Promoting your Not-for-Profit Organization
Commercial businesses understand they must have a sound marketing plan for promoting their company, and they will allocate a marketing budget as part of their financial planning. For non-profit and charity organizations this process is equally important but comes with added complications. No-one cares what commercial businesses spend or what they spend it on in terms of marketing, but if you are responsible for making money for charitable purposes, your donors and other interested parties will want to be sure every cent is being spent to the maximum benefit of your good cause.
Why marketing matters
If you want to promote a good cause, a marketing plan is an essential tool. Non-profit organizations have two key responsibilities – raising awareness and raising money. If no-one knows about your work or what you are trying to achieve, you are going to find it hard to get donations for your cause. Your role is to find the most effective forms of marketing for your organisation, for a reasonable cost. You will need to be able to justify the money you spend and be able to prove you have achieved a good return on your investment.
Creating your marketing plan should be a priority, for as soon as you begin marketing you will start to fulfill those key functions of a non-profit, raising awareness and money. You will need to think carefully about how you get your message across and make sure you have researched the most appropriate tactics for your cause. For example, being too aggressive in your approach is likely to put people off rather than engaging them. Just like someone starting up a new business, the first things to take care of are the free and very low-cost steps such as creating an online presence on social media. A website is essential as a platform for providing information about your cause and enabling donating. It is also vital as a showcase for what you are achieving with the donations you’ve received.
With so many options for advertising, it can be difficult to decide what will work best for you. It’s a good idea to find out what has worked for other non-profits in your sector so you can learn from them. Creating links and working in co-operation with similar causes can boost your profile, and one very effective tool you can use is getting your story into the media. If you run a cat rescue center, local papers are likely to be interested in the story of your work, especially if you have some endearing animals to photograph. Approach the journalist who covers this kind of story in your location and let them know about your cause and why it will be of interest to the paper’s readership. You could also hire a PR marketer to write press releases for you; the important thing is to be aware that your cause is newsworthy, and you should be exploiting this fact. Attending events that are relevant to your target market will also provide a good opportunity to promote your cause.
As your organization grows, you might want to branch out into paid advertising, but no matter how much your marketing budget increases, remember you need to show that what you’re doing is working.