The Nonprofit Marketing Funnel: Advertising Through the Journey

the nonprofit marketing funnel: advertising through the journey

The Nonprofit Marketing Funnel: Advertising Through the Journey

An important aspect of digital marketing is understanding your audience and where they are in the donor journey. For an integrated marketing strategy, that may mean reaching your audience on different advertising channels or platforms. Fully comprehending your potential donor base requires placing the correct ads in front of users at the appropriate point in the marketing funnel.nonprofit organization supporter donor funnel prospects engagers supporters sustainers ambassadors marketing funnel


A prospect is a potential donor who resembles your ideal supporter profile, but may not have heard of your organization yet. This is someone who may be searching for your services or looking to support a cause like yours and has not found it. 

Organic traffic made up 44% of nonprofit website visits in 2019, with only 0.17% of that traffic donating. It’s imperative that your site’s landing pages accurately portray your nonprofit’s mission and goals, with persuasive content that shows that your organization is the one to donate to for this cause. Content marketing is a great tool to help your followers understand your mission, and you can use platforms such as Google Ads to drive new users to important blogs, listicles, “How-To” articles and more. 

Google Ads makes for a great entry point for prospects who are searching for your services or the content you have to offer, particularly the Google Ad Grant. YouTube and Display ads are ideal for brand awareness, as they are able to show your brand logo and colors. At this stage, it’s important to focus on raising awareness to these prospects and capture their interest in order to generate leads, which are prospects that have expressed an interest in your nonprofit. Cause Inspired has seen a high success rate with lead form ads LinkedIn and Facebook Ads, which allow users to complete a meaningful conversion without ever leaving a mobile app or site. Leads voluntarily give the information to marketers to move further through the marketing funnel to the next stage.


A majority of donors will not perform a serious conversion, particularly a donation, upon first visit of your organization’s website if they have just learned about it. Once you have captured the interest of your potential converters, you should provide meaningful content on your website and social media platforms to keep your nonprofit’s brand at the top of their mind. Your content is still important here, because you need to convince users to take meaningful action.

At this point, you want to nurture the interest you have captured. Basic remarketing on Google Display or Facebook can remind users why they were interested in your cause in the first place. Your messaging should show them how easy it can be to join the mission and help support your organization. “Remarketing has been a great tool for my clients to re-engage with their audience and build brand recognition further,” says Senior Digital Strategist Sarah Symoens. “You can capture your audience’s attention while they’re watching YouTube, reading articles, or even using an App to remind them of your mission, products, and especially your brand.”


Supporters include individuals who are willing to donate to your campaigns and actively engage with your social content. You can use your social media accounts to your advantage by engaging your supporters and encouraging them to share fundraisers and updates on your mission. This is a person who wants to spread your message and share your content with their friends and family, so it’s important to have a cohesive message on all platforms.

At this phase advertisers want to engage these supporters by encouraging them to become repeat donors and take their involvement with the organization to the next level. One potential remarketing strategy could include targeting an audience that has donated to your nonprofit or engaged meaningfully with your organization in the past few months but has not returned or engaged since. You can remind these individuals of the good work you are doing and where their valuable donation dollars are going with Display ads that show on the website they frequently visit.

Another option for this would be to run an integrated marketing campaign that remarkets to your donors on all social platforms. Sharing a strong, cohesive message across advertising channels not only re-engages donors, but builds brand loyalty so they will eventually turn into a sustainer.


Sustainers are recurring donors and volunteers who go above and beyond for the organization to help the mission succeed. These individuals are incredibly important to the organization, and believe in the importance of the mission. However, it’s essential to nurture this audience through positive engagement on your platforms so you don’t lose them. Try creating “Volunteer Highlight” blogs, and always remember to give your donors a hearty “Thank You” in any way possible. 

With a digital marketing strategy you can take this one step further by including pictures and videos of your volunteers in your ad creatives. Some of the best YouTube ads feature real people doing real things for your organization, and one of the best features of a sustainer is that they inspire others to join your cause. Use their hard work and dedication to your mission to further what you’re able to accomplish through YouTube, Display, and Social Media ads.


While donating is an important step in your donor funnel, engaging donors, and turning them into meaningful, long-term ambassadors of your mission should be high on your priority list. This category, sometimes called the evangelist or cheerleader, goes beyond monetary support and helps raise awareness for your organization by sharing your message with others. An ambassador may start by sharing their recent donation on social media, which is why it’s important to create a thank you page for your donors that includes gratitude, highlights the good work that their donation funds, and social sharing buttons. 

Social media platforms like Facebook also allow ambassadors to start their own fundraisers in support of your organization, asking them to crowdfund on behalf of your nonprofit to all of their friends and family for special days, like an ambassador’s birthday or #GivingTuesday, or in times of great need.  

Furthermore, you also want to keep your supporters engaged, adding them to email campaigns that highlight new initiatives, fundraising opportunities, and even well wishes during the holidays to help them feel like part of the organization. Staying in touch with your ambassadors is a simple way to reach new audiences and maintain donor relationships.

To successfully market to your audience and move them through the funnel, advertisers should be reaching people at every level of the marketing funnel, and digital marketing makes that specificity easier than ever. 

If you are curious about reaching your audience at the right point in the digital marketing funnel, learn more about our additional services beyond the Google Ad Grant, or contact one of our specialists to find the strategy right for you.