How Nonprofits Can Start An Online Magazine in 2024

Are you looking to engage your donors more? Starting an Online Magazine for your Nonprofit might help. See why and how to get started.

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Before we go into what an Online Magazine exactly is and how to get started, let’s first go into why Nonprofits should look into adding magazines to their Marketing Strategy.

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In this article

Why Nonprofits should use Online Magazines

In this day and age, more and more people want to do good. At the same time, people want to know that the money they donate will be spent well, AND there are quite some charities to choose from when donating.

Creating a great digital magazine can help your nonprofit stand out and showcase that you’re a thought leader on the subject. You can showcase that you truly understand the issue you’re combating, have the right solution, and showcase successes.

The online magazine format helps you to tell better stories by adding beautiful multimedia elements and guiding people through the storyline.

What is a Digital Magazine or Online Magazine

Simply put, a digital magazine has many of the same characteristics as a print magazine but uses digital publishing technology so it can be consumed on any electronic device like a computer, tablet, or mobile phone while delivering the same experience.

There are plenty of advantages to using a digital magazine over a print magazine. Massive savings on printing costs and eco-friendliness are the most obvious. Depending on the technology used, digital magazines can have aesthetic and functional benefits as well. For example, they may contain animations, hyperlinks, videos, and other dynamic content.

So what is an Online Magazine then? Is it the same?

Online magazines (or ezines, e-zines, eMagazines, webzines) are digital magazines that are hosted, distributed, and read online. While they share some characteristics with online newspapers and blogs, the editorial approach remains more like a traditional magazine.

Examples of great looking Digital Nonprofit Magzines

Let’s go with the ‘show, don’t tell’ approach.

Here are a couple of great Digital Nonprofit Magazine examples. See how they tell a great story, how they guide you through that story, and how they use multimedia to create an immersive experience?

Imagine this would be your magazine. How would your donors that have supported you for years react to such content? Would they be excited to see how their money has been put to good use all these years?

One of the biggest challenges nonprofits face is getting people to care.

Scott Harrison, CEO, and Founder of Charity: Water said it well:

“It’s hard to make people care. It’s not their daughter that has to walk for miles to get water every day”. 

Do you think such magazines would make a small difference in getting people to care? Check out the examples by clicking the links below:

digital magazine example MVO Nederland
digital magazine example Lisc

How to create awesome magazines

Let’s entertain the thought that you’re convinced that having a great-looking magazine can help you tell better, immersive stories. And that such magazines will help you attract new donors and volunteers, and retain existing donors and volunteers.

The question is.

How do you create great magazines?

1. Get a content team together

First of all, you’ll need people to help you put all that awesome content you’ve been creating and stories you have to tell together into magazine formats.

Do you have a content marketer, or even a content team ready to go? If not, do you have volunteers ready to help out? If not, a freelancer or agency would also be an option. To be honest, having someone in-house would be ideal, but don’t dismiss the option if you don’t have that luxury.

2. Create a content repository

As a nonprofit, you, your volunteers, and donors have a lot of opportunities to create content. Hosting an event? Take pictures, Volunteering days? Get volunteers to take pictures. And so on.

Be sure to encourage people to take pictures and videos, write a short blurb about the piece, and send them to you, and  User Generated Content is really strong because it’s created by people that love what you do and you’ll get different viewpoints and stories.

After receiving those pieces of content, save them in a content repository and they’re ready to be used for your magazines.

3. Decide on the Magazine type

There are roughly 5 types of digital magazines you could create. Check out the image below:

magazine types

Source: Foleon

We’ve written before about the future of PDF.

Also for creating beautiful magazines, we don’t believe the PDF format is really suited. You just can’t create the immersive experiences you’ve seen in the examples above with PDFs. It would be a waste of time and resources to publish your awesome stories in an outdated format.

So the other options are; Flipbooks, Flash, Native apps, or HTML5 Magazines.

We won’t bore you with all the details but creating HTML5 Magazines will give you the best experience with the least effort.


As a Nonprofit, you, your donors, and volunteers are creating a lot of awesome content.

It’s time to collect and organize those pieces of content and to create beautiful, immersive magazines that will wauw new and existing donors.


What Is Nonprofit Magazine Marketing?

Nonprofit magazine marketing involves promoting a nonprofit organization’s mission, events, and activities through a magazine format, either in print or online, to engage supporters and attract new donors.

How Can Nonprofits Benefit from Magazine Marketing?

Nonprofits can benefit by sharing impactful stories, increasing visibility, building credibility, and engaging with a wider audience, potentially leading to increased donations and support.

What Types of Content Are Effective for Nonprofit Magazines?

Effective content includes success stories, beneficiary testimonials, volunteer spotlights, event highlights, and informative articles related to the nonprofit’s mission and work.

How Can Nonprofits Distribute Their Magazines Effectively?

Distribution can be done through direct mail to supporters, at events, in public spaces like libraries, online via the nonprofit’s website or social media, and through partnerships with like-minded organizations.

What Are the Key Considerations in Designing a Nonprofit Magazine?

Key considerations include ensuring the design aligns with the nonprofit’s brand, is visually appealing, easy to read, and effectively communicates the intended message and stories.

Can Nonprofit Magazines Include Advertisements?

Yes, including advertisements from sponsors or partners can be a way to offset printing costs and provide additional funding, as long as the ads align with the nonprofit’s values.

How Can Nonprofit Magazines Be Used to Encourage Donations?

Magazines can encourage donations by including compelling stories that demonstrate impact, clear calls to action, donor testimonials, and easy ways to donate, like QR codes or website links.

What Role Do Digital Magazines Play in Nonprofit Marketing?

Digital magazines expand reach to online audiences, offer interactive elements, are cost-effective, and can be easily shared, making them a valuable tool in modern nonprofit marketing strategies.

How Can Nonprofits Measure the Success of Their Magazine Marketing?

Success can be measured by engagement metrics, feedback from readers, increases in website traffic, donor inquiries, and tracking any spikes in donations following magazine distribution.

What Are Some Cost-Effective Strategies for Nonprofit Magazine Production?

Cost-effective strategies include digital publishing, seeking sponsorships for funding, using volunteer writers or photographers, and printing in cost-efficient formats.

How Can Storytelling Be Effectively Utilized in Nonprofit Magazines?

Effective storytelling involves sharing real-life examples of the nonprofit’s impact, using compelling narratives and visuals to connect emotionally with readers and illustrate the organization’s work.

What Is the Importance of Consistent Branding in Nonprofit Magazine Marketing?

Consistent branding in magazines helps establish and reinforce the nonprofit’s identity, making it more recognizable and trusted among readers and potential donors.

Can Nonprofit Magazines Be Used for Volunteer Recruitment?

Yes, magazines can feature stories about volunteer experiences, highlight the benefits of volunteering, and include calls to action for reader involvement, effectively aiding in volunteer recruitment.

How Do Digital Magazines Compare with Print Magazines in Terms of Engagement?

Digital magazines offer interactive elements like videos and hyperlinks, potentially leading to higher engagement, while print magazines provide a tangible experience that can appeal to a different audience segment.

What Strategies Can Be Used to Grow the Readership of Nonprofit Magazines?

To grow readership, employ strategies like social media promotion, partnerships with other organizations, email marketing, and distributing magazines at public events and spaces.

How Can Nonprofits Incorporate Feedback Mechanisms in Their Magazines?

Incorporate feedback mechanisms through reader surveys, comment sections in digital versions, social media engagement, and encouraging email responses to the magazine’s content.

What Are the Best Practices for Writing Articles for Nonprofit Magazines?

Best practices include focusing on clear, concise, and engaging content, using layman’s terms for complex topics, including impactful images, and ensuring all information is accurate and verifiable.

Can Nonprofit Magazines Be a Platform for Acknowledging Donors and Partners?

Yes, magazines can acknowledge donors and partners by featuring profiles, interviews, or thank-you sections, which can also encourage more donations and collaborations.

How Can Nonprofit Magazines Effectively Highlight Impact and Achievements?

Nonprofit magazines can highlight impact and achievements by featuring detailed stories of successful projects, data and statistics on program outcomes, and testimonials from beneficiaries and stakeholders.

What Are Some Creative Formats for Nonprofit Magazines?

Creative formats include interactive digital magazines, thematic issues focusing on specific causes or events, visually-driven magazines with infographics and photography, and mini-magazines for quick reads.

How Can Nonprofit Magazines Integrate with a Broader Marketing Strategy?

Magazines should align with the overall marketing strategy by reinforcing key messages, supporting campaigns, and directing readers to other engagement opportunities like events or online content.

Can Nonprofit Magazines Serve as Educational Tools?

Yes, they can serve as educational tools by providing in-depth articles on relevant issues, insights into the nonprofit’s field of work, and resources for learning and personal development.

What’s the Role of Guest Contributors in Nonprofit Magazines?

Guest contributors can add diverse perspectives, lend expertise, and increase the magazine’s credibility. They can include experts in the field, partners, or influential figures aligned with the nonprofit’s mission.

How Can Nonprofit Magazines Foster Community Among Readers?

Fostering community can be achieved by featuring reader-submitted content, encouraging dialogue through letters to the editor, and creating content that resonates with the shared values and interests of the readership.

What Are the Challenges in Nonprofit Magazine Publishing, and How Can They Be Overcome?

Challenges include budget constraints, maintaining consistent quality, and meeting publishing deadlines. Overcome these by leveraging volunteer contributions, seeking sponsorships, and efficient planning.

How Important Is Issue Frequency for Nonprofit Magazines?

Issue frequency should balance the nonprofit’s capacity to produce quality content with the need to keep readers engaged. Regular publications, whether monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually, help maintain reader interest.

Can Nonprofit Magazines Be Used to Influence Policy or Advocacy Work?

Yes, magazines can be instrumental in policy or advocacy work by educating readers on issues, shaping public opinion, and presenting compelling arguments to influence change.

How Can Nonprofit Magazines Measure Their Success and Impact?

Success and impact can be measured through readership numbers, engagement metrics like shares and comments, feedback from readers, and the magazine’s influence on fundraising or volunteer recruitment efforts.

How Can Nonprofits Ensure Their Magazines Are Accessible to a Diverse Audience?

Ensure accessibility by offering content in multiple languages, providing digital versions with screen-reader compatibility, and considering diverse audience needs in content creation.

What’s the Role of Analytics in Digital Nonprofit Magazine Marketing?

Analytics in digital magazines can track reader engagement, popular articles, click-through rates, and other metrics, providing valuable insights for content and marketing strategy improvements.

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