Nonprofit marketing - NorthCoast Banners

7 Tips For Nonprofit Marketing On A Budget

Nonprofit marketing is constantly changing and adapting. Stay on top with these 7 proven tips, tricks, and ideas for nonprofit marketing at little or no cost.

Nonprofit marketing - NorthCoast Banners
Looking to make a social impact without breaking the bank? These tips will help you utilize proven tools to create a nonprofit marketing plan and get your name out there.

1. Design A Unique Logo to Optimize Nonprofit Marketing

The first step in nonprofit marketing is to design a unique logo for your organization. Your logo is what people will see and remember. It’s what you will put on your materials, your building, and more! Your logo can tell people who you are, what you do, and why you matter. 

Think about colors, symbols, words, and images associated with your mission and values… But avoid cliches (e.g. hearts, holding hands)! Consider long term costs associated with your logo – you may want to limit the number of colors in your artwork, as printing this logo later on vinyl and plastic roll banners, shirts, etc. (see step 2) will be less expensive if you limit it to 1 or 2 colors. 

Starlight Foundation - Plastic Roll Banners
Starlight Children’s Foundation uses just 2 colors, a whimsical font, and clear imagery in their logo

Note: White does not count as a color for printing costs. North Coast Banners has a helpful blog with art requirements to consider when you create your logo. There are lots of low-cost design tools available (check out Tailor Brands or Looka) to help you create a high quality logo in-house, without paying top dollar for a commercial design pro. 

2. Create Cost-Effective Marketing Materials

Once you have a solid brand logo, you are ready for nonprofit marketing and getting your name out there! Consider what will be the most effective materials to create and distribute. A fantastic, affordable option is Plastic Roll Banners. At just $0.15 per banner, roll banners can make a huge impact at any size event without breaking the bank! 

It is especially important to keep your brand in focus in today’s hyper-distracted, phone-addicted consumer world, so roll banners that can easily and affordably cover an event or space can be a gamechanger. 

Additionally, as a nonprofit, you’ll want to be socially/environmentally conscious – and many plastic roll banners are biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable. You can use roll banners for large scale events, fundraisers, tabling at community events, and even around your offices!

Plastic Roll Banners - Nonprofit marketing
The ALS Association utilizes Plastic Roll Banners for signage and easily distributed collateral for walk attendees

3. Cultivate Brand Ambassadors

Branding isn’t only about slapping your logo on mugs, t-shirts, or pens. While much of the brand and marketing focus in the nonprofit sector has been about fundraising and communications, times are changing – quickly! Nowadays, truly progressive nonprofits see the potential of branding to increase visibility, gain support, and enlist brand ambassadors. 

A smart nonprofit marketing plan will leverage these ambassadors to deliver its mission and promote its programs. Once you’ve found some dedicated volunteers and supporters, make sure they understand your mission and values and have an “elevator speech” prepared to share about your nonprofit. 

You will also want to be sure to equip them with the necessary materials to get your name out there. This is another great use of signage and plastic roll banners. Your ambassadors can help splash your logo all over their photos shared on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram by keeping these inexpensive, easy-to-store banners on hand. 

4. The Value of Events for Nonprofit Marketing

One of the most critical aspects to nonprofit marketing is putting yourself in the shoes of the public. Think about what your supporters want to see when they engage with your nonprofit and go from there. What kind of events would the general public be interested in? What would appeal to your existing supporters?

You can start small – consider hosting an open house or event in your community to allow people to get to know your organization and the work you do. You can have guest speakers, perhaps people who have been served by your work, and an opportunity for people to learn about topics related to your mission. 

The goal is to give people a reason to attend your event and see what you’re about. 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute promotes their brand at major events such as their Marathon Challenge

Reach out to organizations who serve similar populations and find out what community outreach opportunities are out there. Most events hosted by cities, schools, and libraries are free to attend and can be an easy way to promote your nonprofit. 

And remember the key to any event – plaster you name/logo EVERYWHERE! Keeping budget in mind, the versatility of plastic roll banners can save money and effort. For example, even industry giant Subaru utilized plastic roll banners to create a quick photo backdrop or logo wall area (scroll down to the second image for reference). 

5. Create A Marketing Budget – And Stick To It

Start with a plan and timeline detailing how much money you will need to enact your nonprofit marketing strategy, and where these funds will be used. Consider staff costs, materials, and if you will incur professional expenses. 

Make sure there is a specific individual taking a leading role in managing the budget to ensure that there is accountability to get the job done. 

Don’t spend beyond your means. Although we know the phrase, “you have to spend money to make money,” as a nonprofit you need to be very cognizant of how you are spending donor funds. If you are going to introduce an expense, consider how it will benefit it your nonprofit and how you can maximize the use. 

Keep in mind that the Better Business Bureau recommends that at least 65 percent of a nonprofit’s total expenses should be for programs – and the best nonprofits allocate even more than that.

6. Leverage Partnerships for Nonprofit Marketing

You don’t have to go it alone to create a strong nonprofit marketing plan. In fact, it shouldn’t be a solo venture at all! Strategic partnerships can expand the reach of your organization and your marketing efforts. 

Look for ways to work with the people and organizations who share goals and can lend resources to help advance your work. These might include other nonprofits with similar or objectives, local volunteer groups, businesses looking for philanthropy opportunities, or local and federal government agencies.

And don’t forget media coverage! Promote yourself and your nonprofit –  send a press release about your organization’s accomplishments to local media outlets. Utilize your brand ambassadors to make connections, as well. This step alone can create a substantial marketing opportunity.

7. Be A Treasure Hunter – Utilize Talent for Nonprofit Marketing 

Start digging and getting to know the people are your organization! Never underestimate the talents that lie within your employees, volunteers and even yourself. When you’re first diving into nonprofit marketing, you will find that many of the folks on the team anticipate wearing multiple hats to help get things off the ground. 

Reach out and see what your staff, donors, volunteers, and supporters are capable of. You may find that you don’t need to hire expensive pros for every aspect of your marketing plan – with some training and software, you might be able to do it at a fraction of the cost. 

Plus, if you assume that every member of your staff or volunteer team has something to contribute to your marketing strategy, you will have the bonus result of invigorating and engaging your base! 

There’s no one trick to nonprofit marketing, but following some of the suggestions above will start you down the right path. Do your homework, research, and reach out. 

About the Author: Shoshana Simones has dedicated her career to the nonprofit sector, program development, volunteerism, brand strategies, and social media management. She holds a degree in Art History with a minor in Design, and a Master’s in Art Education with an emphasis in Museum Studies. Shoshana has worked with many local and national nonprofit organizations in roles including volunteer management, program management, grant writing, marketing, and fundraising. She has worked within the for-profit sector with businesses looking to optimize their marketing and social media reach. 

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