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8 Proven Ideas for Using Digital Advertising to Raise Money Online

Are you using digital advertising to promote your nonprofit or its mission? Paid advertising can be a powerful tool to reach your people more effectively. But what are the best uses for different types of ads? Here are few ideas.

  1. Create awareness for your nonprofit or for a specific campaign by using display ads. While these banner or sidebar ads on websites rarely get many clicks and even fewer sales or donations, that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. They are great at creating brand awareness, especially in conjunction with other digital ad types or channels (email, mail, phone, events, etc.) that have a strong call to action.
  2. Target people who are searching for subjects that directly relate to a campaign with a strong call to action by using pay-per-click (PPC) search ads. Most commonly these are Google AdWords, where you bid on certain keywords so that an ad that is relevant to what someone is searching for appears next to the search results. A Google Grant can give you access to free search ads.
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Unconventional ways to better reach your audience

Showering donors with tales of your organization’s excellence is not a good way to raise funds.

Jeff Brooks


Reaching people and getting them to care about your organization and its mission is hard. Here are a few tactics that will help.


The Bad News About Good News in Fundraising
Is there a more effective way to inspire donors, supporters or advocates than the language we typically use? Yes, there is.
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You know exactly what to do, right?

Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.

— Leo Tolstoy, A Confession


You’re educated, trained and experienced. You have a plan, you know what to do and you’re on your way. But it’s always worthwhile to take a step back and think. . . am I right? Because sometimes you learn that everything you think you know is wrong. Three examples:

  1. Just because you can measure activity doesn’t mean you know what’s going on.
  2. The way nonprofits do things is the way nonprofits should do things.
  3. Social media is a link in the chain, not the be-all end-all.

Let’s take a second and see what we can learn.

I Don’t Know my Online Audience and Neither do You
We can measure so much about our audience. But do we really know anything? Here is an important cautionary tale to never make assumptions and to ground your work online in a holistic strategy that encompasses everything and that always aims at real-world engagement.
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The right tools; the right strategy

The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.

Casey Stengel


This week has been about how critical the right coworkers and employees are. Hiring a new employee made me realize how blessed I am to have a great team and to be part of a great team. Isn’t that one of the best benefits of working for a nonprofit?

Even the best people need the right tools and the right blueprint. We’re craftspeople, wielding digital tools to educate and inspire. Use them well.


Julia’s Nonprofit Social Media Checklist
This checklist is a great set of strategy questions to review once in a while to see if you’re still on track or are missing something.
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3 ways to captivate your readers

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.



Every week, when I sit down to write this blog I know I’ve waited too long to get started and I’m not quite sure yet what I want to say. But that’s what works to get my creativity flowing.

All week long I’ve been searching for the best content to share. My mission is to help you do your job better, to help make the world a little better place.

Along the way, I’m trying to learn and understand the best strategies and tactics so I can incorporate them and reach more people. If only I can figure it all out then I can help others too.
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Details, details, details. Are you mastering them?

The devil is in the details, but so is salvation.

Hyman G. Rickover


Details matter. While strategies and plans are critical for the focus needed to achieve success, it’s the details of implementation that often make or break the outcome.

Details can mislead, however. If you don’t understand which details matter, and which don’t, your work will never reach its potential. For nonprofits, it’s always about maximum effectiveness. You’re always short of everything you need, right?

It’s critical to become an expert on the details that get you closest toward the goal of your strategy, so you’re always spending time only on work that works best. That means making hard choices about how you spend your time. And that’s often the hardest detail of all.
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Building trust for your nonprofit brand

The digital asset that matters is trust. Awareness first, then interaction, and maybe a habit, but all three mean nothing if they don’t lead to permission and trust. The privilege of connection.

Seth Godin


How do you inspire trust? Trust is a critical step in building a tribe of fans, supporters and advocates. Not just what you say, but how you say it and if what you do matches what you say.

Your nonprofit’s reputation is critical to your success and is built on a foundation of trust. Often, your nonprofit’s reputation is all you have, since so much of your work takes place out of sight and you can only tell stories about it.

That’s why it’s important to regularly take a measured, deliberate and close look at your reputation: how your audience perceives you, rather than what your organization is saying about itself.

But how often does this happen? Or does that work get lost amid the day-to-day work of what we want to say instead of what they’re hearing?
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Are you using the right strategies online?

What you really need is a business strategy enabled with digital tools and solutions.

Devon Hopkins


Is your nonprofit using outdated thinking to drive your online tactics? Are your core strategies obsolete? Starting a new year is the perfect time to reevaluate.

If “build it and they will come” is your idea of a good plan, you should just quit and find another career, because you’re hurting your nonprofit’s chances of ever making a difference.

Confident you’re on the right track and success is right around the corner? It doesn’t hurt to make sure.

Here are three articles that might help.
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Back to basics

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

Steve Jobs


Let’s get practical. It’s tempting to follow the latest trends, technology and strategies, but sometimes it’s worth a moment to consider if you’re optimizing the basics. That’s where you’ll often find the greatest return, on the boring, time-tested details that work.

Is your website focused on its primary objective? Is it easy for people to give you money? Is your social media strategy working effectively?

Most importantly, are your marketing, communications and fundraising strategies aimed at creating real-life engagement that benefits your nonprofit and your cause, not just vanity engagement that feels good?

This is the perfect time to reevaluate how well you’re doing with your core strategy and execution. Some concrete and detailed help:
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A time for reflection

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.

Martha Washington


We’re blessed with so much. Information. Ability. Caring. Support. Success. These are the best of times for nonprofits. It’s good to reflect on that fact as we meet our challenges.


Stumbling Your Way to Greatness
Seth Godin
One reason people who spend a lot of time thinking about and working on a problem or a craft seem to find breakthroughs more often than everyone else is that they’ve failed more often than everyone else.


How to be the Most Productive Person in Your Office
How do you get more done and still get home by 5:30pm?
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