7 Nonprofit Marketing Trends in 2020 & Beyond

door, and you need to understand where marketing trends will be heading in the turn of this new decade.

7 nonprofit marketing trends in 2020 & beyond which you will begin to notice are already impacting marketing trends in 2019 include:

  1. Understanding Generation Z’s impact on nonprofits
  2. Knowing how the political election year will change your nonprofit
  3. Utilizing text donations in your nonprofit
  4. Personalized targeting in nonprofits
  5. Climate change growing as a player in the nonprofit game 
  6. Artificial intelligence as an overall trend in nonprofits
  7. More transparency in all business

These are the significant impacts on our upcoming year and the subjects which you need to be familiar with if you want to stand out amongst thousands of other nonprofits.

The top marketing influencers for 2020 that are unanimously being discussed by Forbes,  Classy, and Non-Profit Pro will have an impact on your nonprofit business, whether you like it or not. We will cover each in-depth and help you gain a new perspective on the future that you may not have considered for your foundation yet. My hope is that by the end of this guide – you will have a new baseline to start the new year from that will set your nonprofit up for relevancy, competency, and success!  

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7 Nonprofit Marketing Trends in 2020 & Beyond

Trends are always changing and must be kept up with regularly to maintain your relevance. You have to change with the times, which means keeping up with the constantly evolving information and cultural impact. 

Whether your nonprofit is focused in:

  • Helping people
  • Helping animals
  • Helping the environment

You will need to know the trends for 2020 and how they affect your nonprofit’s future. So, without further ado – let’s explore why.

1. Understanding Generation Z’s Impact on Your Nonprofit

Generation Z are those who are born between 1996 to 2010. They may seem young to you, but they are the future of consumerism and the future leaders of all finances. They are also the most technologically fluent, are natives to the world of cloud, and can master your iPad in about 2 seconds.

This means the future of your nonprofit will be in their hands, and you’ll need to adapt to the technological demands at pace with this group while comprising 27% of the entire U.S. population. Not to mention that by 2020 are anticipated to make up 40% of all total consumers in the U.S. alone.

You need to understand them, or you won’t go far.

The trends in 2020 will reflect this age group’s influence along with Millennials, which account for most of the workforce presently.

Things that Generation Zs care about includes:

  • Visuals
  • Supporting human and youth services
  • Animals
  • Entrepreneurial endeavors/ freedom to work from anywhere
  • Travel
  • Embrace diversity
  • Honesty
  • Authenticity

These are just some of the keywords which may help paint a picture for you of who these adolescents are and will be. They’re actually quite competitive and creative, so will expect the same from your Nonprofit.

A few habits you should be aware of regarding how to market to this age-group includes:

  • The use their phones on average 15.4 hours a week (more than any other generation)
  • They consume 13.2 hours of television a week (which is less than generations in the past)
  • They know how to block your ads, according to Vision Critical.
How to Use This Information?

They favor images and videos to Facebook and are moving towards Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok. You need to get to the point and keep the words sweet and short! They don’t want to read a novel.

They’ve got a lot to do with higher demands than ever, and they also lose attention quickly due to all the technological stimulus they’ve been raised in through the last 20 years.

Infographics are great, tell the story, and make it memorable to their quickly distractible minds.

2. Surviving and Thriving in Election Year as a Nonprofit

An election year will focus everyone’s thoughts on what’s important and what causes need to be focused on.

This can be good news or bad news, but what you need to read up on is the 501(c)(3) section of the US Internal Revenue code. This impacts your nonprofit specifically because it changes your organization’s tax exemption.

Nonprofits that are receiving any kind of public funding are really at a halt on election years. It can be a stressful time, and you need to know what you’re legally allowed to do, and what you’re not.

This research paper on how political giving impacts nonprofit support, describes that, “We may have discovered in this study that high-profile campaign years are ideal target times for nonprofits to acquire young donors.”

Rick Cohen, Chief Officer of the National Council of Nonprofits, says, “Nonprofits can endorse issues but are not permitted to endorse or oppose candidates. This sounds like they are deep into the gray area right up against the line of violating the law.”

This means that as the leader of a nonprofit, it’s essential to understand the dos and don’ts. understand.

It could be good news for your nonprofit, or it may slow things down. It will really all depend on your mission and the attention it’s receiving in this political timeframe. You will notice a flood of donations around specific issues.

For example, in the 2016 election year, there was a significant amount of initiations to nonprofits that worked in social action and civil rights.

Many of these regulations are coming because of compromised nonprofits that are altering the playing field for ethical nonprofits. Pro Publica, says that “Most experts do not expect the campaign finance landscape to change much before November, leaving social welfare nonprofits and their anonymous backers’ ample opportunity to influence who wins.”

There’s a lot of powershifting and moving parts, so I can’t tell your future or forecast how it will specifically impact your nonprofit.

You need to know:

  • If your mission leans conservative or liberal
  • Who your target audience of donors are
  • How they’ll be voting
  • What growth looks like in the new year for your cause
  • How to stay relevant

Here is an excellent resource for you to reference and gain a better understanding on election year’s impact – 2020 Questions Answered.  Another helpful resource, the Dos and Don’ts of Nonprofits., has some meaty information, but you’ll need time to digest it.

3. Using Text Donations in Nonprofits

This is the future of all nonprofits, and if you’re ignoring this trend, your nonprofit won’t survive to 2030.

It might, but it won’t be as successful as if it had utilized the magical powers of text-to-give donations.

Over 5 billion people on Earth own smartphones, and 97% of Americans use it to text at least once a day. And here’s the vital statistic – mobile donations increased by 205% last year.

Things are looking up for quick and easy ways to reach donors, but you need to understand your audience. This means:

  • Keep it simple
  • Direct copy
  • Nothing pushy
  • Gratuitous and appreciative/ non-desperate text tone

It can be the simplest way to ask for donations, and you don’t have to do a lot. One to two impactful sentences will do it, with a link of where to donate by mobile.

Apps I recommend to reach them by text for donations are:

  1. Snowball
  2. myPLEDGER
  3. Subsplash
  4. CallHub
  5. OneCause

Once you contact them by text and they’ve clicked the link, you need to follow these tips for donation success. If you follow them precisely, you will see growth in your nonprofit:

  • Think like Amazon, just a few quick clicks. You need to keep the entire donation process simple and not distract them with heavy copy. This will scare them off or lose their attention. Make it a few easy steps and a quick donate now button to submit.
  • ALWAYS have a giving scale (this is the part that says, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500) and always list it up to $1000. This encourages people to donate more by seeing a higher figure. Don’t just leave an empty amount for them to fill in, or it always certainly will be less than you could get with the socially impactful giving scale.
  • ALWAYS include an extra slot that says, ‘other amount,’ so they have another option. Don’t force them to choose one of these numbers, or it leaves a bad taste in a donor’s mouth.
  • ALWAYS have a checkbox directly under that says something like, “Would you like to make this a monthly donation to help Jack and Jill build their well, etc. (with something personal to tug at their heart and make them feel connected with a picture as well). If you can put enough cute and sad looking animals in front of us humans, we can’t help it – we want to help. If they subscribe for a monthly donation, you will have earned a real donor that you don’t have to work each month for.
  • ALWAYS thank the donor in email and follow up with essential updates of what their money is doing to help the foundation and cause. People want to feel useful and involved or may lose interest.

4. Personalized Targeting in Nonprofits

This will be a vital tool that is only continuing to grow in 2020. We’ve seen in 2019 how ads tend to know more and more about us. We only need to think about a toaster, and suddenly toaster ads will find us in email, social media, and everywhere we go.

It can seem haunting, but it’s all intentional, according to The Great Hack, a Netflix film all about the Cambridge Analytica tracking of our personal data. According to the documentary uncovering all of the information that companies download on consumers, they have around 5,000 data points on each person.

According to 2018 Trends in Personalization’s Survey report, “96% of respondents believe personalization helps build customer relationships.”

Don’t kid yourself, this will impact the political year as it did in 2016, and it will affect your nonprofit. It all comes full circle and relates to each other in a fascinating intertwining of marketing trends. But the point is – You can learn about your donors.

I think there’s a level of privacy that needs to be respected in ethical practice, but everyone is being tracked by their behavioral habits.   Rather than merely tracking your donors, ask them. Keep it concise but reference this guide for the sImplest donor tip of all time:  it’s all about how to ask for the information through custom questions to your donors.

You can also download a Customer Relationship Management tool, which will help you understand your donors better. I recommend Salesforce , which allows you to understand their giving habits and trends.

You have to think more strategically to keep up in this modern world, and it’s only getting more intense. Get ready to personalize and understand so much more about your donors than people 20 years ago ever could have imagined.

5. Climate Change Focus in Nonprofits

This I will keep concise because you will know straight away based on your own nonprofits’ mission – if climate change will impact your work.

If your nonprofit is about helping the rainforest, stopping global warming, saving ecosystems, or other climate-related issues, it may see some much-needed attention this year because of the media attention on this topic.

Gavin Schmidt, who is the Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says, “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It’s here. It’s now.” And that is the current sentiment of the media which is creating a great environment for donations to environmental nonprofits.

The point is – climate change will be a vast topic and trend in 2020 that we all need to be giving due attention to. No matter what you think about it, people are talking about it, and you will decide how you and at what level you will engage in the conversation.

#6 Artificial Intelligence Trend in Nonprofits

The world is getting more advanced, to the point where you can ask Siri to make a donation to your favorite charity.

Your fundraising will be significantly improved by using all of the new incredible Artificial intelligence at our fingertips, and it’s only on the rise. Accenture’s Technology Vision says that 81% believe that by 2020, A.I.’s will work with humans in organizations, collaborations, and as advisors.

They’re also being placed in cars to drive us around and changing the entire world as we know it. Something you can utilize in this growing trend is how to make it work for your nonprofit.

The easiest way is to have a chatbot. These are A.I.s which communicate with you on an instant messaging chat. These can help you to gain more data on your donors because you can’t be in a million places at once. This is the beauty of A.I.

A way that it’s being beautifully used for good is through a nonprofit that helps youth at risk for suicide. They utilized a psychology learning machine that tracks social media content in young adults. The Crisis Text Line discovered that the term “ibuprofen” is 16 times more likely to predict the need for emergency aid than the word “suicide.”

A.I.s can help you to personalize communication and nurture relationships easier. You can use it to see their past donating and volunteering history and use data screening tools to know how to appeal to their behaviors.

I can only hope that the future of A.I. makes the world easier for humans, and it’s already proving to lighten the load. You’ll see much more about A.I. developments in all business and nonprofit marketing trends for 2020.

7. More Transparency in All Business

Last but certainly not least of your concerns in the marketing evolutions of the new year, something that will be demanded of all companies, nonprofit or not – is transparency.

Blame Capitalism exposés, exhausted political followers, celebrity scandals, the ‘Me Too,’ movement, or any other social event you can relate – people are over the lies. They’re sick of scams and tired of the corruption. If there’s anything that won’t be tolerated in this ultra-connected social media realm – it’s a liar.

Transparency matters. And what this means for your nonprofit is that you will always need to hold integrity for your donors and live by the ethics of honesty.

Donors want to know what their money is doing and how you’re using it. Millennials and Generation Z age groups want more involvement and to be more active than only donating.

What you’ll need to do:

  • Email or snail mail personalized-matchups. I donate to SPCA, and they send a monthly note with the story of a dog or cat, including pictures (how they were found and where their progress is at now with your help.) Let them in on the real story behind the people or creatures being helped. Your donors want to know.
  • Post regular updates and status of the project
  • Invite your donors to events. By taking them to shelter, soup kitchens, inner-city schools, or wherever your community is helping, they will see it firsthand. Let them witness what their help really does and show them how transparent you are about your nonprofit.
  • Try live streaming on social media – giving them real-time updates when they can’t all be there. This way all of your followers can share at the moment.

The world is asking more of itself, and that’s a beautiful thing. It will sift out the unethical practices and change the game of nonprofits forever.


Nonprofits will need to pay attention to these trends while also creating their own voice in new ones. 2020 is right around the corner, and you want your mission to have the boost it deserves in the new year.

I hope this guide has been a useful mental exercise that will serve your nonprofit in 2020 and years to come!

The ones who succeed are the ones that adapt. So cheers to the new year and cheers to change!

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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