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5 Lead Generation Techniques for Non-Profits


On average, websites have a 1-2% conversion rate. This means that marketers only generate 5 leads out of every 500 visitors to their sites. This may not be great news for most non-profits, especially since they need donations to help others against the financial and social issues they face. In that case, marketers need to perfect their lead generation process and attract potential donors. The following five lead generation techniques for non-profits can help in this regard, maximizing the number of leads you generate through your efforts.

Technique 1: Use Social Networking for Viral Campaigns

Social media is one great answer to the question of how to generate leads. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the popular viral campaigns last year,reeling in $100 million to the ALS Association alone along with some funds to other ALS-related charities. Despite many suspecting that the initiative would retain less than 30% of the new donors, especially since this segment of donors is known for extremely low retention rates, it secured over three million donors or leads.

Social media had a major role in turning the Ice Bucket Challenge into a success. The New York Times reported that 1.2 million videos were shared between June 1 and August 13 whereas mentions on Twitter reached 2.2 million times by August 17. This popularity also brought the disease into the light, driving traffic to the English Wikipedia post on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from 163,300 views per month to 2.89 million by August 2014.


As you can see from this example, you can certainly take advantage of social media to generate leads for your nonprofit. To truly make your efforts worthwhile, use the following five tips to drive donations:

1. Turn Your Twitter Feed into a News Bulletin

Twitter is considered a reliable news sources for today’s online community. In fact, Pew Research Center reports that 39% of users believe that news-related tweets are materials they wouldn’t read about elsewhere. Therefore, you can use your Twitter account as a bulletin and have influential members of the non-profit like the CEO report exciting happenings from volunteer sites or their offices. Don’t rely on your newsletter alone to update your donors (though you should definitely have a good newsletter as well!).

Another way to generate leads (and donations) is by adding links to the donation landing page and tracking leads. Every time a donor contributes, you can tweet back at them and explain how they made a difference to your organization and the cause it supports. New York based Charity Water, which aims at providing clean drinking water to different countries, practices this technique to encourage people to continue donating and urge their followers to follow their lead.

2. Use Facebook to Tell a Story

Storytelling is one of the priorities of non-profit marketers in 2015; the Content Marketing Institute reports that 66% of those surveyed are honing their storytelling skills to attract more donors and make non-profits’ brands true to the causes they support. Facebook is one of the best social networks for this important technique, a fact proved by Make-A-Wish Foundation. The non-profit’s Facebook page has different pictures, names and stories of those whom the foundation has helped. By reading these, donors are moved and feel motivated to comment, like and share different posts. As a result, they influence others in addition to making donations.


With Facebook introducing the new pinning feature to its Timeline, you can even pick the most moving post (based on the likes and shares) and feature it as the inspirational story of the week for instance. This will show up the minute leads visit your social networking site, ensuring maximum visibility.

3. Pin Stories Up on Pinterest

Shareaholic reports that 21% of users have followed through with their purchases after discovering them via Pinterest. Non-profits can tap into this advantage as well by using Pinterest to showcase their efforts and how donors’ contributions make a difference. Habitat for Humanity is constantly putting up pictures of volunteers as they carry out the company’s mission. The non-profit also has boards for country-wide movements and future volunteer opportunities.

4. Let Users Send You THEIR YouTube Videos

Though not a non-profit, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is a great example of using YouTube to generate leads. The company asked women to upload what they believed is real beauty before selecting six to participate in its national campaign. While your aim will revolve around the charity’s needs, the goals of your campaign will be the same: to inspire people to become actively involved through user-generated content. You can have people send you their videos as well, controlling the quality of the content you showcase and capturing email addresses to nurture leads in the future.


5. Host Contests to Boost Interaction Levels

By hosting a social networking content, you combine people’s love for competition, prizes and social media. You can have leads create videos on YouTube, tweet the most using a certain hashtag or get the most repins for an inspirational image they posted. In return, you can arrange for a donation in their name. Another way to go around this is by having participants raise funds and giving them a small token of your appreciation both virtually and in real life.

Technique 2: Opt for “Fat Content” to Influence Donors

Online users are nicknamed as Generation C (Content) because they process and produce a lot of content. Because of the shift in trends, smart shoppers and smart donors need to find out about your cause and learn about your organization. This is where ‘fat’ content comes in the picture. Expected to be the focus of marketers everywhere in 2015, “fat” content targets sophisticated users, offering them detailed information rather than snippets.

For this year, focus your efforts on the following three types of ‘fat’ content:

1) White Papers

White papers are effective content marketing tools regardless of whether they are a few pages or hundreds of pages. Conventionally authoritative, formal documents, white papers are perfect for reaching out to donors who may not have otherwise known about your non-profit or what it does. You can also use the information they provide as an incentive for others to sign up for your email list.

2) eBooks

eBooks have grown critical to any content strategy because they educate leads, show them your thought leadership, and allow you to get leads through the sales funnel. However, the key is not to make them product-focused or fully text-based. You should focus on delivering interesting content which will highlight the cause and influence people to donate. For instance, you can pen an eBook on the current environmental risks to have donors contribute to protecting the environment.

3) Case Studies

According to U.K. marketers surveyed by the Content Marketing Institute, case studies are the fifth most popular marketing tactic. 63% have even pointed out that this form of ‘fat’ content is very effective. You can use a case study to highlight how your organization has helped different people with the help of donations. Just make sure to state the numbers clearly since smart donors will need proof. And before you try finding an excuse to avoid putting together a case study, here’s the biggest benefit marketers reap: you can create different content formats from a single case study. For instance, you can come up with blog posts and videos which complement the purpose of your study to make it viral. You can even sneak it in your signature at the end of your newsletter to drive traffic to your non-profit’s website.

Technique 3: Embrace Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

One of the best methods to be visible on your prospects’ radar is having direct control over the keywords you want your potential donors to find you by. This is possible through PPC advertising, which allows you to buy your way into search results for keywords relevant to the non-profit you’re promoting. In addition to being an excellent lead generation technique, PPC offers marketers a number of perks, including affordable advertising and trackable and measurable results.


Google’s PPC advertising, a.k.a. Adwords, is the most popular and affordable. It allows you to control the costsyourself while providing an advertising template for online ads. Therefore, you’ll be getting two services for the cost of one. However, you can reduce the costs you incur by opting for Google Grants, an online advertising account that’s especially made for non-profit organizations. Through this program, you can advertise for free to reach out to potential donors, publicize fundraisers, and initiate recruitment programs. Though you’ll still need to purchase keywords, companies with a 501 (c) (3) status will receive an equivalent of $300 to $10,000 advertising per month. There are some limitations as well, so find out about these beforehand.

If you decide to go for Google Grants, here are five tips which can help you make this option a lead magnet.

1. Have a Separate Campaign for Each Project

Non-profits handling different projects should have 15-30 similar keywords that align to a specific page on your site. The more focused this group is, the better your ad targeting will be. So, create a robust keyword list which you know users will respond to. You can include problem and solution oriented keywords as well as service terms and variations of the brand. If you don’t know how to handle this aspect, you can use the keyword research tool to find out keywords that provide the best results and higher ranks in Google.

2. Connect Visitors to the Most Relevant Page on Your Website

Before creating your ads, take a look at all your non-profit’s blog posts, landing pages, and annual reports. This will help you connect those clicking your ad to the pages most relevant to their search queries. As a result, your landing page’s conversion rate will increase while its bounce rate will reduce.

3. Create an Effective Copy

In order for your messages to generate the effect you want, you should offer different variations of your ads. For instance, in addition to featuring high-level language to attract older donors, you should choose words geared towards savvy users. So create 3-4 variations of your ads and see which one performs the best.

4. Keep Forms Short

If your ads send your prospective donors to a landing page, make sure that your subscription and contact forms are short. Stick to the information you actually need and avoid asking for fields such as phone number and address at this early point in the relationship. Don’t require such fields so early since they can affect your submission rate.

5. Send Visitors to Targeted Landing Pages

Most novice marketers make the mistake of leading visitors to their home pages. However, you should be focusing on directing visitors to pages relevant to the ad itself. Take Futures Without Violence for instance. While its homepage conversion rate is 0%, the ad that led to a targeted landing page ensured a 12.59% conversion rate or 1,000 new email addresses.

Technique 4: Create Microsites

Microsites are mini-websites, generally two to four pages, which focus on a certain topic or campaign. When marketed via social media, microsites reach more people more quickly than a traditional website. Besides, microsites are great for non-profits since they are the most powerful storytelling tools for fundraisers. Furthermore, they can mobilize your base and serve as a starting point to engage people in social media conversations.

One of the best examples of microsites is, which belongs to privately-funded Covenant House. The microsite digs deep into the issue of domestic child trafficking despite the fact that the agency itself specializes in providing food, shelter, care and services to homeless and at-risk children. It also allows the organization to raise awareness of the problem affecting thousands of children annually and provides an urgent call to action. By adding information, bold statistics, and graphics to engage the audience and highlight the fact that human trafficking is practiced on American soil as well.

Technique 5: Add Quizzes to Your Sign-Up Page

To collect email addresses, you need an attractive value proposition. One of the most popular lead generation techniques these days is tests and quizzes. People are drawn to them and almost ready to pay to take one of these tests. While some target people at the present, some visitors may take them for fun while others subconsciously aim to discover something magical.

A good example is that of The One Question (T1Q). Designed to help people find their purpose in life, T1Q used to have a typical capture form which managed a 1% conversion rate. However, when the site decided to offer the self-reflective Life Purpose test, it managed to get around 100 people a day on its mailing list, or the equivalent of 1900%. In addition to offering a free test, this test solves a problem which visitors have, making it more attractive. In addition, the keywords used for naming the test ensure that it gets the target audience it aims at.

Though most marketers believe nonprofits to be the most complex clients, using these five lead generation techniques for non-profits bring success a little closer. This doesn’t mean that you have less work ahead of you. So be prepared to work hard to ensure that your non-profit clientele manage to gain the funds they need to help others and ensure their wellbeing.

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