The Internet and the Nonprofit Industry:

Pros and Cons of the Internet on Current Marketing Practices in the NPO Industry

by Aruna Singh


Lets talk about the picture that you see above. It is definitely a pro of the internet's effect on the NPO Industry. NPOs are consistently faced with the issue that marketing may pressure their budget. However, internet marketing has made advertising in general, more affordable. And as you can see, in the year of 2012, 63% of nonprofits jumped on board while the other 37% increased their already existing online efforts.

The picture above shows that smaller NPOs have been having an easier time raising money online compared to larger organizations. With this information, one can infer that the internet is giving smaller NPOs a better survival rate because they have a new way to raise money. Also, it can be said that online giving levels the playing field for NPOs, giving the smaller organizations an opportunity to raise capital even when larger organizations have more popularity.

Finally, with the struggling economy, as one might think is obvious, people are less susceptible to donating disposable income to NPOs. Therefore, in the year of 2012 in the third quarter, overall donations dropped by almost 4%. However, online donations increased by 2%, giving NPOs a glimmer of hope that the convenience of internet donations can save their organizations.


Similar to for-profit companies, NPOs have access to your demographic information through the internet. For example, I am certain that many NPOs have knowledge of my gender, age, neighborhood, school, race, etc. They hone in on issues that might be emotionally linked or concerning to me such as women's issues like breast cancer and premature childbirth and send me mail asking for donations. I receive at least 1 to 4 of these "junk mails" per week. And all of this is occurring because NPOs are fishing for possibly willing donors on the internet based on demographics. It is quite annoying to say the least.

It may seem like significantly lowered cost is a positive for NPOs, but not always. Many NPOs have switched to singularly online marketing and have been ignoring traditional forms of marketing like television, radio, and newspaper due to cost. The issue with this is that while a vast amount of global donors use the internet, there are still many people out there, either donors or possible clients for NPOs, that rely on traditional forms of advertising as a means to gather information. Therefore, the actual mission of NPOs may be suffering because they might not be reaching the people in need.

A general negative regarding online advertising is that so many companies can afford it that it is causing an advertising overload on the web. As a result, people have too much information to digest and have shortened their attention spans. Since NPOs have traditionally relied on longer advertisements with the goal of building emotional connections, NPOs will suffer in the long run if they do not significantly shorten their advertisements and make them just as interesting as for-profit ads.

With all of this in mind, it is difficult to determine whether online advertising has been generally positive or negative for NPOs since many companies have just started to adopt this new means of advertising. As time goes on, my eyes will be on the Nonprofit industry as online advertising undergoes more advanced updates.