How to Make Nonprofit Marketing Effective

Nonprofit marketers often have small marketing budgets but big, life-changing causes. How can nonprofit organizations make their marketing more effective? Our case study of the WINGS Program offers some insight and tips.

WINGS Program is a nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and helping women in the Chicago area who have been abused. How did WINGS Program grow to be one of the largest domestic violence services and housing providers in Illinois? It all started with awareness.


In 1985, when WINGS began, digital marketing wasn’t around to offer a massive platform for their message. They relied solely on word of mouth and printed materials. In today’s world, social media and SEO are great tools to aid in spreading a message, but we can’t discount the power of traditional marketing. Traditional marketing materials, word of mouth, benefit nights and events are an effective way to raise awareness about an issue or cause at a local level.

It’s also crucial for organizations to have a strong online presence, especially an organization that is seeking funding for a cause. The key is integrating these two strategies. Organizations can use traditional marketing materials and events to raise awareness at a local level and use digital marketing to spread the message of their cause to a larger audience to help further their mission.


Once the audience is aware that the cause exists, an organization can begin informing those individuals of why it’s an important cause, how the organization is helping and how the audience members can help, too.

Individuals are more likely to pay attention to content that is educating them rather than trying to persuade them. While the bottom line is important, it’s more important to establish and build trust with publics before asking them to donate.

However, note that the education is directed at the cause, rather than the organization. By bringing attention to a cause, attention for the organization will follow. WINGS Program does a great job with this by offering survivor stories on its website that highlight the cause of the organization. Additionally, WINGS Program maintains a strong social media presence, an informative website and a presence in the community to educate individuals.


While not every individual will choose to commit their life to a cause, they may choose to give time or money to a cause in which they are aware, informed and feel a connection. Individuals make decisions based on a perceived reward and potential costs, so an organization needs to be clear about the outcome and results of a donors’ time and money.

In addition to awareness and education, WINGS Program reports their results from campaigns, thanks donors and shares stories of domestic violence survivors. When individuals are able to see how their contribution makes a difference, it influences them to want to be a part of the advocacy or continue their support of the cause.


The last step is for an individual to act on his or her decision by choosing to donate time or money. Encouraging individuals to take that final step comes from building trust and maintaining a positive relationship with the individuals. WINGS Program does this by communicating with its publics rather than talking to them. This build trust between the organization and its publics and leads to sustained donors, a positive reputation and an effective relationship with the community.

We want to hear about the causes your organization is supporting. How are you combining traditional and digital strategies to reach your community? Leave us a note in the comments.

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