10 tips for Recession-Proofing Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Marketing Professional working on a marketing plan, sitting at a desk with books, a laptop, plant and headphones. They are making notes on a piece of paper.

Recessions can be a stressful time, especially for nonprofit organizations. 

Chances are your nonprofit has weathered its fair share of recessions and come out the other side ok. In fact, in the United States, recessions of varying degrees have happened like clockwork every 3-4 years since the mid 1800’s. A diverse and flexible marketing plan is the key to succeeding long-term.

Read on for 10 tips for recession proofing your nonprofit marketing plan. 

  1. Do a cost/benefit analysis of your current (and wish-list) marketing strategies. Make a note of the effort, budget, timeline and results of each strategy. Some marketing strategies return results immediately, butresults stop the minute you stop. Other strategies take a few months to gain traction, but may be more set it and forget it. Determine which strategies return the best results relative to time and money invested.
  2. Install GA4 and Google Search Console on your website. These power house tools from Google will allow you to get an idea of who is coming to your website, how they are getting there (from Facebook or Google search, for example), how long they stay, which pages they spend the most time on and which keywords they are using to find your website, and more. Data analysis can be a time consuming process, but these free tools can make all the difference in your marketing strategy. 
  3. Perform keyword research. Keyword research is the process of researching which search phrases (in the biz, we call these keywords) are more likely to drive actionable traffic to your website. Keyword research can be used to inform new blogs, social media content, and to help optimize your existing content. All of these practices will help you create content that drive more traffic and more results.
  4. Build audience personas. Audience personas will help you understand your audience, their needs, pain points, habits, and preferences. These insights will help you create and disperse content in an efficient and strategic manner. By catering content to your audience and making it unique, it will perform better, saving you time and money. 
  5. Take full advantage of the Google Ad Grant. The Google Ad grant awards $10,000 in free search advertising to nonprofits EVERY MONTH. Most registered 501c(3) organizations can apply to utilize these free advertising dollars to display ads on Google’s search result pages. This is important for bringing traffic to your site and growing your brand awareness by introducing your services to new audiences. Click through to read our updated Google Ad Grant application guide. 
  6. Make sure your SEO is top notch. The goal of SEO, search engine optimization, is to generate more website visitors that translate into more awareness and (in the case of a nonprofit) donations. SEO strategies often start with keyword research and include content creation, on-page optimization, metadata, backlink acquisition, and more. Click through to read The Best Beginners’ Guides to SEO Basics.
  7. Don’t cut your budget. It might be instinctual to cut  marketing budget funds, but that does more harm than good. Refer to your cost benefit analysis and continue with efforts that return the best bang for your buck. Research has shown that maintaining your budget and marketing efforts during a recession can improve your return on investment and increase the percentage of relevant traffic from search results in your industry. Click through to learn more about marketing during a recession.
  8. Engage in social listening. Social listening is the practice of paying attention to trends, conversations, and more in the digital sphere. It can also include paying attention to who mentions your brand on which social media channels and when. Social listening can help you understand what your users care about to take advantage of engaging opportunities and navigate tricky situations.
  9. Spend time improving your website’s user experience. It’s important to have a responsive, clean and efficient website so that your users can find what they need and are encouraged to visit again. Set aside time to remove inactive or buggy plugins, ensure your important information is front and center, and optimize your site for mobile. Click through to read learn more about website user experience.
  10. Use email and social media to stay in regular contact with your supporters. After you’ve developed your audience personas, determine which marketing channels are worth your time and effort. It may be that your audience is on social media. If so, develop a plan for engaging with your audience and driving interest and engagement for your brand. It may be that your audience is more likely to engage with an email. Email is a great way to stay in regular contact with supporters and ensure you stay top of mind. Make sure whichever channel you utilize brings value to your audience, that your content is unique to you and your brand, and your message focused on building and deepening relationships.  

Recession-proofing your nonprofit marketing plan won’t be easy, but these 10 recommendations make it actionable and (we hope!) achievable. As a certified B Corp, we envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good and we want your nonprofit to flourish in spite of the ebb and flow of recessions.


As you consider fiscal responsibility for your nonprofit organization, consider reaching out to Intellitonic for a free site audit. After completing our audit, we will meet with you to review our findings and share our report with you that includes any high-priority action items to improve your site performance.


Like this read? Click to learn more about digital marketing on this blog: Top 10 Tactics to Improve Your Online Presence

Marketing Professional working on a marketing plan, sitting at a desk with books, a laptop, plant and headphones. They are making notes on a piece of paper.