Thought Leadership

5 tech essentials that every non-profit needs

While meeting people face-to-face is still arguably the best way to raise funds, thanks to email lists, digital ads, social media, and other tech, it’s easier than ever to reach and mobilize supporters quickly.

Jennifer Paukman

Categories: Thought Leadership

September 18, 2018

Once upon a time, the good folks at non-profits relied heavily on grassroots marketing tactics like going door-to-door, organizing community rallies, raising their voice through megaphones and touring neighbourhoods with flyers and posters to garner support for a cause.

Luckily, times have changed and while meeting people face-to-face is still arguably the best way to raise funds, thanks to email lists, digital ads, social media, and other tech, it’s easier than ever to reach and mobilize supporters quickly. Regardless of the size, budget or resource availability of your non-profit, you now have access to a new toolkit that can maximize your impact.

non-profit tech

Curious about how to navigate the robust and sometimes confusing world of non-profit tech?

Here are 5 tech essentials that every non-profit needs:



Did you know that Google has a grants program to help non-profits reach more donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries? Eligible organizations can access up to $10,000 USD per month to spend on Google’s advertising platform. Think of all the new donors, newsletter sign-ups, volunteer registrations, and website visits those funds could bring.

The sign-up process is fairly straightforward, but there are some restrictions. Only keyword-targeted, text-based ads with a cost-per-click (CPC) of $2.00 or less are eligible. You can’t use the grant for image-based ads so if you’re planning a bigger campaign. We suggest creating a more robust digital strategy and setting aside an additional budget for display ads.

Google aims to provide audiences with high-quality, appealing content, so it restricts ads with low click-through-rates (CTR). CTR is measured by the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times it is shown. The target CTR for the grants program is 5% That means that you need 5 clicks for every 100 times your ad is shown to remain eligible. The standard across all industries is 1.91%, making the 5% figure challenging to maintain. Hiring a professional to manage your Google ad account can help you find the most relevant keywords and keep your quality score up. A higher quality score means a lower cost-per-click and better ad positioning too.


youtube homepage

Did you know that people retain 95% of a message if they watch it in a video versus 10% if they read it in text form? Video content is shareable, often with high click-through-rates, and 57% of people who watch a non-profit’s video will go on to make a donation. If you aren’t using videos in your marketing, it’s a good time to start.

People watch online videos a lot, 78% watch weekly and 55% watch daily. It’s estimated that by 2020, online videos will account for 80% of all consumer web traffic. Did you know that when you sign-up for Google’s non-profit program, your cause gets premium access to YouTube too?

If you don’t have the time or resources to create video content, have no fear! YouTube gives non-profits access to its production spaces, equipment and learning workshops free of charge. And there’s one right here in Toronto. Need some video inspiration? Check out these examples and don’t forget to use YouTube’s premium features to add links directly to your videos that lead to your donation page.


Facebook has useful features to help non-profits raise funds as well. Now, eligible causes can add a “donate” button to their Facebook header, on ads, in live videos, and on Facebook posts. Donations are either processed through a third-party fundraising platform via a link or directly through Facebook, so supporters never have to leave the site to give.

Another new feature allows anyone to set-up their own fundraising page to share their story and rally support for a cause they care about through their own personal network. Funds collected go directly to the charity, eliminating the need for additional administration and processing costs. Try it out yourself. Click “Fundraisers” on the left sidebar of your Facebook newsfeed, then use the ‘fundraisers’ tool to create a custom donation page.

Facebook will soon be rolling out a donation matching tool where verified profiles and pages can match donations made by fundraisers. Users will also be able to automatically make recurring monthly and annual donations through the Facebook donate button. With these tools, charities and nonprofits can effectively mobilize supporters, inspiring them to give.


hootsuite homepage

Last year, email marketing made up approximately 26% of all online fundraising revenue. Starting an email list is a cost-effective and easy way to keep supporters engaged and informed about the great work you do. While keeping the emails flowing can seem daunting, there are tools out there to make it easy, affordable, and user-friendly. MailChimp allows you to build a 2000 person mailing list and send up to 12,000 emails per month at no cost. Need more than 2000 subscribers? It also offers a 15% discount on paid plans to eligible nonprofits.

If you don’t have a designer, you can still craft beautiful emails, sign-up forms, and simple campaign landing pages using MailChimp. There are lots of easy-to-use ‘drag and drop’ templates and designs to choose from. One of the most underused and arguably most valuable tools MailChimp offers are its segmentation and automation tools. Using these, you can sort your lists into categories. Then automate a series of emails to be sent out at a specific time.

For example, if someone signs up through a form about registering for your signature fundraising event, you may want to send a series of emails that introduce the event. You might want to show subscribers how to use their fundraising page. Or give them an impact story to motivate them to start fundraising. You may not want the same emails to go to the whole list of people who have already started fundraising. That’s where segmentation and automation come in. This type of marketing is more sophisticated and personalized, yet it’s easy to implement and it can have worthwhile results. Segmented emails get 15% more opens and 60% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns.

MailChimp also integrates other tools like SalesForce, WordPress, Eventbrite, and more to make your communication efforts seamless. Want to know what’s working? You can A/B test subject lines to see which perform best, get analytics, and create reports to show how many people clicked on links and opened your emails. Need some tips for writing better emails? Here’s 7.

SproutSocial vs. Hootsuite

sprout social

Using a social media scheduling tool can maximize your team’s resources. This gives them time to create more valuable content and nurture relationships with followers. We love SproutSocial because it has one robust inbox with all of your social media comments, responses, and activities for every channel, in one place. This allows you to respond and interact with audiences more efficiently. It also has a user-friendly content calendar that recommends the best times to post. It shows you all of your scheduled content in a daily, weekly, or monthly view.

You can create draft posts and apply an approval process if needed. It has built-in social listening so you can monitor mentions even when you’re not tagged. The platform comes with robust analytics, allowing you to see more in-depth results than the built-in insights on most social media platforms. Reviewing these allows you to adjust your social media strategy based on your results. That way you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t. SproutSocial offers a 30-day trial so you can test out its features and determine if it’s the right platform for you.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly tool, we recommend starting out with Hootsuite. It offers a very limited free plan that allows you to connect three social media profiles. You can schedule up to 30 messages per month. Hootsuite also offers a 50% discount for non-profits on its more robust Professional and Team Plans. Want to be a social media star for your cause? Here are a few tips.

With these digital marketing tools at your disposal, you can help expand the reach and impact of your cause without breaking the bank. Add them to your nonprofit tech toolkit to start planning more robust, integrated campaigns.

That’s a lot to take in, I know! But it’s powerful stuff. Contact us and we’ll help you create a marketing or communications plan that’s easy to maintain, so you can go back to doing what you do best, making the world a better place.


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