Nonprofit Marketing Funnel? Yes, It’s Real and You Should Use One

Nonprofit Marketing Funnel? Yes, It’s Real and You Should Use One

Written by Karen Carps

June 10, 2021

We’ve talked a lot recently about marketing funnels. I actually thought that the most recent post would be the last in the series, but I changed my mind. I got to thinking (scary, I know)… what about nonprofits? The rest of the posts in the series focused on marketing products or services. Can nonprofit organizations use funnels? They absolutely can and should. So let’s dive in and discuss the nonprofit marketing funnel.

The Story Behind this Post

So what caused me to start thinking about the nonprofit marketing funnel? Oddly enough, I was talking to someone at church. This gentleman had transferred here from Washington, DC through the military. Since he had obviously moved around a lot, I asked him how he found our church, or really any church in a new place. His answer? Google.

Then he went on to say that he and his wife always research potential churches before they make a move. In many cases, the new location is too far away to visit, so they rely on the church’s web presence to find out more about it. He actually said, “If a church doesn’t have a website to check out, we don’t even consider it.” He said they just don’t have time to visit every single church without first vetting them online. It honestly reminded me a lot of this post, in which I talked about how businesses who think they save money by not having a website (or having a cheap, poorly done one) actually hurt themselves and lose revenue. At the very least, he wanted a church that advertised its service times online.

Once he looks at the website and sees the type of church, location, and all that, he checks out the church’s social media accounts. Are they active? What kinds of activities do they have going on? In this case, NOT having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is a deterrent for him. Having one but leaving it abandoned has almost the same effect and brings your credibility and dedication to your message into question.

The Nonprofit Marketing Funnel

Most of my other posts have focused on the digital marketing aspect of a marketing funnel. In some cases, however, parts of the funnel occur in person. With my new friend at church, for example, he started the funnel online and moved through it in person. The top, or awareness stage, happened online with Google. He further engaged toward the middle of the funnel on the website and via social media. The bottom of the funnel occurs either in person or by attending an online service.

Let’s review the parts of the funnel. The top involves awareness, the middle has engagement, and the bottom is where the user completes a transaction and becomes a repeat supporter. Oftentimes, the person also becomes a brand evangelist at the bottom, talking about your organization to others. I love the way the marketer in this post explains it.

nonprofit marketing funnel

Top of Nonprofit Funnel

In the top of a for-profit funnel, you have someone who hasn’t heard of your brand or product. Similarly, someone at the top of a nonprofit funnel does not know about you or support your cause. Your goal here is to make them aware of the fact that you exist and to show them the cause you want to advance. Like the church example above, you do this by having a strong web presence and allowing people to find you on Google. Effective SEO helps with this. Here are some other ways to build awareness of your mission:

  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Ads
  • Brochures

Middle of Nonprofit Funnel

Once you raise awareness about your organization and its mission, you want people to engage with you. How do you do this? You can assume that anyone who gives you their contact information has advanced to the middle of your funnel. How do you make that happen? Check out these suggestions:

  • Blog Subscriptions
  • Petitions
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters
  • Speaking Engagements

Bottom of Funnel

What constitutes the bottom of your funnel? Well, that depends. What main goal do you want people to complete? What does a “win” look like for your organization? In some cases, it would involve a monetary donation. In others, such as a church setting, it could be having the person take the next step in engaging with the organization. Success at the bottom of the nonprofit funnel looks different for every organization.

Since the very bottom of the funnel is also comprised of retention, what does that look like? The church’s goal for this point could be having the person become a member/regular attender or signing up for a small group. Other organizations may define retention as someone who regularly shares its message, becomes a recurring donor, or volunteers at an event.

Everybody Has A Marketing Funnel

Yes, that means everyone. Regardless of whether you have a for-profit business or a nonprofit organization, you have a marketing funnel. Is it effective? Well, that’s a different story. At some point, people become aware of you, engage with you, and then choose whether or not to complete the goal. Here’s the real question… how intentional are you about your funnel? Have you customized it based on different personas? Or does everything just happen by chance? Maybe you should set aside time to evaluate your funnel and see where people “leak” out of it. So patch those leaks, and keep swimming along!

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