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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Evaluating Nonprofit Digital Marketing Tools

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog and is posted with permission from Sarah Braker with Firefly Partners.

All you have to do is google ‘nonprofit marketing tools,’ to see that there are many options to choose from. Because of this, identifying the right web, email, and fundraising tools for your nonprofit can be overwhelming. If you think your organization is ready to evaluate what’s out there, here are a few things to consider during the process.

Research And Understanding

To really know where you’re going, you need a clear picture of where you’re starting. We recommend beginning with an audit of every tool you currently use, how they are used, and if or how they work together. This is also the right time to talk to your team and find out who uses which tools to accomplish various tasks, and what the highs and lows are.

Questions to ask:

What features of your email tool does your communications team not want to lose? What is the most frustrating pain point for your development team? What kind of tool connectivity would help everyone on your staff feel more effective?

Defining The Future

To help you zero in on which tools to consider, you also have to know what you want. We suggest splitting your needs into groups based on the functionality you must have, and features that would be nice to have but you can live without if necessary. This is also the right time to consider your capacity, both in terms of staff time and budget. Different tools require different financial commitments, and the time it takes to get up and running varies greatly. Understanding how your team will be structured after the new tool is in place can help you focus on options that fit with the resources you have to commit.

Questions to ask:

What’s your blue-sky vision for your organization if you have all the right tools in place? What’s the preferred payment structure (monthly subscription vs. annual)? Who on your staff can be the internal leader for the switch, and when is the best time for them to take that on?

Test Driving

Now that you’ve defined your obstacles and understand your needs, it’s time to get a feel for your options. A benefit of having a team like Firefly on board as your partner is that we are experts in the latest and greatest tools available and can steer you toward those that are the best fit. Setting up demonstrations of each tool you are considering and asking lots of questions will give you a helpful side-by-side comparison. During these walk throughs it’s important to share real-life examples of when your current tools were not sufficient, and to communicate your aspirations.

Questions to ask:

How can each tool solve your most common problems? What separates one tool from its competitors? What type of support for users does the tool provide?

Making A Choice

After you’ve seen everything in action, there are a few processes that can help you make your choice. One suggestion is to find folks at other nonprofits who currently use the tools you are considering and holding brief informational phone calls to find out what it’s like for them day-to-day. (Again, Firefly can easily make these connections for you). We also recommend revisiting the ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ lists you prepared earlier in the process. This helps you further focus on which tool or tools get you closest to that ideal scenario. As you give final consideration to each option, make a pros and cons list. In the unlikely event that there’s a tool that has no cons, the choice will be easy. Otherwise, you’ll want to consider any functionality, financial, or capacity concerns and what you can or cannot live with.

Questions to ask:

Can we afford this tool both from a dollar and a time commitment perspective? Will this tool help us reach more people and get us closer to our goals? What is involved in the migration and set-up process?

One of our areas of expertise at Firefly Partners is guiding organizations through the tool selection process. We serve as an advocate for your best interests and we don’t prefer one platform over another. We simply work with you to make evaluation and selection an accessible and achievable process. If you think your organization might be ready for a new digital marketing tool, and don’t know where to start, reach out to us today.



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