3 Inspirational Digital Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from Non-Profits

Lizzys Non Profit Post
Lizzy Michan
March 24, 2017

Non-profits might not seem like a beacon of digital marketing inspiration—but inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. Over the past few months, non-profits have pushed their marketing efforts into high gear. And we’re taking notice.

This past January, when the Trump administration issued the controversial Muslim ban executive order, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised over $24 million during the weekend of January 28th. This astounding bump in donations speaks to the online presence the ACLU has garnered since the election.

Another non-profit that has seen tremendous support following the election is Planned Parenthood, which has received over 400,000 donations after Trump was elected.

But what does this have to do with digital marketing? It turns out that other businesses can learn a thing or two from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood’s marketing strategies. Here are 3 lessons you can take to heart. 


Lesson #1: Powerful call-to-actions make a difference

Non-profits quickly harnessed the increased attention they were receiving and turned that attention into something tangible.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood launched display advertising campaigns that directly or indirectly addressed the public discourse. Not only are the ads topical, but their call-to-actions are powerfully resonant.


Planned Parenthood display ad

ACLU Display Ad


These display ads use words and images that identify strongly with the message of non-profits during a Trump era. CTA’s like “Give Now” and “Add My Name” provide a sense of urgency and the feeling of joining a movement.

So what does this mean for your ad campaigns? Always remember to have a message that aligns with what’s important to your audience. Include CTA’s that feel personal, pressing, and clearly state what your desired outcome is.


Lesson #2: Establish a strong social media presence

Planned Parenthood’s page is flooded with posts about women’s reproductive rights, compelling stories about women they provide for, and who would be in jeopardy if the government defunded Planned Parenthood. These compelling stories help Planned Parenthood connect with their consumers in a way that once was not possible. This type of engagement leads to more brand awareness for those on Facebook on what this organization actually does day-to-day.

This type of social media presence brings a unique brand awareness to consumers that every business could benefit from. After all, connecting with your audience strengthens your brand and grows your following.

The ACLU recently used Facebook Live during the January travel ban to help people all around the world see the work they were doing to help people in airports. Using the Facebook Live tool specifically allowed the ACLU to keep their base informed and engaged.

Facebook Live is a relatively new component of Facebook that brands are still figuring out. Take a page from the ACLU’s book and just try it out. You might find that it makes sense for your organization.  


Lesson #3: Brand advocacy matters

In addition to display advertising and social media platforms, these organizations have been strongly advocated by celebrities. At the 2017 Oscars, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebrities wore ACLU blue ribbons while La-La Land actress Emma Stone wore a pink Planned Parenthood pin on her dress.

This increased support from celebrities has given these organizations more recognition and attention throughout the past several months. Even if you’re a smaller business, it’s still important to remember the value of people advocating for your brand. A positive tweet from a happy customer can go a long way.


Thanks to the nimble marketing and branding efforts from non-profits, we’ve gotten some newfound digital marketing motivation. 

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