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Nonprofit Marketing Tips

For Increased Donations

April 9, 2020

How Programmatic Digital Advertising Creates Success

Marketing in the not-for-profit sector brings different challenges and requirements. Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs) need incredible efficiency to ensure every dollar they spend reaches the right audiences to deliver success (donations or event sign-ups, etc.). They need to minimize waste and increase response rates.

It’s a new world of limited personal interaction and an increased reliance on digital delivery. Want to learn how to increase your donations without traditional donor and event fundraising efforts? It’s all about programmatic digital ads. Let’s explain.


AMF Media Group’s deep experience with NPO marketing comes from supporting fundraising efforts for social services, alumni groups, private schools and colleges/universities, home lottery programs and arts gala campaigns, among others. Using a blend of programmatic, data-focused and organic optimization strategies, our aim is to provide you some insight into how the new capabilities of today’s advertising world can benefit you directly and immediately.

Programmatic digital marketing means marketing online to the exact people you wish to engage. This is different from the traditional “spray and pray” model of online marketing where you put your content on a random mix of websites and hope the right person saw it. Programmatic digital marketing is a highly effective and trackable strategy. These campaigns are data-focused, which means you continually collect information about the people who have seen your ads and taken action (i.e.: made a donation, requested more information, become a member, etc.). Optimization means you use that insight to reach other potential donors faster and with a greater chance of them actually giving to your organization.

In a bit more detail, programmatic digital advertising plugs audience information, insights, data, targeting and optimization into a mathematical algorithm machine that makes tens of thousands of ad placement decisions in real time. In AMF’s case, a human team highly proficient in trading programmatic, real-time bidding advertising inventory aids the technology. Have you ever searched for something online, and then started seeing ads for that product (or a competitor’s version)? Have you noticed an increase in the number of ads that appear more relevant to your personal tastes or interests when reading content or social sites, or maybe some messages sent back to you after visiting a site you may not have ended up buying from? That’s programmatic advertising.

Using our initially collected insights from you, plus any additional assets we can work with (email lists, etc.), we align goals and objectives to identify the consumers who are the initial “best fits” to connect with and serve ads.

Over time, ongoing development of site visitor and actual conversion data then empowers our system to be even more efficient. Your advertising investment can remain stable, while your performance increases and the average cost to acquire and convert each lead can begin to diminish. With less money, you can get better results — targeting the people most likely to be interested in donating to your nonprofit.

Here is how audience targeting works in general terms:

Audience Prospecting. We start by reaching out to audiences believed to be best suited to receive your messages. Then, we study who responds to what ads, on what sites, from what devices and in which markets. We optimize the campaign from that information.

Retargeting Audiences. People who recently visited your site but did not donate become strong opportunities to keep your NPO top-of-mind. Retargeting, or serving them with a reminder ad, can be incredibly effective. Often, it takes someone up to two weeks to research a cause before donating. A study by Google and Millward Brown found that 75% of donors turn to online resources to look for information, and 76% of donors go online to research less than a week after viewing an ad. Retargeting becomes critical to reconnect with those who showed interest and are more likely to donate once finishing their research.

Lookalike Audiences. Once enough information has been gathered based on your previous and current donation conversions, we deploy a tactic of creating lookalike audiences or profiles. This allows the system to find new people acting or showing similar behaviors to your current or desired donors. This opens tremendous reach potential across many more markets, driving incredible efficiencies and results.


In addition to understanding who will see your ads, it’s also necessary to decide what types of ads (and what platforms) will be the most beneficial places to promote your nonprofit. 

Video ads are a highly effective method in today’s times. The current economic environment is very challenging, but with audience masses now required to stay home, patterns of media consumption are changing dramatically. Consumption on YouTube and Connected-TV (where a large screen TV is connected to the Internet directly or via a set-top box such as Roku, AppleTV or Chromecast, to access apps such as Hulu, Disney+, etc.) is exploding. Nielsen reported that consumers watched more than 156 billion minutes of streaming content during the week of March 16, doubling the amount from the same week in 2019. This represents a tremendous way to tell your story to consumers heavily engaging in video-based content.

Streaming audio ads on apps like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio have surged in recent times. These platforms replaced radio’s heaviest usage peaks during morning and afternoon rush hours. They also have the added value of reaching logged in users based on their specific locations and interests.

Display ads are graphics and messages that appear on a website in a variety of forms (such as banners or pop-ups). They allow your NPO to access 90% of internet consumers across content sites like news, entertainment or mobile apps where gaming and video use are also skyrocketing.

Native ads look like news content on a website and appear like they are part of the page. Sometimes they will say “sponsored” very small, but otherwise, they look integrated. These non-intrusive ad spots allow for longer headlines or initial information that aligns with the reader’s interests and current reading experience.


When initially planning for NPO marketing campaigns, AMF still begins with the tried-and-true process of information collection. Every NPO will have unique challenges, opportunities, goals and audience connection requirements. It’s important to first understand:

  • What is your NPO trying to do (raise funds/how much; recruit volunteers/how many; etc.)?
  • Is there a cause that your NPO is trying to increase awareness of?
  • Do you know which consumers are the most relevant and should be reached first?
  • How will success be measured?
  • What has worked well in the past and what has not?

Taking this information, we create a story, design creative concepts, develop digital tactics and supportive tools to ensure everything flows within the overall marketing strategy and brand.

Conducting a web audit is also an important part in the setup of any nonprofit campaign. It is critical to determine if your website is optimized, so that it can be found by search engines. We need to assess its ability to support and complement your marketing investment. A comprehensive web audit will also make sure the content on your website is aligned with the content in your advertisements to make sure the message is consistent and easily actionable.


By applying today’s advertising technology advancements, combined with an understanding of where audiences are focusing their time, you can ensure your messages are seen and are effective in securing donations.

AMF Media Group, a full-service, highly efficient and responsive marketing and PR agency with a team of leading-edge digital strategy experts, helps find your ideal audiences across any device or experience, and then aggregate the information into a data management system to drive some really exciting results. Should you wish to investigate these strategies in greater detail, please reach to AMF Media Group at any time.