If you’re a for-profit company, marketing usually comes down to one thing: You’ve got to spend money to make money. It goes without saying then that non-profit marketing is an entirely different process altogether. When you don’t have the money to spend, how to do you maintain enough of an income to keep your company afloat? Non-profit start-ups have numerous other questions: What promotional strategies are cheap and yet still viable enough to spend precious funding on? Where can you find volunteers? How can you win over supporters?
Look to this handy guide for the answers to those questions and more.
1. Brand yourself. This is sound advice for any start-up, not merely a non-profit. You want your group to be immediately recognizable. When people see your logo on the street – whether it’s on personalized T-shirts or a sign in a shop – they should recognize what it is you do. With time, your brand can become iconic – but only if it’s strong to start.
Branding obviously isn’t just about the literal logo you choose. It’s your company philosophy, structure and services. It may take a little time to uncover these and discover what it is that works best about your non-profit, and what aspects of your services stand out the most.
It also helps to have a slogan. While a good logo should tell folks what it is you offer – a picture being worth a thousand words, after all – your slogan is an opportunity to catch the audience’s attention and get yourself noticed. And as a non-profit, you’ll have to do a lot of that.
2. Get out there. Talk with anyone who runs a non-profit and they’ll tell you that the job involves a ridiculous amount of public speaking. Sometimes it’s not the actual head of the company – often there’s a spokesperson or show runner who takes care of this. But regardless, non-profits require a team that’s willing to be gregarious, charming and able to win over donors and sponsors.
Without the traditional allocation for marketing, non-profits have to find other ways to raise money. More often than not, this is done through campaigning and finding a generous base of supporters. However, getting word out about your company doesn’t always mean speechifying. You can use other affordable tactics as well, such as non-profit promotional products. These do a great job of spreading the word, while allowing your supporters and sponsors to show their pride in your company.
3. Keep in regular with sponsors and donors. Once you’ve gathered support, don’t let it slip away. Email and social media are two of your best friends in your non-profit’s campaign. Constantly reach out to those who have backed you financially or with favors in the past.
It’s important to reach out to all and any supporters on a regular basis. If you’re a pet adoption agency, send out email alerts to previous adopting pet parents – even though they’ve already brought a dog or cat into their home, as these individuals are part of your network now and can pass on the good word. Likewise, if you’re an independent center for creative writing that offers classes and seminars to adult and teen students alike, don’t forget to send out regular updates on new scholarship opportunities, classes or coupons.
4. Rally the volunteers. Non-profits will always rely on their supporters and sponsors for more than just funding – these individuals have to believe in the cause and purpose of your company. Whether that’s community education, animal shelters, local ecological conservancy or whatever else, you’ll find that much of your network backs your non-profit’s mission just as much as the company itself.
It’s this kind of popularity that can help non-profits rally volunteers when they need them. Whether they’re office interns who help keep the business side of things running or the charity event workers who pour drinks or hand out promotional items like custom water bottles to the attending sponsors, you’ll find these volunteers indispensable.
5. Create a web presence. Your immediate geographical community is going to be essential when it comes to raising your start-up non-profit from the ground up. However, in the modern day and age, community and supporters aren’t bound by city lines. Establishing a web presence isn’t just important for keeping in touch with your current sponsors via Twitter, Facebook or email, it’s vital that you draw new interest online as well.
Make sure you have a dynamic website that’s both easy on the eyes and a breeze to navigate. Once again, rely on goodwill and belief in your cause to find talent that’s willing to help you with your site’s user interface and design at a discount or pro bono.
If you’ve got office interns with writing skills, why not offer them the fun job of interfacing with fans online, drumming up new business and supporters through Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media. Moving forward, the Internet is guaranteed to be an essential part of your business model.
Have your own non-profit marketing tips? We’d love to hear your suggestions.