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How to tailor your non-profit messaging across channels

To engage your audience and build relationships, your non-profit needs to send the right message to the right people in the right place at the right time. Focus on reaching out across a range of channels and customizing your messaging to suit each channel.

Most non-profits today already understand the importance of multi-channel marketing. Research shows multi-channel, integrated marketing campaigns are twice as effective as more siloed campaigns. And a majority of people (72%) say they’d rather connect with brands and businesses through multi-channel marketing than more traditional methods.

Essentially, multi-channel marketing meets your audience where they are. Your messaging components—which may come through email, social media, your website, blog posts, videos, ads, etc.—should all reinforce each other and help build recognition, awareness and loyalty towards your non-profit organization and your mission.

However, just as you’d craft different messages to target different segments of your audience, you should also tailor your messaging to each channel you’re using. A one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work here. Marketing channels are designed for specific people and purposes. A funny cat meme may delight people on Twitter, but would come across in bad form on LinkedIn.

Let’s look at a few of the more effective marketing channels and how your non-profit can make the most of your messaging for each.


Email is still one of the most popular channels for non-profits—and for good reason. A Campaign Monitor study showed 42% of donors prefer to hear from non-profits via email and 21% said emails inspire them to donate.

Even though emails have no character limits (as opposed to social media posts), you should keep your messaging brief here. Use teasers and quick touchpoints. Write a few sentences of compelling copy that encourage your recipient to click a link to read the full story, learn more, complete a survey or start the donation process. Other tips to make the most of your email communications include:

  • Tailor your emails and message content to specific audience segments.
  • Personalize your email to include the recipient’s name and add other custom elements. Personalized emails generate 6 times higher transaction rates than generic emails.
  • Use a compelling subject line. Try A/B testing different subject lines to compare results.
  • Focus on a single topic (perhaps a teaser of an inspirational client success story that lives on your website).
  • Always include a strong visual CTA—and only one! For best results, don’t give them too many options and make them decide where to click. Singular CTAs receive 371% more clicks than multiple CTAs. 

Social Media

Social media platforms differ greatly in terms of whom they attract, formats they’re based on and what they’re best used for. Your non-profit may not need to be everywhere. You also may not have the resources or capacity to stay active across too many different platforms. Analyze your audience to figure out what social media platforms they’re on most and prioritize your efforts there.

  • Create platform-specific content. Instagram and Snapchat are primarily photo-based social platforms; YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok focus on video content; and Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may use text, photos and video. If you know much of your audience uses Instagram, for example, you’ll have to find ways to start taking, collecting and posting great photos on a regular basis. Use social media to promote your varied content by linking to blog posts, campaign landing pages, impact videos, photo galleries and more.
  • Reach different audiences through different channels. Consider whom you want to market to and which platforms appeal to that audience. Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, for example, tend to draw in younger people and may provide fresh ways to generate enthusiasm for your cause or drive youth participation. LinkedIn serves business professionals, making it a good place to post about the advantages of corporate sponsorships or promoting your culture when you’re looking to hire.
  • Capitalize on each platform’s strengths. Look at how people use different platforms and how you can make that work for you. Twitter, for example, is fast-paced and succinct—an ideal venue for announcing key events and happenings, promoting action alerts, coordinating volunteers or providing campaign updates. Facebook is more focused on community, conversation and continuing engagement. It’s a good option for posting inspirational short videos or visual content that people would share or tag their friends and family.

SMS/Text Messaging

Text messaging has become increasingly popular with non-profit organizations as they advance digital transformation efforts during the pandemic. Text messages have a 90% open rate and allow you to instantly put your message in the palm of someone’s hand. And while text messages are an effective way to ask for donations, they shouldn’t be limited to that. The personal nature of receiving a text, like you would from a friend, can help build stronger relationships with your supporters if they’re open to receiving your texts. You can share updates on programs, send volunteer photos, use it to thank donors or volunteers personally, or provide other updates or resources.

Just like with email, be sure to get permission to communicate via text. Sending texts without permission can be intrusive and a potent way to turn off a supporter. Once you have permission, define your audience and personalize your messages as much as possible. Keep texts short and friendly, and always include a CTA. Consider A/B testing different text messages with a smaller test group to see which resonates best before sending to a larger audience.

Make the most out of every touchpoint

When creating a multi-channel marketing campaign, always start by defining your goals and analyzing your target audience. Segment your audience and identify which channels you’re going to use to reach each one. Then create a content plan that maps out how your message and assets will vary per channel, what your schedule looks like for each channel, and more.

Need help planning and implementing your non-profit’s multi-channel outreach? Let’s talk!

Photo by Dan Gold via Unsplash