why-non-profits-need-inbound-marketingAn exciting announcement came out of HubSpot last week that's got the inbound world buzzing. As you can see in the promotional video below, HubSpot is partnering with charity: water, "a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.” HubSpot is helping charity: water use the principles of inbound marketing to further spread the non-profit’s mission.



Pretty cool, right? This is one thing I don’t hear discussed a lot in the marketing world - effective and strategic marketing tactics for non-profits. This new partnership got me thinking about it, and after looking through HubSpot’s fundamental inbound marketing principles, it became apparent how this practice philosophically and logically complements non-profit work.

Here are three reasons why non-profits should take a nod from charity: water and look to inbound marketing tactics to spread their mission and accomplish their work. 

Inbound Pushes Content Creation

Non-profits need to give the consumer a reason to care. Content – relevant, humanizing content – can do that. A really effective way that many SMBs use content to attract consumers is through blogging; this same strategy is highly applicable to non-profit work as well. What type of blog content should non-profits produce? A mix of text and video is great. Some topics to focus on might be volunteer and donor profiles - what brought them to the organization, what they do, etc. - or a showcase of your work in-action; an awesome example is Second Harvest Heartland's blog, Hunger Matters:


Because of client privacy, many non-profits have trouble brainstorming content ideas. Take a nod from the blog above: Hunger Matters created a fictitious client that represents the people that need their services. They still humanize their work, but they are also able to maintain client anonymity. Overall, the key thing to remember with content is storytelling; that's your way to connect to potential volunteers and donors. 

Inbound Fosters Transparent Sharing

So, you’ve got the content. What next? Share it. Non-profits are not excluded from the opportunity that social media provides. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn are great tools for sharing content and your non-profit's message. However, just like any other business, be strategic about what channels you use. Think about your target audience; understading who you are trying to reach should inform which social media channels to focus on. 

Random Acts, a non-profit dedicated to acts of kindness worldwide, has a killer, engaging Twitter feed that, well, feeds off of transparency and brand voice. Case-in-point: embarassing videos of their co-founder:

Another appropos social example in the non-profit sector is To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit focused on providing support for those suffering from depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Pretty heavy stuff, but the organization is making smart use of Instagram to showcase the human faces of hope that exist inspite of the heavy issues they deal with:

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Social media can help your non-profit connect on a more emotional level with its audience. They are great platforms to further show and expose you unique culture and mission.

Inbound Converts

Attracting and sharing is great, but how do they translate into donor action? This is where inbound marketing really shines for non-profits. The TOFU examples listed above serve to draw prospects in and keep them coming back to your website; once there, lead nurturing campaigns move them closer and closer to committing to your organization - on their terms. Smart CTA's, landing pages, premium content offers, and targeted email campaigns serve up the content donors need to see when evaluating whether to form a closer relationship with your non-profit. 


Despite the honest and genuine work they do for people across the globe, non-profits face an already exhausted consumer that is bombarded with thousands of brands and advertisements each day. Peoples' time is pulled by work, family, commitments, necessities and the like. Most want to give back, but there is only so much giving that can be done.

Inbound marketing can help your non-profit connect on a meaningful level with donors on their terms, making them more willing to commit time and resources to your mission. Win-win? Yes.

Inbound marketing: helping non-profits save the world - one delighted consumer at a time.