Nonprofits run on tight budgets and it can be tricky to raise awareness for your cause with limited funds. Thankfully, there are marketing strategies nonprofit organizations can implement to make the most of their pennies.

This article shares tools to develop a marketing strategy, engage with your audience, and hopefully, find new supporters and donors along the way!

Take Advantage of Nonprofit Programs and Content Marketing Resources

Free Advertising on Google

Image of Google on a desktop and a cell phone.

The Google Ad Grants program donates $10,000 of in-kind advertising to qualifying nonprofit organizations.

How would your nonprofit like to have $10,000 a month to spread the word about its cause every month on For qualified organizations, the Google Ad Grants program does just that. This in-kind advertising could help:

  • Create awareness
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Garner donations

Running and managing Google Ads takes some backend savvy, but with a daily budget of $329 for advertising along with a keyword cost per click max of $2.00, it will be worth the effort to take the time to learn how to share your story and mission.

One pitfall you don’t want to fall into is not using all the money, as it does not accrue. Be sure to make every dollar count by using best pay-per-click practices, and have your volunteers learn how to use keywords, including short–tail keywords, middle-tail keywords, long-tail keywords, and negative keywords to make the most of your advertising dollars and reach the right audience.

There are certain requirements to qualify for the Google Ad Grants Program, such as holding a 501(c)(3) status, having a website with a domain owned name and detailed and clear information on the nonprofit organization. Plus, there are terms to agree to about about receiving and using donations. Certain organizations, like hospitals, schools and government organizations do not qualify, but there is a separate Google program for education.

Promote Your Nonprofit on Facebook

A cell phone with a donate button for a nonprofit.Facebook’s fundraising features for nonprofits include donating buttons and Birthday Fundraisers.

Did you know that over 750,000 nonprofits use Facebook Pages to share their cause and create awareness? Hootsuite notes that 1.47 billion people use Facebook daily; a nonprofit Page can share your message all over the world, including events and organized activities. Nonprofits will also want to consider creating a dedicated group for their supporters and use Facebook’s fundraising tools to collect donations and allow their supporters to help raise funds with donate buttons as well as Birthday Fundraisers. Another benefit is access to donation transaction reports in the reporting features.

If you are wondering if Facebook is the right social platform for your nonprofit, here are stats from Nonprofits Source:

  • 18% of donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools
  • 88% say they are likely to give through Facebook fundraising in the future
  • 84% of Facebook users share to show their support for a cause and highlight issues that are important to them
  • Facebook refers 29.4% of traffic to donation pages on #GivingTuesday

Like the Google Ad Grants Program, there are criteria nonprofits need to meet.

The Impact of Visual Content

A woman doctor holding an African childn. Visual content is a powerful tool to convey a nonprofit’s mission and goals. Photo credit: Franco Volpato via 123RF.

Whether a nonprofit has been approved for the Google Ads Grant Program or is developing content marketing for social media channels, high-quality visuals are essential to any successful marketing campaign. According to HubSpot, compelling visuals can generate up to 94% more views and an engagement increase of 37%. Also, if an image is paired with information, 65% of people are more likely to retain that information.

What types of visuals should you share? At the core, you’ll want to focus on images that convey the nonprofit’s mission and its impact. However, images can also speak to the many aspects of the nonprofit, such as staff and volunteers who work behind the scenes and those who have benefited from the nonprofit’s goals. Images can also share stats in infographics and promote videos.

Instagram is an image-centered social media platform, and according to The Balance Small Business, over half the users are between the ages of 18-29. This age group and millennials are known to be very active in giving for a cause and appealing to them on a platform they use could generate new supports and donors. Nonprofits don’t have to spend much money to create eye-catching graphics. Free programs like Canva have hundreds of free templates. Before you begin, decide on fonts and use color schemes that match your nonprofit’s brand.

Blog to Spread the Word

A blog flow chart for a blog with hands pointing items on the chart.Blogging allows nonprofits to share their story their way and can be easily shared and reshared with supporters.

Studies show that regular blogging increases traffic to a website and according to Hubspot, “Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between 0-4 monthly posts.”

While nonprofits are not companies in a traditional sense, they do want to drive consumers to their websites and create awareness for their causes and missions. One way to think of consistent blogging is as a free publicity tool that provides opportunities to share information with consumers, who might be potential donors and/or volunteers, and as a way make the nonprofit an authority on the subject. Another benefit of regular blogging is that it provides more content for search engines.

With a blog, nonprofits can tell their story, their way, but don’t focus solely on the organization. Think creatively and strategically about ways to share the story from multiple angles, such as:

  • Share milestones
  • Post about breaking news and your organization’s take on it
  • Promote upcoming or past events
  • Share stories, behind the scenes and highlight those in the forefront
  • Feature stories about supporters that have helped your nonprofit’s cause
  • Embed videos
  • Share stats in a digestible infographics

A blog’s versatility goes beyond a post on your website; it is a powerful leveraging tool to share on social media, in email campaigns and monthly newsletters, and can be shared and re-shared by your followers.

Connect With Your Supporters

A group of people standing in front of a sign that says community with symbols around it.

Newsletter and email campaigns are one of the most effective marketing strategies for sharing the latest news with subscribers interested in a nonprofit’s cause.

Email is one of the most effective marketing strategies because it taps into a captive community be it for a business, brand or cause. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing provided a “4400% return on investment and $44 for every $1 spent” in 2018. Investing time into an email campaign and a monthly newsletter can go a long way to increase brand visibility, engage with supporters, find new supports and raise donations.

Before starting your campaigns, follow these best practices:

  • Plan in advance by creating an editorial calendar
  • Keep to a consistent emailing schedule
  • Test the email before you press send

After you send out the email, remove any hard bounce emails (this means the email address isn’t good) and review reporting data to find out what recipients are responding to and ways to improve the newsletter and its content.

Email and newsletter design is vital to audience engagement as users’ size up an email in less than a second.

What should you share in a newsletter?

  • Upcoming Events
  • Blog posts
  • Powerful images
  • News about volunteers
  • Updates about the cause or those affected
  • Always include call-to-action buttons
  • Don’t shy away from creating a sense of urgency for time-sensitive donation requests

Constituent relationship management systems or CRMs streamline staying in touch with subscribers. You might have heard of MailChimp and Constant Contact, but there are CRMs that offer pricing and unique features for nonprofits like Salsa CRM, Aplos, NeonCRM, and you can learn more here.

For more information on email marketing tips review this guide by Campaign Monitor.

Be Savvy with Social Media

Millennials walking and looking at their cell phones.Social media has the potential to reach supporters across the globe, and nonprofits need to use the platforms their audience prefers.

Social media is a way for nonprofits to connect with their supporters and engage with them daily. Businesses are often tempted to be on all platforms, and with stats like these by Hootsuite for average monthly users, it is tempting to follow suit:

  • Instagram: 1 billion
  • Facebook: 2.32 billion
  • Twitter: 321 million
  • Pinterest: 250 million
  • LinkedIn: 610 million
  • Snapchat: 186 million
  • YouTube: 1.9 billion

However, to be savvy with social media any business needs to be choosy. With limited funds and volunteer resources, a nonprofit will first need to cater to their current customer base and their platform of choice. When adding on additional social platforms, take the time to understand each platform, who uses it, and then review how the organization’s resources can be allocated.

Build a Marketing Strategy

A sign with marketing plan and fingers pointing to parts of the process.Building a marketing plan based on SMART goals.

With these programs and tools, you are now ready to brainstorm ideas, understand your audience, assess your resources and budget, and build a marketing strategy with SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Once your marketing strategy is in place, check in after the first quarter to review the data, to see if your plan is meeting the nonprofit’s goals and make changes if necessary.

Ask Three Girls Media How We Can Help

In many cases, nonprofit organizations have volunteers to help with digital marketing tasks, and while their budgets are tight, hiring a digital marketing firm with extensive knowledge of current trends, branding and more, could save a nonprofit hours of frustration and launch a content marketing campaign in the right direction, even if it is just for consulting.

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