Why Nonprofit Organizations Need to Adopt a Growth Hacking Mindset

February 21, 2017


Guest Blog by P.J. Chambers, President, WebIXI

Dubbed the next big thing for marketing, Growth Hacking has been embraced by tech giants and startup organizations that live and die by their ability to drive customer acquisition growth.
Growth Hacking is using marketing techniques that continuously test and improve engagement with your audience in real time, with the goal of increasing your organization’s bottom line.

While primarily used in the for-profit world, the principles of Growth Hacking can absolutely be adapted to help improve marketing efforts of nonprofit organizations.


It’s no secret that resources tend to be scarce for the majority of nonprofit organizations. We can’t risk putting time and money into big ideas that may not work – and with today’s technology, we don’t need to. 

Gone are the days of planning out a marketing campaign for months in advance, then launching and praying for positive results. We can now test smaller marketing campaigns quickly and

while reviewing results in real time
(which allows us to adjust our efforts or stop them completely).


Often times our goals and objectives are extremely optimistic, but we are without a concrete plan on how to achieve such lofty ambitions. Say your organization NEEDS to increase total donations by 60% for the year. Easier said than done. There is rarely an easy “golden goose” to find.

However, what if you could increase your individual conversion rates throughout donor touch points by 10% each? This is a far more achievable (and realistic) objective – and adds up quickly. 

By looking at the overall process of receiving a donation and breaking down individual touch points, we can review them as unique factors and attempt to make adjustments to improve each touch point separately. Adding these marginal gains together can exponentially increase our results. 


These Micro Improvements can be tested in all of your online marketing efforts. Something as seemingly insignificant as the color of a button, the wording that is used, and a picture can lead to higher conversion rates.

Since we can test and change our campaigns in real time, we shouldn’t be afraid to get creative and risk a little failure on a smaller test.


The Obama Campaign’s Online Marketing Team was tasked to increase the sign-up rate for their newsletter.

The team tested two sections on the home page of the website – the Call to Action Button and the Main Media (in which three images and three videos were tested in real time).

They ran all possible combinations of the test at the same time.

The Original Home Page:              The Winning Combination:

The difference between these two layouts was astonishing – the sign-up rate for the winning combination of media was 11.6% against the original design’s 8.26% (a whopping 40.6% increase).

This equated to 2.8 million additional email addresses and an additional $60M in donations to the campaign – just from testing the elements of the design in real time. 

Had the marketing team “gone with its gut”, they would have stayed with the video media (as studies tend to show that they perform the best), but when tested on real users in real time, these proved to actually be the worst performing campaigns.


Join us on March 21st at Maryland Nonprofits’ Annual Tech to Tell Your Story conference for a more in-depth session on Growth Hacking, where we will be exploring:

  • Adopting a Growth Hacking mindset, including the ideal skill set of a Growth Hacking Team
  • Understanding the power of micro-improvements and focus on identifying these within the customer touch points (including common testing factors)
  • Utilizing Scrum Methodology – a focused effort for a 30-day period toward fixed goals
  • Understanding the Growth Hacking Process and the five key pillars of Growth Hacking, including:
    • Product / Market Fit
    • User and Customer Data Analysis
    • Conversion Rate Optimization
    • Viral Growth
    • Retention and Scalable Growth





P.J. Chambers is President of WebIXI, a family owned and operated Online Marketing Company based in Harford County, Maryland. WebIXI has been helping businesses and nonprofit organizations improve their online marketing campaigns since 1995. WebIXI was named one of the Top 100 Small Businesses in the Nation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Chambers is also a Maryland Nonprofits’ Associate Member and Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultant. He can be reached at pjc@webixi.com.

The Winning Combination:

The Winning Combination: