Michelle Bergsma is a Canadian expat living in the Netherlands, she supports nonprofits in bridging the gap between marketing and fundraising. She specializes in digital marketing, graphic design, and copywriting. Recently, Michelle launched MB Creative to work remotely with nonprofits around the globe, she currently has clients in Canada, USA, and the UK.

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret…Diversity and Inclusion strategies are not just for the Human Resources team, it’s also a big player for the Marketing team. By being more inclusive in our marketing efforts, we can grow our audience reach but we can also improve our search engine optimization (how search engines like Google find your website and content). 

I’m going to break down five inclusive steps that will make a big impact for your digital marketing efforts. They are simple, effective, and easy to integrate into your content creation.


  1. File names, alt text, captions = great places to hide keywords
  2. What’s that text in the image? What does it say?
  3. Same thing, different communication style
  4. #CapitalizeTheHashtagWords
  5. Ethnicities, ages, abilities, family make-up– Mix it up

File names, alt text, captions = great places to hide keywords

When a search engine scans websites, it’s looking for keywords that match what the person / user is looking for. Most of that content, you might assume, is going to be the written content on a blog like this, or your homepage. That’s true. But there’s only so many ways you can write – Marketing and Fundraising Consultant – in order to land the top search spot.

However, on the back end of websites, where the magic happens, there are three important fields when you upload a photo, audio file, PDF, or other file. Those fields are Alt Text, Title, and Caption.

The Australian Government Style Guide explains the difference of each as:

Titles help identify specific images (for example, ‘Figure 1’) – particularly if they are listed or referenced in other parts of the content. They are different from the HTML title attribute.

Captions are brief descriptions related to the image (for example: commentary, attributions, or quotations).

Alternative text (alt text) is a short description of the information an image conveys. It’s either available to the user as an HTML attribute or through a document’s accessibility tool. Alt text is not usually visible on the page.”

Only one of these is the obvious field to make your photos accessible – Alternative text. However, you can utilize each of these fields to increase the number of times you use your keywords. Keywords are related to the content of your blog or webpage. Search engines are counting how many times that word or words appears on a page or site, the more instances it counts the higher that page or website will rank.

So, add your keyword to all the fields, Alternative text, Title, and in your captions. Let’s use this image from a Nonprofit AF blog by Vu Lee as an example –

Vu Lee uses the caption as an option to place the Alternative Text, he combines the functions of both the caption and alternative text fields as a place for the image description. Further, in his very detailed description of the sad or tired chihuahua, he connected it to the article by saying the dog was “probably sad because it read the new BoardSource report of board diversity.” This connection uses keywords for his article on diversity and Boards.


You can use these same principles for the title of the photo – Board Diversity makes Chihuahua sad.

For an added bonus, the name of your files should also have keywords because search engines scan these as well. Give the file name the same as the Title of the photo.

Even if you don’t use all these fields front facing, having the fields filled in on the back end will help the search engines recognize what your blog, webpage, and website are about. Your content will then rank higher on Google and other search engines.

What’s that text in the image? What does it say?

Social media is great for sharing content fast and with websites like Canva, everyone can create graphics to go with their content. I personally love to pull out a quote from a blog, webpage, or testimonial to help promote an organization. However, having that quote in the image itself and not anywhere else makes it impossible for screen readers to read and excludes people whose primary language is not the same as yours.

I stumbled upon this second one myself. I am a Canadian Expat living in the Netherlands. I’m often interacting with Dutch content and while I can read quite a bit of Dutch, I do have my limits on comprehension. I like to use Google Translate and I have it as a plugin on my internet browser. Plus, Facebook offers a translation button on most Dutch content too.  These translation programs work for the content in the post not in the image itself. Much like a screen reader for a person who is blind.

It’s an easy fix and it helps connect your brand to a wider audience, a more culturally diverse audience. Simply put the text that is featured in your image into the post itself. It might seem repetitive but it’s not, it’s inclusive.

Same thing different communication style

Caption – a photo of a pie chart that has three main learning styles. The top left triangle says Visual and has an eye. The pie piece is blue and floating, around the eye it says: graphs, illustrations, pictures, powerpoints, videos, articles. The top right triangle is pink and says: Auditory, it has an ear. Around the ear it says: 1 to 1 conversations, podcasts, group discussions, oral presentations, and videos. The bottom triangle is yellow, it has two hands clapping and says: Kinesthetic. Around the hands it says: hands-on-activity, walking meetings, role playing, and note taking. These Learning Styles can help inspire your digital marketing content.
“There are a number of different learning styles and learning preferences. The most common 3 styles include Visual Learning Style (the most common), Auditory Learning Style and Tactile (Kinesthetic) Learning Style. Additional learning styles and preferences include Logical (mathematical), Social (interpersonal) and Solitary (intrapersonal).” – Identifying Your Learning Style, Turning Point, as of October 06 2022.

We all have different preferences for how we absorb information. When we were in school, we likely tapped into our preferred learning style. In an ironic twist, I am a hard of hearing person who prefers auditory learning. HA! I love in class or in person presentations, I take minimal notes, I sit at the front, and I listen and participate. I come out of the course with a head full of new insights and ideas.

We know as marketers that we should make lots of content and share it with the world. Guess what? You don’t need to make every piece of content unique. The people reading your blog might not be listening to your podcast and the people listening to your podcast might not be watching your TikTok videos. So, come up with one really great piece and revamp it for your different channels. Turn your blog into a podcast, sum it up in an infographic, do a TikTok dance with the top 5 highlights. And now you have shared the same message in different ways to reach more people based on their learning styles.

And not only their learning styles but also within their abilities. As a deaf person, I cannot understand what is being said in podcasts. The voices sound like the teachers in the Charlie Brown cartoons. However, a video with subtitles, I’ll watch it. A blog, I’ll read it. That’s fully within my abilities.


Let’s play a game, which is easier to read –

  • #savethewhales or #SaveTheWhales
  • #donatetoourcampaigntoday or #DonateToOurCampaignToday
  • #disabilityawarenessmonth or #DisabilityAwarenessMonth

If you said the second option was easiest to read, then you’re like me and like the screen readers for blind people.

So, capitalize each word in a hashtag for social media posts and you will be making life easier for everyone reading them (not just people who are blind).

Ethnicities, ages, abilities, family make-up – Mix it up 

What does your visual brand say about your organization? Can I see myself in your social media, in your advertising, in your website, in your content? And if I do see myself, is it positive?

Let’s talk about that last point. I think we all know that our images should have people of colour, people with disabilities, people of various ages, and LGBTQ++ families. But there’s a trap that often happens with nonprofit organizations: diverse people are pictured as the people who need the help, while the upper middle class white family with 2.5 kids and a dog are the heroes, helping the poor, diverse humans. And that is doing diversity wrong!

Look at your content: are you depicting an African American as a CEO or as a drug addict? Are you depicting a happy LGBTQ++ family or a hungry LGBTQ++ family needing a food hamper? Are you depicting a person with a disability as having friends and a social circle or sad and lonely? Are you depicting seniors as victims of abuse and young people as living their best life?

Do I see myself in a positive light in your marketing images? If I do, I will remember your organization. If I don’t, I will find someone else who doesn’t judge me incorrectly.

As a marketing professional, you often do need to push back. I once designed a case for support for an organization that was in a small rural town. I had various images of diverse people. Their marketing consultant pushed back that it was a rural town and so I only needed white people in the images. I pushed back a little, but in the end, it was the marketing consultants project, so I made the changes. Then, the CEO of the nonprofit in question, came back saying it needed diverse imagery. I learned a lesson about pushing back harder next time. And I think that marketing consultant learned a lesson too. Rural towns are diverse towns too.

Keep your images diverse for ages, ethnicities, genders, family make-up, and abilities. Keep the diversity mixed up and you’ll be including more people into your brands audience.

These 5 strategies work

The five strategies shared in this article make a big impression. They’re simple to implement, they help the search engines find your content and promote it, and it includes peoples’ preferences (not just their abilities, or lack of).

I use these strategies with my clients and have increases in engagement and searchability in the results. These five strategies will make a difference to your content moving forwards, then you can really focus on strategies to tap into that audience, to meet fundraising goals.