Nonprofit Success in 2017: Who and What to Look For

By Lisa Marinelli on January 6, 2017
Nonprofit Web Design Millennials

Hopefully the recent giving season has left your organization happy and fuller. It’s never too early to start planning for even greater success this year. Here are two growing donor populations to nurture, plus a few challenges to address for smooth sailing in 2017.

Train Your Lens on Millennials to Increase Nonprofit Donations

Although they have a media reputation of living in their parents’ basements and not having clear life objectives, nothing could be further from the truth for the 7.5 million Millennials who gave $1000 or more to a charitable cause in 2014. And 63 million Millennials made some charitable contribution in 2014 ( They also volunteer and raise money like champs. According to a USA Today survey, the top causes Millennials support are social and economic inequality, climate change and sustainability, and education.

Some may overlook them due to their hazy brand image, but Millennials are concerned about your causes, want to help, and are motivated to act.


5 Ways to Influence Millennial Donors to Give to Your Nonprofit Organization

1. Give options.

Millennials are well-versed in all the ways they can give money online. But not all giving options need to be online donations – millennials love to give their time and physical donations as well. Look for ways they can donate their talents, like art to auction, financial services, or organizing events. Even if you’ve had a rigid framework of donation rules in the past, offer as many options as you can in order to capitalize on millennials’ creativity.

2. Use social media – theirs, not just yours.

Take advantage of millennials’ connection through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by making sure your posts center around your cause and the emotions it creates. Create a social media buzz that begs to be shared.

3. Celebrate the interconnectedness of social issues.

Every nonprofit is tied to more than one social issue. Be sure you’re talking all of them up on social media, your blog, and any other outlet. You never know which issue in particular may resonate with a millennial who has donated to a similar cause.

4. Tell the stories of their results

Millennials love to see the effects of their giving. Go beyond the yearly holiday newsletter and post all the little steps and victories via social media and your website. Use video to capture the montage of how it all fits together. Interview the recipients of charity and capture the emotions and the stories behind how Millennials are making a difference.

5. Start now.

Today’s Millennials are tomorrow’s settled homemakers, upper management, and long-trusted community influencers. Build your brand with Millennials early and earn their loyalty for years of involvement and influence.


Gen Z: Up and Coming Nonprofit Donors Want to Help Your Cause

You may think Generation Z is too immersed in their devices to care about social causes. However, Gen Z is the generation most in touch with the world around them, in part thanks to their technology devices, which act as powerful tools helping them research the problems that beg for solutions in our society. Gen Z is characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit (60% want their professions to impact the world), environmentalism (76% worry about humanity’s impact on the planet) and desire to impact social change. According to JWT Intelligence Report, global social changes drawing Gen Z interest include “poverty reduction, clean water and racial/gender inequity.” In fact, about 26% of those aged 16-19 already volunteer.


5 Ways to Influence Gen Z Donors to Give to your Nonprofit

1. Keep it short

Gen Z is learning about your organization and connecting to you on mobile devices’ smaller screens while on the go. Don’t be a victim of “TLDR” (“too long, didn’t read). SEO best practices for 2017 dictate that your website needs to be responsive (mobile-friendly) to rank well in searches. Be sure you’re getting your site and your cause in front of Zs, the most mobile generation.

2. Tell your story

Don’t miss the opportunity to illustrate how our contribution can make a difference. On social media, Gen Z share posts that express their values and evoke their emotion. Gen Z respects a brand that can tell a great story.

3. Enhance Impact

Smart marketing and use of social media platforms is the key to influencing Gen Z to spread awareness of your nonprofit’s mission. Knowledge of other platforms’ use will enhance the impact of your organization reaching Gen Z donors with various mediums. Nonprofits are not limited to only using text and graphics to reach Gen Z.

4. Build meaningful relationships

Building a relationship with Gen Z is important to establish trust and understanding. To build the foundation of a meaningful relationship with Gen Z surrounding your organization, research values that are important to us and communicate where they can be found within your nonprofit.

5. Use infographics  

Shorter content works hand in hand with the use of infographics. When you integrate numerical data and short content into a visual entity, Gen Z is more likely to remember shocking values of information. When writing a blog post or news item for your website, try to add an infographic that is shareable and motivating. It doesn’t have to be your own; feel free to borrow from another source.


Marketing Challenges of Nonprofits

No matter who your nonprofit organization is hoping to reach, there are pitfalls and detours on the road to success. Here are five challenges to overcome by building solutions into your strategic plan:

Forgettable brand promises

Nonprofits’ messages may get lost on the path to the receiver. The target audience may not remember the message being sent by the organization, or it may feel disconnected entirely. Inspire your audience to take the next step in the course of action. The best way to do this is to partner with a neutral third party, such as a branding agency, who will do the legwork needed for target audience discovery, marketing persona development, and appropriate marketing plans of action.

The vague payoff

Measuring the return on investment of marketing and communication efforts is a constant challenge for nonprofits. When marketing campaigns are spread out across many different channels such as blog posts, email, digital ads, etc., it may be hard to keep track of which medium is effectively garnering responses from the persona you are trying to reach. For nonprofits, when new prospects pop up, it may be from a vehicle you are using that you think isn’t working and from a completely different persona than originally targeted. Today, there are excellent backend content management systems (CMSs) with metrics to measure clicks of emails, ads and banners. But unless you have a dedicated data analyst, drawing conclusions from quantitative data can still be convoluted.

Finding the right communication platforms

With new methods to connect to your audience, from social media to email, video, infographics and beyond, each method can be interpreted differently by the receiver even if you’re saying the same message. Nonprofits have to identify the appropriate channels to speak to potential donors that will actually contribute to your cause and advocate for your organization. This is done by knowing your personas and focusing your marketing efforts on them at all times.

Keeping the website current and relevant

Non profit website design isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s an enormous challenge to get it all right: discovery of the donor personas, uncovering the story that will move them, and building a platform that’s easy for both donors and site administrators to understand and use. At the end of the day, to accomplish its goal of collecting donations, a non-profit website design needs to come off as simple, beautiful and compelling. It also needs to be easy for the organization use the backend and track results. While a plug-and-play form collection solution such as Classy can give a power boost to your donation platform, it’s what’s behind the scenes that can make or break operations. Here’s where it’s smart to invest in a tailored back end content management system and custom front end design, to be sure all the gears work seamlessly and your site also has the emotional draw to elicit more donations.

Growing Budgets

Developing a budget for future marketing is a big challenge nonprofits encounter by the end of their current sprint of marketing campaigns. Money influences whether or not an organization will be able to take advantage of new marketing technologies, which is why it is important to try to measure return on investment.



Plan ahead for these challenges, and make 2017 the year your NPO captures the hearts of even more donors in new, younger audiences.




We helped this major nonprofit discover a new, younger audience to the tune of $100,000 donations in the first month of their new website launch.

Read the story here

About Lisa Marinelli

Lisa Marinelli is a third-year Advertising major at the University of Florida and is currently interning with the Pariseaf content marketing team. Drawn to unexplored turf, she absorbs her surroundings like a sponge. She finds the perfect background music for every moment of her day.

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