Inbound Marketing for Nonprofits: Introduction

This post is the first in a series which aims to clarify principles of inbound marketing especially for nonprofit organizations.

coin going into slotWhen you get right down to it, most nonprofits operate under conditions very similar to most small businesses: limited staff, limited resources, but big plans. And, depending on how limited your staff and resources are, the effectiveness of your website may become quite important for the mission of your nonprofit organization.

What do I mean by the effectiveness of your website? The same thing I would mean if I were talking about a small business: lead generation and conversion.  

Lead generation really just means the process of generating interest in your product or service; a person who’s interested is a lead.

Conversion means, optimally, converting a lead into a sale, but more generally it means converting interest into action. So, the overall scheme is to produce interest in what you do, then convert that interest into a desired action.

Naturally, as a nonprofit, conversion will probably mean something different for you than it would mean for a business, i.e., on a business website a conversion might be a visitor clicking a “Buy Now” button. But, really, how different is “Buy Now” from “Donate Now”?

If an essential function of your website is online donations, then you really need to approach your lead generation and conversion process in much the same way a small business would. You need to facilitate discovery of your organization, it’s mission, what the organization does, it’s achievements and success stories, and finally generate desire on the part of the website visitor to include themselves in your mission by making a donation.

This process of telling the story of your organization, creating interest, then converting it into your desired action (a donation) may happen over a period time, and it may happen across various online platforms and media. In other words, it’s not necessarily about someone hitting your website, reading the About Us page, and immediately making a donation (though it is possible for that to happen).

What if the primary purpose of your website is to act as a portal for members of the public to access your services? In that case, many of the same principles will apply. However, things like conversion might be defined differently, i.e., for such a website, conversion might mean someone downloading and/or submitting an application form.


All this talk about leads and conversions has skipped over the key first step: getting visitors to your website in the first place; that is an essential part of inbound marketing.


Even that is based on a presumption that your website is ready to receive visitors, i.e., that your landing pages are optimized to generate leads and conversions.

Sound like some marketing strategy might be in order? I agree. And that’s where we’ll pick up in the next installment.

by Brian Tibbs