- Case Study -
HubSpot for Nonprofits, Fundraise Up, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
StoryTeller helps Twin Cities Habitat attract and engage more people via inbound marketing
Nonprofits survive and thrive based on their ability to engage people to support a mission - whether that’s by giving money, donating items, volunteering, advocating, or taking some other action.
One of the best ways to engage a person is storytelling, and nonprofits are typically filled with great stories of their work and impact. One of the best ways to share and leverage those stories is inbound marketing.
Marketing used to mean creating a message and paying to get it in front of people (newspapers, billboards, radio, TV, etc.). Google upended that model and ushered in inbound marketing. Inbound means people search for you and find you if you have content they want on your website.
The first result if you Google “inbound marketing” (after the paid ads) is HubSpot. Founded in 2006, HubSpot’s platform aligns organizations’ marketing, sales, and customer care teams, and serves as a foundation for strengthening online presence.
CONTENT IS KING
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity signed on with HubSpot in 2011 and has had great success using its tools to increase web traffic (see chart below) which has helped them engage more stakeholders, increase giving, and grow their mission impact.
“We were on Blackbaud NetCommunity but they didn't really have any quality blogging tools,” says Brian Juntti, former Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Twin Cities Habitat. “We really wanted to get into blogging.”
Google’s algorithm rewards sites that put new content up regularly and blogs are a great way to share a nonprofit’s stories and gain a larger following. It’s even better if you can incorporate video into the blogs. Pages with videos get more traffic and people spend more time on them. Twin Cities Habitat put this video on a blog to show people that volunteering with them is easy, safe, and fun.
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“The example I always use is that the blog is like an annuity because it's an asset that you have that continues to pay off on a monthly basis with organic traffic. Over 30% of our traffic is coming from organic search related to our blogs,” says Brian.
Brian liked the initial results and applied HubSpot’s tools to market the Habitat ReStore Home Improvement Outlets. ReStore sells donated building materials, furniture, and more to help fund Habitat homes.
Blogs brought new traffic to ReStore’s website and they created a VIP Club. More than 5,000 people have now signed up to receive emails about ReStore sales and 3,500 opted in to receive text alerts.
TAKING THE LEADS
Twin Cities Habitat started using HubSpot just for blogging (on a WordPress site). Soon they saw they could do much more by taking advantage of HubSpot’s CMS (content management system) and CRM (customer relationship management) tools. They migrated their entire organization’s website to HubSpot, which offers special pricing for nonprofits.
The CRM tool allows you to make lists of people (leads) based on their actions and interests. With automation tools you’re able to give people exactly the content they want.
“The big thing in fundraising is retention,” says Brian. “And for us, we still do direct mail. It’s thriving and still a significant resource. But email is a huge component of it - $70,000 to a $100,000 a year depending on the year. And our online giving is the thing that keeps growing on an annual basis.”
Twin Cities Habitat has found success retaining donors by integrating multiple channels.
“I tend to look at the different channels as meeting the donor where they are. So they're responding to the direct mail, that's fine. If they're responding to an email, that's fine. If they’re responding in social media or the website, that's fine. And it's the combination and integration of those things that’s important. If you're doing direct mail, your direct mail should have an email component to it...because you don't know how they're going to give, and it could be more convenient for them to just hit that email rather than respond to that direct mail piece. Twin Cities Habitat is able to create donor retention strategies using HubSpot lists and workflows. Habitat can send an email series to welcome first-time donors to the Habitat community and offer them other ways to get engaged. After implementing this series along with a direct mail retention strategy, Habitat saw an immediate boost in first-time donor retention over previous years."
GOING WITH THE WORKFLOW
Other email workflows that are working well for Habitat are centered around their army of volunteers (15,000 a year in the Twin Cities!) and ReStore donations.
“We have an integration with our volunteer scheduling tool,” says Brian. “When somebody checks in on a site, HubSpot gets a form submission. And so we know when they've worked, and that triggers a first-time volunteer series. We have a workflow for donors set up around product donations [to ReStore]. We say ‘Thank you.’ And then we have a series trying to get them to maybe give again in the future.”
Twin Cities Habitat also utilizes HubSpot to engage clients in their homebuying program. Blogs that explain the process and benefits of buying a home with Habitat (and lots of other more generic topics of interest to first-time homebuyers) drive organic traffic to their site. They then can nurture those leads with email workflows.
Both ReStore and the homebuying program also rely on HubSpot’s chatbot feature that can answer people’s questions in real time so they stay on the site.
Once someone visits a nonprofit’s website and is inspired by a story they read (or watch), it needs to be extremely easy for them to make a gift or answer a call to action immediately. Twin Cities Habitat shares videos like the one below via email or social media.
Ideally the video should be posted in a way that makes it easy to give right after watching it. There’s a short window of time to capitalize on the viewer’s enthusiasm. Twin Cities Habitat tried several online giving platforms with mixed results.
They think they’ve found the right one with Fundraise Up. The tool uses machine learning and human-centered design to make giving easier. Fundraise Up advertises improved donor experience, meaning faster load times, fewer fields to fill out, and no redirects. HubSpot has partnered with Fundraise Up to make the integration easier for nonprofits.
“Fundraise Up and HubSpot have revolutionized digital fundraising for us,” says Brian. “Fundraise Up’s ease of use and data-driven conversion optimizations have tripled our monthly donors and grew our online revenue by over 40% in our first year. HubSpot’s marketing tools have significantly improved our donor retention, reactivation, and upgrades through marketing automation. I love how they work together to help us now, and I’m very excited to see what their partnership brings.”
Brian says 30% of donors used to choose to cover the processing fee of making a gift online. Now, with Fundraise Up, that’s 70%.
WHERE TO START
Inbound marketing is the way to go for nonprofits. It allows them to leverage their inspiring stories and steward all their stakeholders. Be warned, success doesn’t happen overnight though (Brian estimates they’ve posted 2,000 blogs over the past decade).
“StoryTeller has been an amazing partner for Twin Cities Habitat in expanding our blog content, creating video, and boosting organic traffic to our site. In particular, StoryTeller’s work on content pillars for First-Time Homebuyers and ReStore shoppers and donors has been critical to gaining new leads and growing our customer base.”
StoryTeller has been helping Twin Cities Habitat create content and get the most out of their HubSpot tools since 2016. This has included blogs, videos, emails and workflows, landing pages, and event pages. Organic traffic (people finding them via search) has increased steadily.