How much should your nonprofit spend on digital advertising? Better yet, what type of digital advertising should your nonprofit spend money on?

These are the questions your nonprofit should be asking because nonprofit online revenue increased a whopping 19% from 2014 to 2015, according to The M+R 2015 Benchmark Study. That’s right; a 19% increase in nonprofit online revenue.

Clearly, your nonprofit should be looking into ways to tap this revenue stream if it isn’t already. But where should your nonprofit start? Admittedly, there’s hundreds of platforms to choose from and dozens of digital advertising mediums from email campaigns to pay-per-click.

The options can make even the most skilled of digital strategists dizzy. Furthermore, how can a nonprofit cut through the online noise and connect with your nonprofit’s targeted donor base?

These are heady questions and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your nonprofit’s future depends on making the right decisions.

Digital Advertising Benefits

What is obvious are the benefits that can be realized with an effective digital advertising strategy.

That same M+R 2015 Benchmark Study found that nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online in 2015. This number does vary by nonprofit sector as the graph below illustrates.


The potential return on digital advertising by a nonprofit can be resounding and have a dramatic effect a nonprofit’s operations. But how are nonprofits allocating their budgets in regard to digital advertising?

Digital Advertising Channels

The graphic below shows the percentages of nonprofit digital advertising budgets.


  • Lead generation consists largely of acquiring names, email and addresses. These efforts can prove to be especially valuable as a nonprofit can repeatedly touch that individual (until they get a new email address).
  • New donation acquisition consists of digital advertising that appeals directly for donations. This type of advertising can prove especially difficult as many people prefer some level of familiarity with a nonprofit before they decide to open their wallets.
  • Paid Search Advertising leverages social media or search networks to display target ads. This type of advertising is the most flexible in terms of strategic initiatives. While paid search advertising can be expensive for a novice, it’s best to hire a qualified specialist who can deliver a return on your paid search advertising budget.
  • Branding digital advertising is also known in the context of ‘impressions’ or how many times your brand’s advertisement is displayed to internet users. While a nonprofit can reach 100,000s of people around the globe in a short time period, measuring the return is difficult.
  • Lastly, existing supporter conversion leverages hidden tracking technology, also known as ‘cookies’ to follow your donors around the web and repeatedly placing an advertisement in front of them. While this sounds creepy, the fact is that it’s been happening for a long time, many sites are now disclosing such action and people are becoming comfortable (to a certain degree).

The benefits of digital advertising for a nonprofit are obvious. The donors of the world are giving online and at an accelerating rate. Your nonprofit must tap this burgeoning fundraising tool.

Knowing where to start is an entirely different question and one that a professional nonprofit digital agency can guide your through.