The Ultimate List of 50 Nonprofit Marketing Ideas

Are you a nonprofit looking for creative ways to thrive and grow but feel limited by a small budget? Perhaps you are a large nonprofit seeking to function and market more efficiently.  Do you want to make the most of your organization’s resources? If so, this list is for you! Here’s a useful  compilation of marketing ideas gathered from various successful nonprofits.

Purpose & Image

  1. Create a clear, powerful tagline that you want others to associate with your organization. This short phrase or sentence sums up your purpose and passion; it will help potential clients know what you do and potential donors know what and who they would be supporting.
  2. Establish clear protocols for your leadership regarding design, personality, and attitude. If the whole leadership team and all employees practice a high, positive standard for the way they represent the company, the public will feel that they can trust and respect your organization. Being consistent in the way your team represents the company is important because it shows professionalism and confidence. Strive for excellence in every aspect of your work!
  3. Consider a new brand identity. Perhaps your brand needs fresh designs for your image and logo. For supporters and others who work with you via the Internet, your online representation is an important opportunity to show that you’re modern and open to improvement and progress.
  4. Share your organization’s results and objectives. Regardless of whether you’re a small or large nonprofit, people like to see honest results and strong purpose. It’s helpful to the public when you show who receives your services and who is involved with your activities and projects. People appreciate your organization more when you provide a database of information about how your organization has impacted the community it serves.
  5. Share a list of your organization’s strengths. When others see how confident you are in your services, they will be more willing to work with you and support you. Making a list not only gives others a good idea of how much you do, but it can also help you reflect on the influence you have in your community, leading to new ideas, improvement, and strategies.
  6. Make storytelling an essential part of your marketing. As a nonprofit, you exist for the good of those in need. This is partially why storytelling is important; it gives voices to those you support. Telling the stories of those you work with can also draw supporters. It helps them see how important this cause is and how they can help, and it allows you to reflect on real-life examples of your organization’s presence in the community.
  7. Set up a stable marketing plan. Develop a roadmap and sustainable goals, so you can be confident in the work you do in the coming years. Once you’re well-established as a nonprofit, you can focus even more heavily on your cause. It’s important to know where you want the organization to be in a given number of years and how you want to be helping others down the line.

Media & Technology

  1. Create a website for your organization, and update it often. Your website is often your first impression on donors, volunteers, employees, supporters, and clients. It’s an important source of information on your cause and purpose, as well as other particulars, such as statistics and stories.
  2. Stay up-to-date with social media. Know what’s popular and important to people. Utilize YouTube; almost half of all internet users use it, and the site gets a billion unique visitors each month! Consider making Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram accounts to cover the major social media platforms; be involved in those communities.
  3. Create a blog. Start and maintain a blog for your organization. Blogging is an effective way to share current happenings within or extending from your nonprofit, providing information for those who want to learn more about your organization before becoming involved or those who simply want to keep up with your activities. You can write on a range of topics, including tips for other nonprofits, current news, or simply share phenomenal experiences your organization has had with others. Sharing tips on a blog can demonstrate expertise, and providing free information will expand your positive impact.
  4. Connect your blog, website, and social media into a network. Use backlinks and directories, so that people can easily view extra information or explore suggested ideas. Connecting your network to the larger conversation opens new opportunities for your website visitors. Making your website and online presence intuitive and navigable gives your visitors a good experience, which makes them more likely to visit frequently or share it with others.
  5. Showcase your social presence. On your website, provide significant numbers or statistics to first provide evidence of your influence, and then display other important goals your organization has reached. This can also include client testimonials. Provide links to all your social media accounts on your homepage, so visitors can easily connect in various ways.
  6. Make your copy stand out. On your website, in letters and emails, and even on merchandise, a clever or witty phrase can be extremely appealing. See what kind of engagement results from sharing impressive statistics about your organization. If you have a long sentence or idea that you want to share, reword it to be concise and clear, so that people can grasp it easily. Adding graphics to your copy will increase the visual appeal.
  7. Use multi-channel marketing.  After designing a message and schedule, organize a system of following up with and reaching people through the website, social media, email, phone, and mail. People are so busy nowadays that one method of communication is often not enough to get their attention. One email may be overlooked, so a phone call can be a helpful follow-up. With whichever media you decide to use, keep your message consistent throughout all the steps in order to remain clear in your purpose.
  8. Go an extra step when you send messages. Offer calls to action in the messages you send. Simply stating your goals may not be enough to move people to interact with your organization’s cause, so asking them to respond in a specific way can bring about more results and progress.
  9. Use video to appeal to emotion. If your budget allows, creating videos and using images to appeal to emotions can be great for persuasion. Even short videos or just one superb image can be extremely powerful. A video can be easily viewed, conveying meaningful information quickly, and people appreciate artful use of media.

Costs & Budgeting

  1. Unbrand. Keep mailing costs down by sending direct mail in unbranded envelopes. It mainly keeps the cost low, but it also keeps the focus what is within the envelope.
  2. Combine printing. Keep costs down by strategizing your printing; have many things printed at the same time. It seems like a small thing, but “job batching” can save your organization considerable money.
  3. See if your organization qualifies for a “Donate Now” button on your Facebook page. Providing an easy and secure way for supporters to give to your cause can encourage more giving because it is convenient and visible.
  4. Establish an annual marketing budget and stick to it.  By following a good strategy and sticking to a good budget, you can achieve maximum results. Not only does this help you manage costs, but it also gives you an idea of where you can go and what new things you can do to make your nonprofit even better.
  5. Make use of cause marketing. Have you ever seen the donation buckets at your local grocery store? This is an example of cause marketing–a nonprofit teaming up with a for-profit business for mutual benefits. This can be useful if you are seeking to promote your nonprofit’s cause in the community, and it’s an easy way to garner extra funds.
  6. Create a budget specifically for promoting content on social media. Whether you’re a small, medium, or large organization, it can be helpful to designate a set amount to make your organization and cause known on social media. This not only reaches a wider audience, but it also helps to establish your presence on the Internet.
  7. Amazon Smile. Amazon has a program for nonprofits called Amazon Smile; your organization can collect 0.5% of your supporter’s eligible Amazon purchases. Let your donors, clients, staff, and other supporters know that they can link their Amazon account to donate to your organization every time they buy something from Amazon. It’s easy to set up, simply requiring the selection of your organization on the Amazon website, and is no extra cost to the buyer.
  8. Experiment with premiums. It’s worth it to test premiums! Giving donors a small gift can sometimes move them to give again or become more involved somehow. Premiums can be a worthwhile investment for nonprofits looking to increase their number of donors or gift amounts, as well as attract more supporters in the long run.

Advertising Strategies Online and Offline

  1. Utilize the Google Grant (Pay-per-click). Taking advantage of the Google Grant will help boost awareness of your nonprofit on the Internet without the massive Google advertising cost. All you have to do is apply for the grant, which provides $10k monthly in Google advertising funds.  
  2. Sell T-shirts and other items with your name and cause on it. Supporters can help your nonprofit advertise by simply wearing or using items with your organization’s name and cause. This gets your presence noticed offline and can help your organization been seen in a more tangible, influential light.
  3. Encourage supporters to start a birthday/holiday fundraiser. This can make giving more meaningful. Supporters can organize their own birthday or holiday fundraiser event, and, instead of receiving gifts, that person can direct people to make donations directly to your organization or set up an online giving site that accepts donations from friends and family.
  4. Personalize strategically. Every company has limited time and resources, so personalize with purpose. Only customizing meaningful things can be a huge way to save money, as well as emphasize your cause solely on quality pieces.
  5. Identify “Brand Evangelists” in your organization. Look for someone in your organization who can be the face of the company. It should be someone in leadership who will be with the company for a long time. People like to associate an organization with a face, and it also makes the experience feel more like human interaction than working with a vague, distant company.
  6. Mine your data. Have someone review your numbers, so that you can discover patterns, analyze results, predict possible outcomes, and draw your attention to points your organization needs to better address. It is worth it if you are planning for future costs, as well as seeking evidence to support improvement areas.
  7. Get offline donors online and online activists offline. For donors you are in contact with offline, provide at least one option for connecting with them online–email, your website, or social media. For online supporters, create an opportunity to request their mailing addresses, so you can reach out in a different way. This covers a broader spectrum, deepens existing connections, and can open new opportunities for both offline and online relations!
  8. Send out specialized appeals. Instead of your typical general advertisement, try identifying key supporters or associates you want to re-establish or deepen a relationship with. Take time to customize your appeal for them, so that they see that you are also invested in them and what they care about. As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In this case, you can show you care by expressing your interest in them and desire to help them in return.
  9. Downscale. Look at what larger organizations are doing, and try creating your own version within the parameters of your budget and resources. You’ll get a similar impact with more manageable and realistic goals in relation to your size and budget. Sometimes it can help to reevaluate your priorities and limitations and determine whether or not your nonprofit is spending time and money in the right places and for the most important things.

Partnerships & Donors

  1. Develop a welcome package.  A welcome package can include things like branded pens, notepads, magnets, stickers, and mugs to get people excited about working with you and let them know how much you appreciate them. They’ll be glad to get a gift, and it can also increase awareness of your organization as your materials are used.
  2. Choose the best time to send messages. It can be difficult for donors to keep track of messages in every social media they participate in. Figuring out what days and times to send emails and post on social media can increase the likelihood that the donors will see it and be able to respond. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally good days, but weekends and late at night can also be prime times to catch people who are checking their email and scrolling through social media.
  3. Seek to form influential partnerships. For-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike need networks and people with a variety of experiences in order to thrive. Learning from those who have done what you want to achieve or being able to simply follow their example can bring your nonprofit to places you cannot get to on your own. This also provides opportunities to form valuable friendships with quality people.
  4. Take a donor or influencer out to lunch. A practical application of forming influential partnerships is treating a donor or influencer to lunch. Intentionally pursuing personal relationships with leaders, donors, and strong influencers shows appreciation and leads to more opportunities to help others. Learn how your organization has helped with their challenges. Ask if you have been meeting their expectations or if there are things your organization can do better. “Breaking bread” together fosters deeper connections, and face-to-face conversation can be much more powerful and memorable than online communication.
  5. Re-engage lapsed donors. Review your list of donors, and reach out to those you have lost touch with, offering benefits or a reintroduction gift. Sometimes lapsed donors will want to get involved with your nonprofit again; you just have to reach out and re-engage. Remind them of your organization’s purpose and passion!
  6. Offer donors a sustainer program. Ask donors to participate in a program that involves giving a certain amount to your nonprofit monthly. Rhythm and stability are important; donors need to be able to trust you and know that you’ll use their donations wisely. Plus, you’ll get a steady amount of support to sustain your ongoing efforts.
  7. Practice good stewardship. Follow up with donors, and manage their money appropriately. Show them how their money is being used. As mentioned previously, donors like to know that they can trust you with their gift. Proving that you value their support and that you can use their donations properly increases their willingness to support you and share your message.
  8. Remember: The donor is always right. If or when a donor expresses disappointment or points out flaws in your cause or service, make a diligent effort to make things right. Listen and respond to their concerns. Take responsibility, and be open to improvement.  When your supporters are satisfied with your interactions, they’re more likely to have a long-term relationship with your organization.

Communication with Supporters and Donors

  1. Be timely. Nothing says you’re able to manage your nonprofit excellently more than superb communication. Promptly and professionally responding to messages shows respect for their time and concerns. Don’t make them wait long, or they may feel that you don’t care and have forgotten about them.
  2. Map out communications to track and improve messaging. This can help if you have a large organization or have trouble responding promptly to messages. Keep track by assigning certain communication roles to specific staff members, so there will be consistency in how messages are checked and written. For phone calls, meetings, or other assignments that need to be completed, stay organized by using online programs, such as Google Sheets, Google Calendar, or Asana. There’s a vast variety of free and low-cost organizing and scheduling options. Paper or whiteboard might even work best for some.
  3. Survey existing donors and clients. Stay in touch with those who are supporting your cause and organization. This is important in order to maintain good relationships and gain valuable feedback. It can help you better care for the community your organization serves if you deepen those relationships and seek your regular donor’s feedback.
  4. Get supporters involved. Supporters can do so much more than simply give money. They are amazing people with great influence in their communities, and their unique talents will bring your message to life. They can promote your cause by holding their own fundraisers, speaking about your cause, or even by advertising for you.
  5. Host contests and regular events. Make good use of all your social media to raise awareness of your cause and events run by your organization. Involve online users by creating contests your followers can vote on. Regular events give people something to look forward to on a consistent basis, so supporters remain involved. Each event is also an opportunity for someone new to learn about your organization and cause.
  6. Organize speaking engagements. Book an engagement where you can share about your nonprofit and cause. An event can be an opportunity for your organization’s message to be recorded and posted online or discussed in person. In the current social media-driven world, people might tweet or post ideas and quotes from your talks or videotape your talk to share online.
  7. Maintain your prospect and customer databases. Make the most of your resources. You can keep your supporters and donors updated by performing follow-up telephone calls, mailing special letters, and inviting them to your organization’s special events. If you need help attracting more clients, make use of research profiling to understand patterns better. Search engine and text-mining tools can be used to allow research profiling in order to gain information from many databases.
  8. Encourage those you interact with to share their personal experiences in working with your organization. Often, people your organization interacts with are the best help in spreading the word about your cause, especially if they’ve had outstanding experiences with your organization. They’re witnesses to your work and the attitude and impact of your organization.
  9. Be positive in your outlook. A positive attitude and enthusiasm about your cause can be transferred to your staff, volunteers, those you serve, and donors. Even if your organization is currently struggling, remember that your cause is important. There may be trouble spots throughout your experience, but don’t give up. Nonprofits have a special, vital place in this world!

Special thanks to CharityNetUSA, Forbes, AZ Central, NonprofitPro, Meltwater, The Fundraising Authority, Kissmetrics, and CauseVox for the ideas and inspiration! Image Credit.


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