Photo of a volunteer putting rubbish into a bag on a beach

Marketing Mini Guide: Not For Profit Organisations

Promoting a not for profit organisation requires an online presence to add legitimacy, and to help people make donations and engage with resources from anywhere, at any time. Offline initiatives then allow for in person engagement, connection and to add excitement to the organisations initiatives.

In general, you want to be able to help people who need your offering to find you, as well to present information to donors as to why they should donate.

Your Website

It’s important to share your story and your team on your website. People love to know who is behind the organisation, why it was started, how it functions, who it serves, and how much of the donations go to the people who benefit most.

Allow for donations to be made online through a credit card facility, as well as to allow people to subscribe to make regular donations. You may also like to share bank account information for transfers, and details on how a tax receipt might be received.

When possible, share details about how much precise the donation can provide. This could include making packages, to show what each donation could supply. For example, KidsCan shares that “$50 helps provide a jacket and a pair of shoes to keep kids warm and dry”, while “$100 helps give 50 hot meals to fuel hungry kids”. This helps people to see the tangible impact of their donation, and incentivises a larger, or regular donation.

Allow people to access digital resources whenever possible, especially when those you serve may not be able to visit your office or make a phone call during office hours.

Share success stories of those you have helped, with testimonials, stories and imagery to help people to understand the needs of the communities you serve, as well as the impact your organisation has had.

You might choose to start with a no code platforms like Squarespace or Webflow to help your team easily manage the website. Before choosing which platform you will set up, review how you want to receive donations, what other software you might need the site to integrate with in the future, and who might manage the website in future. While it can be tempting to have one member of the team or a volunteer set up a website on a software they know well, it is always worthwhile to choose a platform that will allow multiple members of the team to add content or edit the website without much technical know-how to better the future the resilience of your organisation.

You might like to add a secure link to your website, where people can visit a shielded site for assistance leaving an unsafe home, so their search does not show in their browser’s history. This is particularly helpful if you don’t serve people in areas that a Women’s Refuge or other service would, so the person feels safe visiting your site instead.

You should also make sure you take photos and video of the following to include on your website:

  1. Donation events
  2. Your team and volunteers
  3. The communities you serve
  4. The tangible items you supply to those communities
  5. Before and after photos if there is a transformation at play
  6. Your process

For best search engine optimisation:

  • Fill out all meta titles and descriptions on all pages
  • Set up Google Search Console and submit your sitemap
  • Make sure all possible descriptions of your services and the communities you serve on the website
  • Get specific on the purpose of each page so that it matches search situations
  • Be sure to compress all images so they aren’t slowing down your site, and add alt text to explain those images for screen readers
  • Create blog posts for the more specific search queries, which can double as resources that can be sent to people you speak with one on one

Social Media Content

For most not for profit organisations, the purpose of your social media will be to get in front of potential donors.

To make the most of each platform:

  • Post consistently in a way that suits that platforms style
  • Regularly share imagery and videos of the impact of the organisation
  • Regularly share the stories of your team and volunteers, as well as stories from donors if any would like to share publicly
  • Reply to all messages and comments within 2-3 business days
  • Collaborate with your suppliers, or partners to create content that showcases their assistance to your organisation
  • Share people’s posts when they tag you, including Stories sharing on Instagram, or dueting TikToks or remixing Reels

Social Media Advertising

This would be a place to run awareness ads and traffic ads to get people to your website. It can also be a place for conversion ads if you take donations online. You can show up in front of people in your area, who are most likely to be interested in donating, and retarget those who have viewed your content before but not visited your website or the donation page. This might be used for a specific annual event, so that the awareness of that particular date is wider, rather than a regular investment.

Graphic image of two volunteers putting trash into a bag at a park

Google Ads

It can be advantageous to run search based ads with a small budget for those looking for organisations to donate to. It can help to be super specific, so that your ads only match the right types of searches, while balancing the volume, so you aren’t paying highly for each click.

Google Ads won’t be a good fit for all organisations, and may be something that is a short term solution, while the awareness is grown to where people start to share on their own.

Influencer Marketing

Collaborative influencer marketing is also an option for you, but wouldn’t include paid campaigns for most organisations. It is best to pair with those influencers or content creators who have a personal connection to your organisation’s mission and values. You might ask them to share information, invite them to your events to document them on their social accounts, or to be a brand ambassador.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an established and reliable form of marketing, since it allows for people to be kept up to date with what you are doing, without the interference of an algorithm.  You may need to pay for a software to help you facilitate this, although many softwares have a free plan to get you started. Email is a great space to keep people up to date with your initiatives, and to reach out to them in elevated times of donation requests or events.

If you don't have a website, and plan to combine the email list, blog and website into one combined site, check out Beehiiv.

For those who already have a website separately and are looking for a tool just for email, is Flodesk. Their templates and platform make it super easy to set up.

Whichever you choose, you’ll set up forms on your website, and link to them from social media. This is one of those rare instances, where I would recommend you tell people to sign up to receive updates about your campaigns, since a freebie or incentive isn’t the right fit. You can also add a tick box to your donation form, that allows people to sign up for updates there.

Email marketing is not a framework for cold outreach. This should only be used for the list of people who have opted in.

A welcome sequence is a common way to educate people about yourself and how to reach you after they first subscribe.

Events & Live Campaigns

Fundraising Events

You might choose to run a Gala or Concert to invite people to an event, where their donation is made through a ticket purchase, but they have an experience in return. This also allows people to

You may choose to run silent or live auction of donated items alongside other events. The best donors are those who love to bid big and often donate those prizes to those in need, or to share as gifts.

You may choose to run retreats, or hosted tour trips, if part of your organisation’s mission is to foster community, or where your donors may value networking with one another.

You may like to run local jumble sales, where you host the community to sell their own wares, or take donated items to sell the items. Any proceeds would likely then be collected as donations. If you have regular donors, you can contact them to facilitate the collection of items for sale. You could also run an online version, where you partner with an online seller to reduce the costs and fees.

You may like to try to partner with businesses who can offer products or services, where a portion of the sale is a donation.

You might like to partner with schools to both teach the students about the work your organisation does, and for the students to help fundraise, through mufti day donations, or school events.

Choose an international day, or the birthday of the organisation and make the most noise on this date each year. You can build up to it for months, and then repeat the successes year after year. This also allows you to maximise those relationships from year to year, with repeatable grassroots initiatives. This provides media outlets more to share as well.

Online donation events are also any option where you’d like to involve people from multiple cities or countries. This allows people to follow along online as things happen in the real world and with the team. You may choose to invite someone to speak or perform, and then broadcast that or have theatres around the world playing a broadcast for a fee.

Outreach Events

It is often also beneficial to run events to allow people to come together and share as a community, where you can offer your services and assistance. This can often help people feel more comfortable to come forward and receive assistance, when they may not feel comfortable visiting an office or reaching out. These events might not be all about your organisation, and be in collaboration with other organisations to draw in as many people as possible.

You might like to host regular workshops to teach people on subjects that centre your organisation’s mission, or use your space as a place to host somewhat unrelated events, that still bring people into the space to meet your team, if you need to gain the trust of the community.

Graphic image of volunteers putting trash into a bag at a park

Blog or Podcast

Your team might have enough stories, updates and people to have conversations with to host your own blog or podcast. This can help to reach donors, or can be a core engagement point for those who you serve, to offer free advice and learnings in a one to many format.

Guest blogging and podcasting

Your founder or team may choose to share content to other websites or to be a guest on podcasts to spread the word about your organisation.

You may choose to only implement a few of these platforms to begin with, but as you add to your marketing plan for your not for profit organisation, review how each platform and each tactic could better communicate with those who your organisation serves, and your potential and current donors.

Disclaimer: This blog post is a small guide to some platforms this business type could use to expand their marketing. It is not a marketing plan or marketing strategy and is not tailored completely for your business. If you are looking for a marketing strategy, let’s chat.

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