9 Ways to Cost-Effectively Promote Your Cause
Nonprofits might find it difficult to prioritize marketing—especially if budgets are tight and resources limited. However, there are ways to maximize your marketing dollar and not sacrifice the opportunities to promote your mission. Even a small investment can pay off. Time and time again, I’ve seen how marketing significantly impacts a nonprofit’s ability to get greater support—in volunteers or funding—expand their donor base, create key partnerships and position themselves to be thought leaders to influence their field.
Here are nine ways to get the most out of your nonprofit marketing dollar:
1. Know Your Audience
“Who is my audience, and what are the best ways to reach them?” Always try to answer this—it’s easy to be tempted by current marketing trends, but step back to consider what is the best way to reach your audience and achieve your goals. For example, ask if the audience reach outweighs the incredible time and effort spent to build and maintain a presence on multiple social media platforms.
2. Create a Plan and Calendar
Economize through efficient planning. Develop a simple execution plan with a calendar or Gantt chart that outlines your outreach strategies and tactics over a year. By mapping out emails, social media, events, blogs, press and fundraising, you can determine if there are ways to cross-promote the various tactics for greater exposure.
3. Engage Your Staff
Your staff members are your brand ambassadors. Therefore, it’s important everyone talk about the nonprofit in a similar way to create a strong and recognizable brand. Produce messaging documents and conduct staff and board training to help them feel confident speaking about the organization. Also, consider your team as a resource—have a blog brainstorm to get ideas, ask staff to write blogs and share them on social media with hashtags for maximum exposure.
4. Tap Into Your Networks
Strategic partnerships are important for nonprofit success. Ask partners to write guest blogs or participate in a blog series on a topical theme. Leverage their networks by requesting they share their involvement to raise awareness. Send them sample social media posts for new initiatives or campaigns to repost. Likely they’ll be happy to spread the word—just be sure to return the favor.
5. Personalize Emails
Email can be a very affordable way to get the word out if you can stand out in a busy inbox. People are inundated these days. Therefore, email list segmentation is becoming crucial. Create lists based on supporters’ interests, donor and volunteer profiles, and/or partnership contacts. Then create content specifically catered to them that they will find valuable; brief audience surveys might help and curate targeted content. Keep emails visually interesting and short. For longer text, push them to your website or other content locations to continue reading. Check out Emma, which has beautiful email templates and helpful campaign tips and resources.
6. Reuse and Recycle
Likely you have a lot of content already at your fingertips that you can look at with an eye to refresh or revamp. Have a long report on the benefits of your program? Pull out one or two interesting data or anecdotal points and create a graphic to share online. Have older newsletters that are long form? Make it a blog post.
7. Use Creative Tools
It can be expensive for a nonprofit to hire graphic designers to develop visuals or infographics for social media, websites, emails or print content. But there are great tools out there so anyone can become a designer. Interested in making an infographic? Try Canva, Easel.ly, Vizualize, among others that offer flexibility in the style to match your brand look.
8. Try Automation
If you want to ramp up your social media and/or content marketing efforts, but are limited on time, look into automation. There are resources that offer free or low-cost subscriptions, like Hootsuite, Buffer, Marketo and CoSchedule.
9. Measure and Revise
To avoid spending time and resources on tactics that aren’t getting results, it’s important to set up a system to measure results. Determine what your key performance indicators are and measure against those on a regular basis and adjust plans accordingly.
Marketing your nonprofit should be a priority to raise awareness and increase engagement and support your fundraising efforts. Following these strategies will help those efforts seem more doable and affordable. Stay consistent to see real results and make sure to measure, adjust and experiment to find what is best for your organization
Leeann Alameda has more than 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, branding, communications and advertising in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She is the founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, which provides marketing strategy and branding services for nonprofits, foundations and mission-driven businesses.