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We’re at that point where we should reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new trends as we finetune our digital marketing strategies. In any other year, you’d all be nodding along in agreement with me. But this year, aren’t planning and predictions so 2019? Nope. 

The nonprofit industry (and the world) was flipped turned upside down by COVID-19, among other things. While this might make predicting marketing trends for nonprofits a little different, the rapid changes have had a few months to settle. 

Here are the top trends for nonprofit marketing in 2021.

Virtual Events are Sticking Around

Arguably the biggest impact COVID had on the nonprofit industry was having to cancel so many in-person fundraising events. However, the response was an explosion of virtual events, and pretty successful ones. Charitable giving has actually gone up in 2020, showing that the resilient and hopeful energy the nonprofit industry presented was matched by their generous donors. Even more inspirational is the fact that these successful virtual fundraisers were organized sometimes in a matter of days. 

Now imagine how impactful virtual fundraising events could be without the panic and sudden pivoting. I know, I know. We all want to get back to good old-fashioned in-person events. But the truth is that virtual events existed before the pandemic, and there are a lot of benefits to them that won’t make them obsolete after the pandemic.

  • Frees the speakers and guests from geographic limitations
  • Reduces big event costs, like venues and refreshments
  • Lower barrier to entry for guests by being less time-consuming

Check out this Virtual Events Toolkit for great info on how you can make the most of every 2021 fundraising event.

Engaging Volunteers is Back on the Radar

Marketing trends of nonprofits are geared towards engagement, and nonprofits need to make sure they are engaging both donors AND volunteers in 2021. The latter has been significantly harder with so many in-person events cancelled and restrictions placed on gatherings. In some cases, there hasn’t been as much of a need for on-site volunteers. But since volunteers statistically become your most loyal donors, it is vital that you engage them, even through the screen.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

Virtual Tours

Offer virtual tours to introduce future volunteers to the facility and types of opportunities available.

Meet & Greets

Hold meet & greets to introduce them to the staff and the impact of the organization.

Live Streaming

Live stream to thank past volunteers publicly for their donation of their time.

Gen Z Has Arrived

We already mentioned that charitable giving is up in 2020 thanks to so many donors rallying around those in need. But it’s worth giving a shout out to Generation Z. 

Gen Z refers to those born in 1996 and after, meaning its oldest members are celebrating their 25th birthday this year. Not only is that the perfect age to become regular donors to charitable organizations, social scientists are saying that this is the most socially conscious generation yet. 

This generation has the ability to make a tangible difference in your nonprofit. Prove to them that your impact is necessary, and they are more likely to become loyal donors. Keep them engaged, and you could be strengthening a relationship that will last decades. So while we are listing this as one of the marketing trends for nonprofits in 2021, this one plays the long game well past the next year.

New Market Channels are Emerging

The new market channels you need to access will include short, succinct statements full of value. A good chunk will be video-based. And they will likely be created for… guessed it, Gen Z.

You have to meet your potential donors on their turf. You might need to step up your social presence on established platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but don’t be afraid to venture into the new trending channels as well.


Instagram officially has more than 1 billion active users as of 2020. It is no longer a fad you can ignore.


TikTok has well over 100 million active users, and is rapidly growing, despite its controversial headlines.


Texts from businesses and nonprofits are no longer taboo. SMS marketing is creeping up on email marketing, especially with Generous Gen Z.

As you venture into these other social realms, remember that your website is still your homebase on the internet. All other channels will link back to your website, so while you gotta get on that Insta, make sure the visitors are landing on an equally awesome website when they are digging for more information.

Audience Segmentation is Essential to Email Marketing

Email marketing, am I right? It continues to be one of the foundational ways to communicate with your audience, and in many cases, the most effective. Even so, every year we look for the “next big thing” that is going to replace email, and it never comes. This year is no different. But 2021 could be the year that truly separates the good email marketers from the bad with….dun dun dun…. Audience Segmentation.

Gone are the days of pushing “send” to your entire database. Breaking up your giant list of emails into 2 or 3 medium-sized lists isn’t even good enough anymore. With more than 300 billion emails being sent every day, that’s one way to get lost in all the noise. 

Instead, personalize the emails. Take a look at your database and see how you can segment your audience. Go beyond “Donors” and “Volunteers.” Even try venturing past the safety of “recurring” or “non-recurring” donors. Find similar demographics that can help further segment the lists.

Find out what drives them to donate or volunteer, and cater the message to them.

Are you a local nonprofit that can break it down by neighborhood?

Do you have volunteers that specifically help with one service outline in your mission?

Can you narrow it down to age or referral source or even their career industry?

Donating Should be Quick and Easy

Donors expect it to be easy to make a contribution. They deserve to have it be easy. So this year, you should be thinking about how you can streamline the process without sacrificing connection.

There have been many improvements on platforms that younger donors are already on:

Social Buttons

Facebook now offers a “donate” button without even leaving the platform.

One Click

One-click opportunities that utilize PayPal and Apple Pay keep it familiar.


75% of people are no longer against communicating with organizations via text.

While you should take advantage of these opportunities that are already available, think about your donors and your mission. How can you meet your donors where they are comfortable and enable them to make a donation in under a minute? And even better – how can you elicit an emotional connection that quickly as well?

Are you ready for 2021?

If there is one thing we learned in 2020, it is that we have to be ready to pivot on a dime. But you can enter 2021 with a strong framework that will allow your marketing strategy to withstand whatever this next year throws at us. 

Fortunately, you’re not alone. The right web agency can make a world of difference in bringing your ideas to life, or helping you come up with the ideas. At the risk of sounding cliche – we have our finger on the pulse of marketing trends for nonprofits in 2021. Contact Mittun to learn more about our expertise in nonprofit digital marketing, and let’s work together to help your organization thrive.

Is your website ready for your 2021 digital marketing strategy?

Contact Mittun for a free assessment today.

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