The face of the nonprofit constituency is changing. As Millennials move from volunteer to donor, Generation Z is right behind them. While these younger members of your constituency may bring new energy and new ideas, they also bring the NOW Effect: information must be mobile, transparent, factual and delivered in real-time. This generational shift is not just bringing new demands to the table, those demands are requiring a whole new set of tools that nonprofit marketers will need in order to succeed and thrive in the modern era of NPOs and associations.

The Left Brain Meets the Right Brain

While marketers in the past could be analytical or creative, the modern demands on the NPO marketer mean having an intellectual ambidexterity that hasn’t existed before. Online giving grew by 12.1% in 2017 and is projected to grow in 2018 and 2019, and the face of the donor may be younger than you think. While 11% of total US giving came from Millennials last year, 59% of Generation Z donated based on a message or image that they saw on social. Not only are young people more aware of issues, but they’re more willing to donate both their time and money to the causes that speak to them.

These younger audiences spend upwards of 10 hours a day consuming content. This means two things:

  1. In order to stand out, your campaigns must be targeted.
  2. In order to convert, your campaigns must be interesting.

While a simple “Please give” CTA may have sufficed in the past, digital audiences are far savvier and more educated. They want to know who your organization is, where their donation will go, what their donation will do to help, and why they should give their time and monetary donations to you instead of the one of the other 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the US.

Right Brain: The Artist

With the rise of the educated donor, strategy and creativity must collide in a big way. By creating interesting, beautiful and highly targeted content, you can reach the right people at the right time. However, it’s crucial to remember: your content is one in a sea of other messages, so your messaging must be relevant as well as creative.

Creative marketing includes the following disciplines that you’ll need to reach the new, digitally-savvy market:

Email Marketing

The NOW effect isn’t just about text messages—Millennials actually prefer their communication through email. With that in mind, creating beautiful and engaging email marketing campaigns that speak to your target audience can help you educate and convert right from their inbox.

Content Marketing

Blogs, testimonials, white papers—whatever you create should tell a story and urge an action. Let your content be the soul of your creative strategy: use different writers to present different perspectives, let people share their stories. This type of authenticity appeals to demographics of all ages.

Social Media Marketing

Despite many pronouncements to the contrary, social media is not dead. In fact, more and more users are logging in and staying logged in—consuming content across multiple platforms for up to 10 hours a day. New social algorithms are putting content with lots of organic engagement at the forefront so be creative with your messaging and encourage users to share their stories on your page and share your posts.

Visual Content

Video and images are shared more than text (40% more, actually), so make sure you have striking imagery and video content for users to share to increase your organic reach and engagement rates. This means your content can reach more people in more corners of the world than ever before.

Left Brain: The Scientist

Every great artist knows that creativity is not the only part of inspiration—strategy, data, planning and intent can take something beautiful and make it successful. Here are some of the more analytical disciplines you’ll need:

Performance tracking

Simply launching a campaign and hoping it will do well is not an option. Using tools to help you track your performance ensures you’re on the right track and allows you to troubleshoot and optimize if you’re not.


Organizing your growing constituency is no easy task. Without the aid of a CRM, keeping track of who is who and what they are doing becomes almost impossible. Wasting both time and money organizing contacts and prospective members mean less time and money spent on new programs and campaigns.


Proving the ROI on activities is a major pain point for a lot of NPOs and associations. A gut feeling is not an acceptable metric for success and so having an analytics tool to help you track success is critical.

Campaign Tracking

Speaking of tracking success—do you know how your campaigns or performing? Workflows, drip campaigns, pay-per-click, paid social—how are all of your tactics not only performing as individuals but how are they performing together? Tracking the performance of your campaigns is crucial—not just for tracking the success of today but for planning the growth of tomorrow.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? We’ve created an infographic to help demonstrate what you need to do and where you need to focus to create a truly data-driven and captivating marketing campaign.

Nonprofit Marketers are both artists and scientists