In the Key of Inbound

Nonprofit Marketing: A Beginner's Guide to the Funnel

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 18, 2015 10:00:00 AM / by Matt Jacoby

Nonprofit Marketing: A Beginner's Guide to the FunnelThe marketing funnel. If you’ve ever taken a marketing or sales course of any shape or size, you’ve most likely heard of it.

But just in case you’ve forgotten what it is and how it works, here’s a quick reminder: The marketing funnel is a system that helps track the stages that consumers, aka potential donors, move through to eventually make a buying/donation decision. It also lets you know what your organization needs to do to help influence these potential donors at each stage.


The Nonprofit Marketing Funnel

The typical, most recognized funnel stages in marketing are awareness, interest, desire and action. For a nonprofit, the stages look just slightly different. From broadest to most narrow, a typical funnel for a nonprofit includes consideration, preference, action, loyalty and advocacy.

The goal: move your potential donors through the stages of the funnel.


What Does Each Stage Mean?

CONSIDERATION: In the consideration stage, a potential donor has done their research, has asked the right questions but is still very much in the decision-making mode.

PREFERENCE: In the preference stage, the donor has narrowed down their options and is close to making a choice.

ACTION: In the action stage, a choice is made and a donation happens.

LOYALTY: In the loyalty stage, you’ve done what it takes to maintain a long-term relationship.

ADVOCACY: Finally, in the advocacy stage, the donor is spreading the word for your organization, and introducing new donors to your organization. And the marketing funnel begins again.


Technology's Impact on the Funnel

Although the funnel offers a good basic model, it’s important to be aware of how technology has altered the donor’s journey. Today’s consumers are more informed, more connected, and more empowered than ever. So much of the research is done online, rather than relying on a company's traditional marketing activities to guide them through the funnel stages. This means donors enter the funnel at a point where they are more prepared to make a final decision. It also means your nonprofit needs to provide more information online, such as an up-to-date website, product content and purchase reviews.


Change the World through Education

When it comes to attracting new donors, it’s important to understand that consumers aren’t necessarily searching for a nonprofit to donate to, they’re searching for answers to questions, like: What are early signs of alzheimer’s? How can I feed a family of five for under $10 without sacrificing nutrition?

That means making your content educational will give you a much greater chance of attracting potential donors to your organization’s website. Once they’re there, your existing cultivation content can kick in and hopefully convert them into loyal donors, ready and willing to become ongoing advocates.


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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing

Matt Jacoby

Written by Matt Jacoby

Matt is the owner of Octave Media, has been developing websites for 20+ years and helping businesses grow online with inbound marketing for 4 years. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two boys. Long walks on the beach aren't half bad either.