Digital marketing is becoming an increasingly large portion of nonprofit marketing. With methods extending into every corner of the Internet, including search engines, social media, blogs/forums and paid advertising, it is easier than ever to share your message with the world. Since the main goals of any nonprofit marketing initiative are to increase awareness about the cause and generate fundraising dollars, it is important that the message is conveyed both passionately and succinctly.

However, in order to figure out where to best spend a nonprofit’s limited budget, it is important to keep up on current and emerging trends. According to a study conducted in 2012, the use of digital media for fundraising and advocacy initiatives grew this year by 19.6%. As a result, online donations grew 12.6% from 2011. Likewise, the median donation size is up to $93.67, a 2% increase from 2011. The top three performing verticals in donations were higher education, hospitals and human & social services. The importance of online advocacy has grown in our culture, as it is now easier than ever to share information about those charities for which you are the most passionate. The number of people who have taken at least one online advocacy action grew by 17% in 2011. On average, 12% of each organization’s email lists took online advocacy action. There is also good news specifically for smaller nonprofits: Of those surveyed with fewer than 10,000 emails, online donations increased 26.7% in median revenue.

Given this information, here are some tips to improve your nonprofit marketing channels:

Email marketing: Harnessing the power of your list is going to become increasingly important. Therefore, try to simplify advocacy actions that can be taken from an email send. Examples include linking to your site, offering social share buttons and registration options from an email could make a huge difference in engagement. Also, share the good news. If your nonprofit meets a milestone, send a “thank you” email to more than just donors. You can also check out this white paper on email marketing for more tips and tools.

Social media: It’s no secret that donors want to see where their money goes. Therefore, transparency is key. Help them visualize the data in concrete terms with an infographic or a similar medium. Your brand has to become a digital storyteller. Update frequently with personal stories of how fundraising dollars impacts the cause. Share information about your volunteers and ways to get involved. Creating compelling content will increase shares and thus, your message.

Paid ads: Increase online donations with paid ads on search engines and social media channels. Whether it’s a click-to-call extension for mobile or promoting a video about a campaign’s success, give potential donors every reason and opportunity to share your cause. If you’re not sure how to get started with SEM, read our blog post about paid search for nonprofits.

Remember: With a limited source of funds, it can often be difficult to decide where to allocate your budget. That’s why it is extremely important to optimize each marketing initiative in which you participate. It is better to have the money to do one thing well (testing, measuring, optimizing) than to be spread thin. Therefore, choose your channels wisely and be sure your target audience is there.