6 Free Online Courses and Resources for Nonprofit Marketers

6 min
profile photo for Classy blog contributor Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke

As much fun as it would be, you don’t have to go back to college every time you want to learn a new skill set. In fact, you likely don’t even need to leave your desk. There are thousands of free online courses and resources available that can help advance your professional development.

Learn to build a social media strategy, fire up your content marketing engine, or learn to use Google’s free tools. No matter what facet of your marketing role you decide to improve, online courses are typically broken up into digestible segments so you can learn at your own pace and on your own time.

In the spirit of Classy’s core value to “Always Be Learning,” we rounded up six resources, courses, and certifications below that can help you become a better nonprofit marketer. Be sure to download our Digital Marketing Checklist as well to level up your current marketing strategy as you implement all your shiny new skills.

Free Download: The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

1. Udemy

Udemy is an online learning platform that has over 150,000 online course offerings and 295 million students engaging with the content across a wide range of topics like business, design, web development, and so much more. For marketing-specific courses, they offer a whopping 744 options that are free of charge.

Learning a new skill, such as how to optimize your website for search engines, is not only an investment in yourself, but also in your organization and its cause. SEO has the power to help your organization reach new audiences. You work hard at your design and content generation, so why not invest time in helping search engines discover your hard work? Courses such as these can help you understand the best practices needed to successfully optimize your pages and expand your reach.

For example, nonprofits who are focused on email marketing over social media can sign up for a special one-hour starter course: MailChip for Beginners. It details how MailChimp works, but more importantly it shows how you can leverage it for cost-effective, successful, and measurable email marketing campaigns. It’s particularly beneficial for those who need to build an email strategy from scratch, as it covers almost everything you’d need to know to get up and running with your first campaign in an hour.

Once you’ve mastered MailChimp, you decide it’s time to learn perfect your copy that goes inside the emails, so you sign up for Content Marketing 101: A Free Guide for Beginners or Pros. This course was built specifically to provide a lesson plan that teaches how to research keywords, create content, and promote your work to grow organic traffic to your pages.

These are only a few of the options Udemy offers, and they’re a great place to source beginner to intermediate level tips. If you want to drill down further with any specific topic, you can consider one of their paid options: for marketing alone there are an additional 6,993 courses available.

2. Google Certifications and Courses

Google’s product portfolio has truly modernized the workplace with user-focused tools designed to be both intuitive and informative. Their library of resources can help you make data-informed decisions about your online marketing strategies, what’s working, and where you need to pivot.

  • Google Analytics: Tracks and reports website traffic, where that traffic is coming from, how much time people spend on your pages, if people stay on your site pages, and much more.
  • Google Adwords: Assists marketers in expanding their reach through advertisements and tells you what words people are using to search for your content online.

Read Next: 8 Free Google Tools Nonprofits Can Use for Deeper Insights

If getting set up on these platforms is the first step, the second step is mastering all that they have to offer. To help, Google has built their Skillshop to teach users how to unlock the full potential of each tool with detailed lesson plans from prominent instructors. There’s even a special section of the site dedicated to nonprofits with Google for Nonprofits where you can access special courses catered directly to nonprofit professionals.

3. Hootsuite and Buffer

It’s imperative your nonprofit be active on social media. You don’t have to have to use every channel available, but you should absolutely identify some of your top prospects that can drive healthy engagement metrics on your published content like impact stories, news updates, annual reports, and more.

There are countless online social media courses available that will help you master your strategy, from partnering with influencer marketers to creative ideas for content. However, you shouldn’t just pick any random course, as many likely won’t be worth your time. In this case, it could be beneficial to choose a course built by a company that’s directly embedded in social media every day, like Hootsuite or Buffer.

Both companies offer social media management tools that help schedule and publish your content across different channels from one platform. As experts in the social media space, they offer free online courses. The Hootsuite Academy was built to help you master social media through the use of their own platform. The introductory level is free, which is a great place to start, but you’ll have to pay for higher tiers and certification.

Buffer hosts multiple free courses on the platform Skill Share, and we recommend taking their Introduction to Social Media Strategy and Introduction to Social Media Advertising.

4. Internet Marketing for Smart People

Copyblogger is an online resource for free information on content marketing, and they have multiple classes that can give you everting you need to build a strong content marketing engine. For example, Copywriting 101 and How to Create Content That Converts are just a few of the many free resources offered if you register.

As a MyCopyblogger member you’ll also be enrolled in the course, Internet Marketing for Smart People. It consists of four major pillars that will help lead you to online marketing success: relationships, direct response copywriting, content marketing, and have something worth selling.

They take their own advice to heart as well: the course is a 20-part offering that delivers the lessons directly to your inbox and operates on the best practices you’ll learn. It’s an intuitive course that will help you understand how important online marketing concepts work together.

5. HubSpot Academy

HubSpot is an online software platform that helps your organization grow by providing marketing, sales, and CRM tools. They also built the HubSpot Academy to help dedicated marketing professionals grow their career by offering multiple free certifications.

There are options to polish your skills using their native software, like the 16-lesson course about using the full HubSpot Marketing Software suite or the Inbound Marketing offering which teaches techniques like nurturing and converting leads. There are also certification courses that focus on general skill sets like Content Marketing and Social Media.

No matter what you choose, you’ll receive a special, industry-recognized badge that you can add to your LinkedIn profile once you’re officially HubSpot certified in a specific area.

6. Nonprofit Ready

Nonprofit Ready has hundreds of courses specifically catered to nonprofit professionals. Their marketing and communications courses aim to help your organization raise awareness and grow. Their “Strategy Marketing Plans,” course, for example, offers registrants a 30-minute session on how to create your operational plan and goals to stay on task the entire year.

With resources specifically catered to your work in the nonprofit sector, these courses will take the extra step for you and connect the lessons to the things you encounter on a daily basis. These courses will also help you stay in touch with current trends in the nonprofit sector and leverage marketing best practices specific to communicating with donors.

When you take the opportunity to enroll in an online course or certificate program, you’re making the decision to strengthen your skills as a nonprofit professional and propel your organization to new heights. It’s also a great way to make progress on your personal development goals and ensure you’re always growing in your role. Let us know how your experience with these free online courses goes in the comments below, and download our Digital Marketing Checklist below to take your marketing skills even further.


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