Non-profit digital marketing

Understanding the unique landscape of the non-profit sector

By Sarah

At Pomegranite, our mission says: “We work with non-profits, change-makers and thought-leaders to craft their online presence. We believe everyone should have a voice.”

We’ve refined it repeatedly over the years with our team, getting to the heart of who we want to work with, and how we want to do that. We treat it as a compass when deciding what work to take on or pursue – it’s very important to us.

As with anything we hold as a guide, we like to interrogate it. Seeing as we list the non-profit sector first, do we really understand the depth and breadth of it? Because, if we don’t fully understand the nuances of the NPO sector in South Africa – and Africa more broadly – how can we represent their voices authentically or ethically?

NPOs need very specific things from their online presence: to showcase their impact, to be a hub of information, to drive donations, and to build community. Here’s the key, though: in order to do these things effectively, their online presence needs to be developed in a way that’s sensitive to their context.

When we build a website, we ask these questions:

When people land on a website, what do we want them to know?
What do we want them to think?
How do we want them to feel?
And then, crucially, what do we want them to do?

These questions apply to most site builds, particularly in the NPO space. But they also need to be interrogated at a deeper level.

Who are those people? Stakeholders? Funders? Beneficiaries?

How are they accessing your website or social channels? Mobile? Desktop? On wifi? Using precious (expensive) data?

How do we make them feel seen?

The more we participate in meetings with people around the world, both clients and other marketing collaborators, the more value we see in our perspective from the global south. A certain digital solution may work brilliantly in the UK, for example, but that doesn’t mean that the same solution will be effective in Ethiopia. Understanding the unique context is key.

Our approach is to ask strategic questions, to understand as much as we can, to do extensive research, and then to check if our work reflects our client and their audience in a way that feels right to them.

It’s also not a finite journey. The world is constantly evolving, and our knowledge and approach should evolve with it.

In my skills share where I spoke about this, and then opened it up to the team, asking for their thoughts on how we’ve tackled context-specific challenges for our clients, I ended with the question:

“Is there anything we can do to make our approach even more considered, aware, empathetic, strategic and inclusive?”

And then I listened. Which, incidentally, is also the answer.

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