We are pleased to share this article with actionable steps for improving your marketing efforts from Jessica King of Getting Attention.
As a nonprofit professional, you likely know that a solid marketing strategy is essential to furthering your organization’s mission. When you can promote your nonprofit effectively, you’ll stand out from other similar organizations, spread the word about your work in the community, and inspire supporters to get involved.
One of the biggest challenges with nonprofit marketing, though, is trying to create a wide range of high-quality materials with limited resources. Nonprofits often have relatively small marketing budgets, and there are many other demands on your staff members’ time.
Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost and free nonprofit marketing tools you can use to promote your organization. In this guide, we’ll walk through the following four ways to make the most of these resources:
- Apply for the Google Ad Grant
- Explore Content Marketing
- Be Active on Social Media
- Create Charity eCards
A best practice in nonprofit marketing is to always leverage multiple communication channels. This way, you’ll create more touchpoints where supporters can learn about and engage with your organization. Let’s dive into the budget-friendly marketing tactics that will help you develop a multi-channel marketing strategy without draining your organization’s resources.
The Google Ad Grant provides a way for nonprofits to tap into paid advertising at no cost to them. Once your organization applies and is approved for the grant, you’ll receive a $10,000 monthly stipend from Google, which you can then use to place ads on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user clicks on your ad from the SERP, they’ll be directed to a landing page on your website, where they can learn more about your mission and take action.
To apply for the Google Ad Grant, follow these steps:
- Make sure your nonprofit is eligible. Most 501(c)(3) organizations with high-quality, secure websites are eligible for the Google Ad Grant, but educational institutions and healthcare organizations aren’t.
- Register with TechSoup if you haven’t already done so. You’ll either need a new validation token from TechSoup or the ability to verify previous registration with them to continue to the next step.
- Create a Google for Nonprofits account. It’s extremely beneficial to have one of these profiles for your organization because it provides free access to Google Workspace and YouTube for Nonprofits in addition to the Google Ad Grant application.
- Fill out and submit your application. Once your Google for Nonprofits account is activated, log in and complete the application, which typically takes about 20 minutes. You’ll hear back about your approval status within a few business days.
According to Getting Attention, your nonprofit can promote a variety of opportunities with the Google Ad Grant, from donating online to registering for an upcoming event to using the services you provide to your community. Just think carefully about how the website content you choose to advertise aligns with your organization’s goals to make the best use of the grant money.
Your website serves as the main information hub for your nonprofit, in addition to being a place for supporters to get involved. To provide an educational experience for website visitors, regularly update your site with blog posts, case studies, and downloadable resources related to your mission and work. This serves as a foundation for content marketing—working to inspire action by first providing relevant information that attracts and retains your audience.
You can increase the visibility of your website’s educational content through search engine optimization (SEO). Implementing SEO strategies can prompt Google’s algorithm to display your content higher up on the SERPs, prompting more users to click on it.
Here are some tips to improve your website’s SEO:
- Create a positive user experience through streamlined navigation, mobile responsiveness, and accessibility.
- Update your blog on a regular basis, such as weekly or bimonthly.
- Choose keywords that are relevant to your mission and naturally incorporate them into your content to help your website rank higher in the search results for those terms.
- Ensure HTML heading tags (H1, H2, etc.) are used in sequentially descending order on every page, as this helps human readers and Google’s algorithm understand the structure of your content.
- Find natural opportunities to build links to your website—for instance, you could seek out guest blogging opportunities where you can include links to your content on other websites.
When done correctly, SEO can drive organic traffic to your website that supplements the paid traffic from the Google Ad Grant and expands your reach even further.
Besides being free to use, the main advantage of social media marketing is that it facilitates multi-directional communication. Not only are you able to promote your nonprofit’s mission and opportunities to supporters, but they can also respond to you and other followers via messages and comments. Plus, they can share your social media posts with their followers, naturally growing your organization’s network.
To leverage social media most effectively, tailor your posts to different platforms. Let’s say you want to promote an upcoming one-off volunteer opportunity at your nonprofit. When posting about it on social media, you could:
- Create an Event on a tool such as PlanHero and share it to Facebook where supporters can easily sign up and share the invite with their friends.
- Design eye-catching graphics for Instagram with short captions that provide an overview of the opportunity and direct followers to sign up at the link in your bio.
- Make a short video for TikTok in which one of your staff members or longtime volunteers advertises the opportunity using in-app features like stickers, filters, and music.
For all of these posts, remember to add relevant hashtags to the caption so that if social media users are searching for a volunteer opportunity in your community or vertical, your post will appear and encourage them to engage with your nonprofit.
While many nonprofits have centered direct mail in their marketing efforts for decades, printing and sending letters to large groups of supporters can quickly become expensive. eCards are digital cards sent via email, that include graphics and a personalized message – which can be tailored to your organization. Charity eCards provide a cost-effective alternative to direct mail that is also more environmentally friendly and appealing to supporters in the digital age.
According to eCardWidget, your organization can leverage charity eCards in a variety of ways, including:
- Advertising upcoming events and opportunities.
- Showing gratitude to donors and volunteers.
- Appreciating your nonprofit’s employees for their hard work.
- Fundraising through online purchases or supplementing tribute donations (which can help with word-of-mouth marketing for your nonprofit).
No matter how your organization uses charity eCards, offer a variety of designs. Supporters will appreciate having multiple options to choose from when participating in eCard fundraising, and recipients of eCards from your nonprofit will find them more engaging if they receive a different design each time.
The ideas in this guide are just four of the many possible ways to promote your nonprofit on a budget. In all of your marketing materials, make sure to incorporate aspects of your organization’s branding such as your logo, color scheme, and writing style. When supporters see consistent visuals and messaging across your website content, Google Ad copy, social media posts, and eCards, your organization will be more recognizable and memorable to them.
About the Author
Jessica King, Business Lead at Getting Attention
Jessica helps nonprofits acquire and manage the Google Ad Grant to expand their impact. Prior to her work at Getting Attention, Jessica worked in nonprofit and higher education organizations focusing on communication and digital marketing, and most recently in search engine optimization in the mission-driven sector. Jessica holds a master’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech. In her free time, you can find her reading, building furniture, and hanging out with her cats, Benny and Olive.