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5 online tools to become a nonprofit marketing expert

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When I started in nonprofit marketing, with a shiny new journalism degree in hand, I thought I was all set to succeed. How hard can it be?

I had much to learn about what makes a good marketer. After over a decade in the field, I have found that there are three key areas in which a nonprofit marketer needs to do well to be effective: creative storytelling, project management, and analytics.

Talk about using different parts of your brain. In this blog post, I will share five of the best online tools out there that will help you succeed in these areas of nonprofit marketing. Many of these tools are free, affordable, or offer a generous nonprofit discount.

Creative storytelling

As a nonprofit marketer, you need to be able to communicate compelling stories that get to the heart of the problem your organization solves. A good storyteller can move audiences through both long-form (blog post or direct mail appeal) and short-form (tweet), using numerous kinds of media, including written word, audio, still images, video, and animation.

These are my favorite tools for creating inspiring content.

  • Canva
    Canva is a website that drastically simplifies graphic design. It offers a drag-and-drop format, hundreds of templates to choose from, and access to photographs, icons, graphics, and fonts. The tools can be used to produce both web and print media, so you will be able to create everything from social media images, flyers, and email designs to infographics and gifs.Canva offers its premium version for free to registered nonprofits.
  • Wave Video is a free online video editor. This site allows you to quickly create high-quality video content that is optimized for social media. They have dozens of formats to help you create stunning videos. You can upload your media or choose from the millions of stock videos and images in their library.

Project management

A marketer will turn a vision into a reality, which takes a great deal of planning and project management. Your day-to-day tasks likely range from creating and managing a content calendar, making production timelines, and collaborating with staff across your organization to reach your nonprofit marketing communications goals.

A good project manager is a leader who is highly organized, resourceful problem solver, and an excellent communicator. Here are a few tools that will make these tasks much more manageable.

  • Hootsuite
    Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools, and also one of the most affordable. The site allows you to schedule content on all major social networks in one place, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It also allows you to monitor engagement on your channels and helps you respond instantly.What I find most helpful about Hootsuite is its analytics feature. It tracks data from all your social networks in one place and runs visual reports with benchmarks that you can choose.Hootsuite has a limited free plan and then ranges from $29/month to $599/month for large teams and businesses. Hootsuite offers a 50 percent nonprofit discount on professional plans.
  • Sprout Social
    Sprout Social is a more sophisticated social media manager than Hootsuite (and therefore, more expensive). They share many of the same features. What sets Sprout Social apart is its listening features, which give you insight on trending keywords, hashtags, brands, industries, and multimedia.The plans range from $99/month to $249/month. While they do not advertise a nonprofit discount on their website, talk to a sales rep about this kind of offering.


Not only do you need to be a leader with a creative mind, but to be an effective marketer, you must also be a critical thinker.

Your marketing strategies and decisions should be data-based, meaning you should always be measuring and analyzing your activities’ performance. A successful marketer understands industry standards and will set and track KPIs (key performance indicators) that challenging but doable.

One of the most useful (and free!) analytics tool is Google Analytics.

  • Google Analytics
    Google Analytics provides free insights on how users find and use your website. It will allow you to understand your website’s users, traffic sources, and most and least popular content. While it may not seem intuitive at first, once you get the hang of it, this tool will serve you very well.Using online marketing tools like these will not only streamline your work and save you time, it will allow you to focus on the areas of marketing that bring you the most joy.

Want to learn more?

Join me at the upcoming webinar, “10 Online Tools to Skyrocket Your Nonprofit’s Marketing in 2020,” offered by Wild Apricot on January 28.


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