This is part two of a series on nonprofit integrated marketing. Read the first post if you haven’t already! 

So you’ve read up on nonprofit integrated marketing and you’re sold on its benefits. But how does it work, exactly? What steps should your nonprofit take to start integrating your efforts? Here’s the scoop on how to make it work and what it looks like in practice.

How nonprofit integrated marketing works

Integrated marketing sounds awesome in theory, but what does it really mean in practical terms?

Understanding your communication channels

A big part of integrated marketing is cross-promotion. The trick to effective cross-promotion is understanding all of your channels of communication. And that doesn’t just mean online channels. You’re communicating with the public constantly, online and offline. So, this goes beyond just coordinating your online channels.

Image of computer, phone, notebook, glasses, camera & coffee

Your channels of communication can include:

  • Your Mightycause page
  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Website
  • Blog, if you have one
  • Your marketing collateral (brochures, fliers, etc.)
  • Direct mail
  • Events
  • Front-end staff
  • You facilities/lobby

The first step to getting your marketing efforts integrated is listing all of your channels. And leave no stone unturned! Some smaller nonprofits might just have a handful of channels, but bigger nonprofits can have channels (like donated print space in local papers, your lobby, your organization’s voicemail) that can easily fall through the cracks.

Create a donor pipeline

So, if you work in nonprofit development, you’re probably familiar with the term “donor pipeline,” particularly as it relates to major gifts. But there’s another donor pipeline you can create with all of the various entry points and communication channels in your organization and how you can move them from one area to the next.

Graphic of nonprofit integrated marketing pipeline

Your nonprofit’s pipeline will probably look different, but this graphic is a good idea of how it works. At the bottom of the pipeline is the entry point (in this example, social media, meaning you picked up a follower on Facebook or Twitter.) Then, you’ll try to usher them through the donor pipeline, based on their entry point. So, from social media, how do you get them to sign up for your email list? From your email list, how will you get them on your mailing list? Then you’ll want to them to make a donation. Once they’ve made a one-time donation, your goal is to get them to make a recurring donation. As part of the process, you’ll have a pathway from each point in the pipeline to the next — how will you keep the pipeline flowing?

With integrated marketing, you’re making it easy for the donor to move along the pipeline with your “little gold boxes” and bridges, but you’ll want to create a plan for each entry point. After a supporter enters the pipeline, what do you do next to keep them moving? A little planning is required, but it also goes a long way. Generating a system of moving donors from their entry point to the next logical communication channel will make this process smooth, easy and you can even automate parts of it. Create your own pipeline and formulate a plan to keep it full and keep it flowing.

Invest in the right tools

One of the easiest ways to help your supporters begin a journey with your nonprofit is with marketing automation software. You don’t have the time to sit down and nurture each individual donor through your pipeline, do you? Of course not! But with marketing automation software, you can sit down once and map out the journeys for your supporters. You’ll need their email addresses in order to send them on journeys with marketing automation software. So, you’ll want to make signing up for your emails a cornerstone of your marketing strategy if you use marketing automation software.

There are a ton of different companies providing marketing automation software, for every price point and skill level. Do some research online and find out which software works best for you. This list from Capterra is a great place to start exploring your options. Narrow down the options to software that fits into your budget, provides the features you want and works for your skill level.

Measure results

We’ve talked before about the importance of data and analytics. And an important part of integrated marketing communications is measuring your results. You’ll need to determine which metrics are most important to your nonprofit’s communications plan, pull data regularly and analyze the results. Careful analysis of your results will tell you what’s working and what needs improvement. It’ll also alert you to leaks and clogs in your donor pipeline (meaning, trouble spots where people either leave the pipeline or fail to move forward).

Nonprofit marketing team discussing analytics

Create a marketing calendar

One of the key aspects of integrated marketing communications is your marketing calendar. This is a one-stop shop where you and your team can see what’s coming up, what other team members are doing and what your marketing priorities are. This helps you coordinate your efforts, build your little gold boxes, bridges and mirrors. Your marketing calendar will help your team stay organized, understand what to do and know what other team members are working on.

Set priorities

If you don’t know what your priorities are, you can’t effectively market. Most nonprofits have a lot going on, so ensuring that your team understands where various projects stand is essential. How do you determine priorities? Well, they should come from your organization’s leaders. Meaning, your executive director or board of directors. That way there’s little opportunity for internal conflict over whose project is high-priority, because the orders come down from on high.

Rank calendar items by priority

Your calendar should have all items ranked by their priority. Helpful shorthand is “P1,” “P2,” “P3” and so on, or simply “HP” and “LP.” This means you’re marrying your schedule of promotions and campaigns with where they fall on your priority list. This gets your team thinking “big picture” when they’re working and how to fit them all together.

Say your nonprofit has a table at the county fair where you’ll be handing out information and speaking with fair-goers about your work. That’s P3. During the same month, you have a walk-a-thon that is P1 for your nonprofit because it’s one of the biggest fundraising events of the year. Your team will be able to see that you’ve got the table at the fair and plan to promote the walk-a-thon at the same time. They might bring a sign-up sheet for the walk-a-thon, distribute fliers for the event, wear t-shirts advertising the walk-a-thon and make sure anyone working the table is prepared to promote the walk-a-thon specifically instead of just sharing general information about your nonprofit.

If staff members had worked separately and did not have a calendar that alerted them to the fact that the walk-a-thon was high-priority, your nonprofit would have missed out on meaningful opportunities to engage with the community about your biggest fundraiser of the year.

Image of computer and keyboard

Keep it up-to-date and accessible

The biggest thing your nonprofit must do is treat the marketing calendar as a living document that changes all the time. Priorities can shift, programs and events can change, so you’ll need to make sure your calendar is accurate and only has up-to-date information. And all of your team members will need to have easy access to it, so a paper calendar in someone’s office won’t do. Put it online, and go a step further by appointing a Calendar Manager who will be in charge of making sure it’s updated and everyone has access.

Putting it all together

Once you have these pieces in place, you can begin integrated marking communications at your nonprofit with a few steps.

  1. Meet with your team (and make it a regular, standing meeting)
  2. Distribute your marketing calendar
  3. Start building your bridges and “little gold boxes” into your communication channels and content
  4. Start marketing!

Example: #GivingTuesday

Now let’s see how this all works in action. #GivingTuesday is a 24-hour giving marathon that takes place on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. It’s a great example to use because #GivingTuesday usually flows into end-of-year giving.

Image of computer with "Do more" written on screen

The basics

  • #GivingTuesday is November 28th
  • It’s a high-priority (P1) because it brings in new donors and generates lots of revenue for your nonprofit
  • Segues into year-end giving

First steps

First things first, register for #GivingTuesday on Mightycause to access free training resources and free fundraising for your nonprofit! And then add it to your marketing calendar. Do this as soon as possible so your team can anticipate it. From September through November, you will want to rank #GivingTuesday as a top priority.

You’ll want to meet with your team to plot out your campaign. (Which is a whole ‘nother post.) Then your team will need to look at what you’ve got coming up from September through November and determine how you can weave #GivingTuesday into each effort.

Multichannel marketing

So, let’s take a look at your hypothetical calendar in the months of September through November and talk about how you can market #GivingTuesday:

  • Direct mail. You’ve got a mailer going out in October. You don’t need to center the mailer around #GivingTuesday, but you can include a “save the date.” A magnet would be a great addition to your mailer that shouldn’t be expensive to add on. It’s something most mailhouses can easily do and it’s the kind of small token direct mail donors love.
  • Website. Have your webmaster add a #GivingTuesday graphic teasing your campaign toward the end of September.
  • E-newsletter. Include a “save the date” in your September e-newsletter and build out a content section teasing your campaign in October.
  • Internal. Add signage to your lobby and outside of your facilities! Make a flier and have it available at the front desk. Train your front-end staff to plug #GivingTuesday. In November, change your voicemail message to mention #GivingTuesday. Instruct all staff members to add #GivingTuesday to their email signatures starting in October.
  • Social media. Start promoting it on social media in late September, then ramp up posts in October. Create a Facebook event in November. Read more about social media promotion for #GivingTuesday.
  • Events. Add a #GivingTuesday component at any planned events. Distribute fliers, create an email sign-up sheet to increase the size of your email list, prep staff and volunteers to promote #GivingTuesday. No event is too small!
  • Traditional media. If you have a regular spot on a local TV news show, train your on-camera person to plug #GivingTuesday and ask them to add a graphic to your segment with a #GivingTuesday plug. If you have a regular print ad in a local paper, add a #GivingTuesday component.

The cross-promotional opportunities truly are endless! You will have planted little gold boxes all over the place by November if you’re diligent about cross-promotion.

Create journeys

Most likely, you’ll pick up lots of donations on #GivingTuesday. You’ll gain a few new donors too. And you’ll want to think about how to segue those donors into your year-end campaign. So as part of the planning process, think about how to onboard new donors and get them moving along the pipeline.

You’ve got their email address, so you can create an automated email journey for them. But you can also send them a thank-you letter (or, even better, a welcome packet). You can invite them to a happy hour for #GivingTuesday donors. There are so many ways to engage them! Come up with a plan to shepherd your #GivingTuesday donors into your end-of-year campaign, and put the essential pieces in place while putting the final touches on your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Boy with leaf and #GivingTuesday logo
Register for #GivingTuesday now!

So, now that you know the fundamentals of nonprofit integrated marketing, get out there and start promoting your cause!

Have any questions about nonprofit integrated marketing? Get in touch! Email us as

Related Pages

Integrated Marketing Communications for Nonprofits: A Primer

Fall Fundraiser Planning: Tips and Ideas to Get Ready for Fall



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