away.

So this is it. Invest in systems that allow you to build customized messaging for your audience, regardless of channels, like HubSpot (which offers a 40% discount to nonprofits!).  Utilize programmatic advertising and highly segmented lists to deliver creative campaigns that are targeted specifically to on-the-fence members of your target audience.

6. Videos for Your Website and Advertising Are Table Stakes

Similar to personalization, video has been a nonprofit marketing trend for a while, but we’re finally past the tipping point. If you don’t leverage video messages as part of your marketing mix, you’re missing the mark on fulfilling (and exceeding) audience expectations.

Here’s the thing: According to Cisco, video is expected to make up 82% of all online traffic next year. That’s probably why a clear majority of people want marketers to produce more video.

It’s time to keep up with and ride that trend. Nonprofit is an especially relevant sector for video, with its moving visuals being a perfect match for emotional and personal appeals. You can share behind-the-scenes video or showcase the impact of donations — all powerfully conveying your organization’s mission.

Don’t forget about the power of live streaming, either. More than 150 million people watch live stream videos every month. For inspiration, check out the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Extra Life campaign, which has generated millions of donations through the power of live streams.

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7. New Opportunities (and Expectations) for the Donation Process

How easy is your donation process for both new and existing members of your nonprofit? The answer to that question could change the way you’re thinking about the process. In the recent past, we’ve seen drastic improvements to the process, including (but not limited to):

  • Social media fundraisers that allow you to donate without ever leaving the platform.
  • One-click buy opportunities similar to Amazon’s button that leverage technology like PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • Giving using crypto and other non-traditional financial methods
  • Donations via text messaging, right from mobile devices.

Here’s the challenge — can you meet your donors on their favorite channel, and make donating take 30 seconds or less? It should be your goal to build a giving platform that doesn’t require someone to get up and find their credit card. That’s what your audience expects.

8. Re-Engaging Lapsed Donors Limits Audience Variability

It’s easy to forecast that your existing donors will matter more than anything else through the rest of this year and into 2023. As inflation and a pending recession may limit financial flexibility, donors will return to their “comfort zone” and give to the institutions they’re already familiar with, and whom they know can make a difference.

But what about those that have given to you in the past, but no longer do? Now is an opportunity to build a strategy for them. They may have been short on money, or have turned their attention to other nonprofit options. And yet, at some point in the past, they recognized you as worthy of their attention and money.

Re-engaging these lapsed donors is a crucial way to limit your variability and rely on audiences that have proven to bear fruit in the recent past. But you’ll need to have a few pieces in place to get there:

  • A database or platform that easily identifies your lapsed donors and segments them into a single audience group.
  • Analytics and reporting tools that allow you to find the unifying characteristics of this lapsed donor audience group.
  • A compelling message at the ready that prompts lapsed donors to start considering you again.
  • An easy check-out process that remembers their past information and moves them through the process at their preferred pace.

9. Growing Sustainers Builds Predictability

Lapsed donors will be among your most important audiences in 2023 – especially after you’ve built your donor base in 2020 and 2021. However, it still doesn’t quite reach the highest priority group — your sustainers, the reliable every-year givers who make up the foundation of your fundraising strategy.

As audiences narrow, this group should become your bread and butter. That means two things above all:

  • Keeping your current sustainers engaged to ensure they will remain loyal and close members of your core audience.
  • Spending significant effort to grow new sustainers from your occasional donors.

That last piece might be the most difficult. It means locking donors into multi-year commitments, turning them from one-time to regular contributors in the process. Only a succinct value proposition, coupled with consistent, engaging communications specifically to these audiences across channels, can make that possible and realistic.

When you get there, though, the benefits are significant. The more sustainers you can count on your side, the more predictable your revenue will become.

10. Quality Content Moves From Desirable to Essential

According to one survey, 92% of nonprofit marketers use at least some form of content marketing, while 65% of them have increased their content production pace.

In other words, nonprofit content is crowded. It’s no longer enough to simply create it; instead, high quality content is becoming essential.

We’ve started to see leading nonprofit content marketers leverage storytelling through some options mentioned above, including video and platforms like TikTok. The rise of LinkedIn and Instagram Stories has further aided in that capability.

But at its core, it’s even simpler than that: no matter what content you publish or what channels you leverage, quality comes first. Every piece of content should give your audience some insight about your cause and organization, or some takeaway that actually helps them solve their pain points. If you can accomplish that in 2023, you’re already winning.

“We need really good storytelling embedded into our organization. It’s not just Marketing’s job anymore, it’s everyone’s.”
– Justine Burke, VP of Marketing at Metropolitan Ministries

Moving Into 2023 With a Strong Marketing Strategy

It’s not quite Christmas in July, but it’s past time to start considering your 2023 nonprofit marketing strategy. Especially in the nonprofit sector, which can be slower-moving when it comes to decision-making and budgeting, a strong framework now can make all the difference as we get into the spring and summer.

Fortunately, you’re not on your own. In fact, the right marketing partner by your side can make all the difference in helping you build the right strategy to move into the next year.

Contact us to learn more about our expertise in digital marketing, particularly in the nonprofit sector. Let’s work together to build a digital marketing strategy designed to help your nonprofit organization thrive, despite and through the adversity of the current times.

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