The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.” While he wasn’t talking specifically about fundraising, his words hold true for nonprofit marketing experts. Executing effective campaigns is all about strategy. However, understanding and improving those strategies becomes a lot easier when you’re equipped with the right vocabulary. How prepared are you to create your next winning nonprofit campaign? How confident are you in your ability to overcome this year’s nonprofit marketing challenges? Before you answer, test your knowledge of these key nonprofit marketing terms to know.

20 Nonprofit Marketing Terms to Know in 2018

1. A/B Testing

A/B testing refers to the process of comparing two variations of an offer or creative treatment to gauge which produces better results. Marketers use A/B testing to test the same Facebook ad with two different images, the same blog post with two different headlines, or the same call to action with two different image options. These are just a few examples. To improve nonprofit marketing, accurate A/B testing must always compare only one variable at a time.

marketing terms to know2. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors to a specific web page who leave the site after only viewing one page. A high bounce rate can indicate issues with site load speed, navigation, poor targeting of paid ads, or ineffective web page design. That’s why bounce rate is an important data point for nonprofit marketing.

3. Call-to-Action

Often abbreviated as “CTA,” a call to action is literally that: an image or text that prompts the viewer to act. In the world of nonprofit marketing, that action might entail downloading a whitepaper, filling out a volunteering form, or donating.

4. Capital Campaign

A capital campaign is any campaign focused on raising a specific sum of money within a specified time frame. These campaigns usually focus on a distinct, often intense, need—for example, temporary housing for a large group of people displaced after a natural disaster.

5. Cause-Related Marketing

In cause-related marketing, or simply cause marketing, nonprofit and for-profit businesses work together on a single campaign. The goal of the campaign is to boost sales for the for-profit business by dedicating a portion of the proceeds as nonprofit donations. For this reason, cause-related marketing is one of the important nonprofit marketing terms even for-profit marketers should know.

6. Clickthrough Rate

Often abbreviated as CTR, clickthrough rate is a measure of the percentage of people who clicked on an ad after viewing it. As an equation, CTR=clicks/impressions. The higher the clickthrough rate of an ad, or call to action, the more engaging and relevant the campaign is to its target audience.

nonprofit marketing terms to know7. Conversion Path

The conversion path is the journey a website visitor takes from the moment they visit your webpage until they become a “known lead.” In terms of nonprofit marketing, a “known lead” could be someone who donates, signs up for a newsletter, or completes another micro or macro conversion.

8. Digital Asset Management

Digital Asset Management, or “DAM” software provides cloud storage and organization of digital files for nonprofits and other organizations. These files can include things like logos, videos, and volunteer training manuals. Quality DAM software is a critical tool for maintaining brand consistency while providing access to assets for marketing execution on the local level.

9. Direct Mail

Direct mail campaigns are physical (not digital) messages sent to current and prospective donors, volunteers, or consumers. Thanks to variable data printing, nonprofit marketers can now send thousands of personalized direct mail messages within the same direct mail campaign. As more direct marketing features digital elements, it’s become increasingly necessary for direct mail marketers to familiarize themselves with digital nonprofit marketing terms as well.

10. Engagement Rate

When nonprofit marketers discuss engagement rate, they’re talking about the effectiveness of created content in eliciting a response. That content can be a blog post on annual giving or a social media ad for a holiday fundraising campaign. Engagement rate is a measure of interaction including clicks, comments, shares, and likes. A/B testing can help uncover why certain pieces have a higher engagement rate so their success can be replicated for even more interaction in the future.

nonprofit marketing terms to know11. Inbound Link

These links live on other websites but link back to yours. Inbound links on high-ranked third-party websites tell Google, Bing, and other search engines that your website is a reputable resource. This helps to raise search engine rankings and leads to more traffic over time. A site’s inbound links also help potential supporters learn about your cause and organization.

12. Indicia

In general terms, the word indicia simply means a sign or distinguishing mark. In nonprofit marketing, the indicia refers specifically to the mark used on direct mail pieces in place of a stamp. Indicias mark nonprofit mailings and allow them to be sorted and delivered in bulk at reduced rates.

13. Key Performance Indicator

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are metrics used to gauge nonprofit marketing success. KPIs are always specific and compared across time. For example, an organization’s goal might be broad: “to write more engaging blog posts.” One KPI they can use to track their success is time on page. If web visitors spend three minutes reading their newest blog post, but only spent an average of one minute reading their previous post, it tells them this newerbnewer content is getting “stickier” and their efforts are paying off.

14. LAI Principle

The LAI Principle stands for Linkage, Ability, and Interest. The concept is used to qualify which potential donors are most likely to give based on:

  • Linkage: their connection to the organization or cause.
  • Ability: their financial ability to make a gift at a specific level.
  • Interest: their understanding and excitement about the nonprofit’s mission and goals.


This acronym stands for donors who made gifts “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year.”

16. Marketing Automation

Automated marketing, or “trigger marketing” campaigns allow marketers to deliver collateral to segmented audiences without having to manually control each action. With automated marketing, nonprofits can send repeatable, consistent campaigns across all channels and platforms. These campaigns can be highly targeted thanks to variable printing. This allows for a high degree of targeting without risking brand consistency or wasting time and money executing each effort separately.

17. Standard of Giving

Different nonprofit marketing campaigns often target different segments of prospective donors. The “standard of giving” is an estimate of the potential giving power of each individual in a targeted group. Several data points establish the standard including past giving, market research, and other industry insights.


This acronym is similar to LYBUNT but stands for donors who gave “Some Year But Unfortunately Not This Year.”

19. Unrestricted Gift

The monetary donation of an unrestricted gift can be used as the fundraising organization sees fit. This means that in addition to funding charity efforts, unrestricted gifts help offset rent and utilities or pay employees’ salaries.

20. Workflow

Hubspot does a great job of explaining what a workflow is in the world of nonprofit marketing. “A workflow is a series of automated actions that you can trigger to occur based on a person’s behaviors or contact information. With workflows, you can send emails, update contact information, add or remove contacts from lists, and trigger email notifications.”

How Many of These Nonprofit Marketing Terms Did You Know?

How many of these nonprofit marketing terms did you know? While these definitions provide a great foundation, they certainly aren’t the only terms nonprofit marketers should be familiar with. Which items would you add to this list? Tell us by posting a comment, then share this list with your colleagues so they can test their knowledge and improve their vocabulary.

Share Button
20 Nonprofit Marketing Terms to Know
Article Name
20 Nonprofit Marketing Terms to Know
How prepared are you to create your next winning marketing campaign? Before you answer, test your knowledge of these key nonprofit marketing terms.
Publisher Name
BlueSky ETO
Publisher Logo