By Heather Mansfield, founder and editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Tech for Good
AI, Shorts-Reels-and-TikToks, and Threads are the top emerging trends for nonprofits in 2024, but an overfocus on what’s new and next can sometimes be at the expense of utilizing digital marketing and fundraising trends that are easier to implement and have a more immediate return on investment – especially for small nonprofits.
Over the last year, Nonprofit Tech for Good has observed that many old school a.k.a. retro digital marketing and fundraising strategies are making a comeback as evidenced by high engagement on social media and in email. In 2024, what’s old is new again.
1) Infographics [redesigned]
In the 2010s, infographics created by nonprofits were consistently the most engaged, posted, shared, and retweeted content on social media, but around 2018, the infographic craze inexplicably came to an abrupt halt.
In 2024, infographics are primed to make a comeback. In the past, nonprofit infographics were long and dense with data, but moving forward mini-infographics designed for social media and short-form video format could provide a much-needed boost in organic reach and engagement on social media.
2) Postcards [with QR codes]
Gen Z rarely receives print mail, so it makes an impact when it arrives. Millennials and Gen X appreciate snail mail that isn’t a bill or a notice of a bill to come. And Boomers, if they are fortunate, are in the peak of their retirement years and actually have the time to open and read mail from nonprofits.
The problem is that most print mail from nonprofits is boring. In 2024, postcards with QR codes designed to make an impact (LOL funny, powerful quotes, beautiful art, photography, etc.) could break through the clutter of tri-fold fundraising appeals and dense print newsletters.
That said, before mailing out that postcard campaign, ask yourself: Would people like or share this on social media? Hang it on their refrigerator? If your first instinct is no, then don’t send it! The point of postcards in 2024 is to do something different with the design and QR codes—not all QR codes need to link to a donation page! QR codes can link to an awareness campaign, generate a phone call to an elected official, link to an online petition, an email opt-in form, an Instagram account, a RSVP page, etc.
3) Content marketing [rediscovered]
For the last decade, nonprofit marketing and fundraising has placed a heavy focus on securing leads and fundraising revenue through the use of social media ads, but with the coming demise of third-party cookies in Google Search, it is going to become much more difficult to attribute website traffic and online donations to social media ads. Social media started as a community building and storytelling tool, then evolved into hyper-focused marketing and advertising tool, and will now will revolve back to its roots.
2024 is a good time to resurrect dormant blogs and prioritize photo essays, long-form video, and infographics for social media content marketing. The death of third-party cookies means that social media will perform the best for nonprofits that consistently share educational and meaningful content that inspires their followers to get more involved rather than simply triggering them to click on a fundraising ad.
4) Being kind on social media [and human]
People on Threads are nice. There are almost no trolls (block them!) and the comments are sane, friendly, and useful. It’s like Twitter in 2010! For those that use Threads, the lack of toxicity has been a startling reminder of the humanity we have lost on social media.
2024 is an election year and social media is going to get even more ugly. Stand out, be different, be kind, and share good news.
5) Tribute giving [for birthdays and holidays]
Nonprofits began to offer tribute gifts in the early 2000s—for birthdays, weddings, graduation gifts, holidays, and memorials. At the time, tribute donors would send a check and the contact information of their tribute gift recipients, and the nonprofit would then snail mail the tribute gift recipients an acknowledgement letter or card.
Today, tribute giving has morphed into a passive tick box on a donation page that sends an automated email for “In Memoriam and “In Honor” gifts. Boring, and a missed opportunity. Facebook Birthday Fundraisers have accustomed supporters of nonprofits to making donations as gifts and 2024 is an excellent time to expand and re-launch tribute giving programs. For those nonprofits that use WordPress, the Tributes plugin empowers your nonprofit to easily offer tribute gifts with e-cards. Yehp. E-cards circa 2005!
In 2024, in addition to the standard memorial and honor gifts, offer Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice and Equinox, Ramadan, Lunar New Year, Diwali, birthday, new baby, wedding, and graduation gifts. Download our free, ungated guide How to Launch & Grow a Tribute Giving Program: A How-To for Nonprofits, to get started.
6) Meetups [as FUNraisers]
People are lonely and longing to connect in person, and local nonprofits can help. Using a service like Meetup, nonprofits can create MeetUp groups to help people connect to each other and your nonprofit. Ideas: Meetups for walking, hiking, stretching or yoga in the park, book clubs, book readings, discussion groups, support groups, social hours at local pubs and coffee shops, movies, museums visits, dog parks, etc.! Meetups are low-key and require very little planning, and using MeetUp Pro ($30 a month), your nonprofit can grow your brand in your local community and build your email list.
Our Certificate in Social Media Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of social media marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit. Participants will learn how to create a social media strategy, how to craft a content marketing plan, and current best practices for using social media for community engagement and fundraising.
The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs $100 USD. To earn the 2024 certificate, you can attend the webinars live or view the recordings – or a combination of both. Learn more & register!