By Kelly Callahan-Poe and Karen Beck

Nonprofits have faced a variety of challenges during the pandemic. As the workplace shifted virtually and the “Great Resignation” shuffled team members across the country or out the door, many nonprofit marketing teams are doing much more with less. The pandemic permanently shifted collaboration and communication, both at work and among consumers, and we’ve all had to become more technology-centric. 

In January 2022, Williams Whittle, in conjunction with research firm KB Insights, conducted its second annual national survey of U.S. adults to track donor behavior to guide nonprofits in their marketing efforts. The previous donor survey was conducted in November 2020. 

Based on these studies, there are several things that marketers can do to maximize impact:

1. Leverage the right media mix.

  • Nonprofits that have navigated the pandemic successfully have relied heavily on digital marketing and fundraising, making digital engagement essential for donation acquisition and retention.
  • For donations, people say they are most likely to respond to email solicitations, followed by direct mail, then social media. The percentage of survey respondents who said they preferred email for making donations increased this year, as did social media, TV spots, phone calls, and Google search, but radio declined.
  • The top three preferred communication methods to stay in touch with donors remained the same – email, direct mail and social media. It is not surprising, however, that preferences for email and text messages increased in 2022, while those for newsletters, in-person meetings, and magazines declined.

2. Offer multi-channel giving options.

  • A comprehensive fundraising strategy should include multiple touchpoints and fundraising channels, both online and offline. 
  • About half said they would prefer giving online, followed by in-person and mailed approaches. While preferred by fewer respondents, donating with purchases, workplace giving and planned giving were also viable avenues for attracting new donations.

3. Leverage PSAs.

  • Public service announcements are often the first introduction to potential donors of a charity. Given their broad reach and cost-effectiveness, PSAs provide nonprofits with an opportunity to showcase the personal stories of how their services benefit their constituents.
  • 29% of donors have given as a result of a public service announcement.

4. Solidify social media presence.

  • To stay in front of current and potential donors, nonprofits should make sure their social media presence is on platforms that reach their target audience best.
  • The percentage of U.S. adults who regularly use social media has increased from 81% to 92% in the last year, due in part to changing communication styles since the pandemic began. Today, 38% of U.S. adults who plan to donate in 2022 say they already follow nonprofits on social media, which is a 2% increase from 2020. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram continue to be the most utilized social media platforms. Since 2020, YouTube usage increased 50%, Facebook increased 8%, and Instagram increased by 5%.

5. Integrate messaging.

  • Integrated messaging in paid, owned, and earned media outlets is the key to a successful nonprofit awareness or donor outreach campaign.

Click here to download the full report of The Top 10 Nonprofit Insights. For more on “Ideas that Generate Change for Nonprofits”, visit our website:  You may also view our 10 Marketing Trends for Nonprofits to learn the biggest trends we are seeing among our client base. 

Williams Whittle is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.


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