Having been both a volunteer and Board Member of numerous non-profits and civic organizations, I’ve witnessed first-hand the struggle organizations face when trying to market themselves. Because non-profits need to stretch their budgets to accomplish their mission, marketing is often considered a costly “extra” that is cut from the plan. Here are five low-cost (or no-cost) steps that non-profits can take to increase their marketing:
1. Develop an Online Presence – For many non-profits and businesses alike, the thought of developing and maintaining a website is overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. For non-profits that don’t have someone web-savvy on staff, opt for a site built with a user-friendly content management system (CMS), like WordPress, that will make it easy for your team to keep the site up-to-date. Search online for web developers who work with non-profits. Many offer discounted rates, so establishing your online presence may not be as costly as you think.
2. Be Social – The people you’re trying to reach – volunteers, donors, and those who your organization serves – are active on social media, so it can be the perfect platform to engage with them…and it’s free! Facebook is typically a good match for most non-profits because it not only provides a way to engage with your audience, it can also act much like a website.
Take advantage of all of the features Facebook offers:
a. update the About section with your mission, history, and contact information
b. develop tabs with information for volunteers and donors
c. create events that your followers can share with their friends to help spread the word
By engaging with your audience through social media, you can build relationships with others who support your cause. And because so many people use social media every day, there’s likely someone on your staff with the skills needed to keep your social media presence up-to-date.
3. Take Advantage of Google Grants – Did you know Google offers non-profits up to $10,000 per month to place ads on its search network? There are some eligibility requirements, but if your organization qualifies, this can be a great opportunity to increase traffic to your website.
4. Engage Local Media – With so much emphasis placed on online media, don’t forget to engage your local media. Many newspapers will publish event information and articles for non-profits at no charge, and local radio and TV stations will promote events on air as a service to the community. They may even be willing to be an event sponsor and provide additional media placement as an in-kind donation.
5. Host an Event – Hosting an event can be expensive, but when done well, it can also be a way to raise funds and build partnerships with other organizations and businesses in your community. By incorporating a fundraising component, promoting the event through local media and social networks, and partnering with local businesses as sponsors, you can have a successful event that raises money for your organization. Events are also a great way to introduce people to your organization, so in addition to donations, you can attract potential volunteers.
Whether you try two of the opportunities above or all five, remember to be true to your brand. Maintain your brand identity and keep your message consistent across all channels so that those interested in your cause gain a clear picture of your organization and its mission.