Nonprofit Digital Engagement Strategies

A number of local nonprofits who find themselves frustrated because they seem to keep going to the same ten local families in the area or that their donors are getting much older and willing to do less.

One of the local charities we work with is frustrated that they spend so much on galas and do not have much to show for it. They can only do so much more for so much less if they knew how to be more efficient about their approach.

Making the Case for Mobile Advertisements

Many are not aware that there are resources available to them that we regularly utilize in political fundraising. Mobile advertising has quickly emerged as the go-to tool for fundraising as well as voter engagement. With a couple clicks on your mobile or tablet devices, you can reach and engage with an audience who are receptive to your fundraising pleas.

When we advise our partners, we often refer to these key statistics that make a compelling case for mobile advertising:

  • Mobile App usage has surpassed PC internet usage.
  • Click through rates (CTR) are highest on mobile devices.
  • Adults spend 162 minutes per day on their mobile devices.

The reality is that there are less and less eyeballs and ears paying attention to TV commercials or radio ads anymore. We have the technology to fast forward the commercials on our DVRs or change the channel on our radios whenever an ad comes on the air. Thanks to Netflix and Pandora, there are fewer people who do not even watch live TV or listen to the radio anymore.

What is Mobile Audience Targeting?

We view digital advertisements daily when we are checking the weather, sports score or spending time on our favorite social media sites. Here are a few samples of display content that was recently captured on an iPhone while visiting such apps as The Weather Channel, ESPN, and Pandora.


The idea of a digital ad is to engage someone with your message. Mobile Audience Targeting is much more. An  audience targeting campaign is designed to engage the exact person you want, not just a random scattering of ads hoping the right person sees your message.

Who Do We Engage With?

Before we can dive into some strategies for engagement, we first need to put together a hypothetical audience segment so we can identify who will be most receptive to our campaign. There are a lot of sources to obtain information on consumers who have ever donated to a cause or a political candidate. Here would be a sample audience we would generate a count for:

  • Adult Male/Female
  • Ethnicity
  • Address
  • Education Level
  • Occupation
  • Net worth

Once identifying some key demographics, we would dive deeper and cross-match these records against charitable donations. Here is a sample of some of the donors that we can target:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Arts/Culture
  • Children’s
  • Environmental
  • Wildlife
  • Health Charity
  • International Aid
  • Politically Conservative
  • Politically Liberal
  • Religious
  • Veterans

There are thousands of different audience segments we could target and let’s just say we can pretty much target any consumer who has ever been online at some point.

A Plan in Motion

After we have identified our audience, we work with our partners to design a compelling campaign. We include visually appealing banner ads that can be viewed cleanly in different media platforms. Once we have a general idea of what we are going to say to our audience, we come up with a variation of messaging themes so we can test and tune to maximize effectiveness.

It is important to have a rigorous test and learn approach to messaging before using it on a broad scale. We use a variety of experimental design testing strategies, such as exposure to test and control, fractional factorial, and other techniques selected in partnership with our client. Then, together we can assess what message/creative works best with what audience, how well the advertising covers the target audience, and gauge the expected incremental lift in performance.

Then, goals are identified for the fundraising campaign and we can then fill out the rest of the marketing strategy. This would include launching a themed website, design and produce any mailers, launch social media platforms, set up call banks, etc.   Of course the final piece of the plan is to determine how big our budget is. As usual, there is never nearly enough to go around so we prioritize and adjust our plan accordingly.

Once all the pieces are in place, we do a small test to solicit feedback from our organization members. This is an informal process where we ask them and their friends and families to give us feedback prior to launch.

Does the campaign tell a compelling story?

Would they be captivated enough to give a donation?

We ask a lot of questions, sometimes we get a focus group together which has been very helpful before we burn through our budget only to later determine we missed our mark.

From there we launch the mobile fundraising campaign and we monitor results weekly until the campaign has completed. During the campaign, we are keeping an eye on interactions, looking for trends, studying the data and drawing conclusions. We can make adjustments to our campaigns on the fly so we can stretch out our budget.

Mobile is Here to Stay!

A recent survey conducted by eMarketer, shows that when compared to other forms of media consumption like TV, Radio, Print, and desktop online consumption, media consumption is significantly on the rise for mobile devices. Audience targeted mobile advertisements to specific audience members is the most significant advancement in the past five years.

We can win these battles with a data-driven marketing approach. Once you can identify an audience, launching a successful mobile advertising campaign is as simple as a few clicks. Then all you have to do is watch your donations come on in. You will be asking yourself, how come we didn’t adopt a mobile advertising approach before?

We would love to talk to you about digital engagement strategies and audience targeting on mobile devices.

What do you think about this strategy? What would you add? What did I get wrong, feedback is always welcome. Do you know someone who can benefit from talking to me? If so, please feel free to leave us a comment below.


I have been in marketing and technology for more than 20 years and have worked in many industries and worn many hats. From independent consultant, to cooking school, to establishing technology centers, it was a Spirit led adventure that landed me in the president & owner’s seat at Element 502.

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