Creative Marketing Tactics for Non-profits That Don’t Cost a Dime

July 1, 2019 Jackie Lozaw

For non-profit organizations with limited time and resources, it’s important to find effective affordable ways of communicating with your audience. Your main marketing objectives are likely: 1) to guide traffic to your website; 2) to generate volunteer and financial support; 3) to strengthen awareness for your cause. With Americans spending 12 hours a day in front of screens, your most effective channels will be (surprise!) online. Luckily, these tools are readily available and often free but your success hinges on how well you use them. Here are five of our favorite free creative marketing tips to help you get started:

1) Engage & Interact on Social Media
It’s not news that social media is one of the most effective ways to affordably reach millions of people. To start, do some digging on why people may be following your social media accounts. What’s been most successful so far? What’s your current level of engagement? Do followers look forward to your posts or mindlessly scroll through (this may take some follower surveying)? Instagram, which currently has 500 million daily users and is one of the fastest growing social networks, is quickly becoming the platform of choice for non-profits to share stories in a visually engaging way. The UNICEF Instagram account is a great example of a non-profit posting creative and engaging content. Instagram uniquely enables people to interact with your posts without committing too much time. Using a business account provides data and feedback for you to evaluate for future campaigns. Fun fact: according to Omnicore, photos with faces get 38% more likes. Additionally, the story attribute allows you to personalize your content by making quizzes, surveys, and polls. There’s also the added bonus of getting to know your audience further by asking viewers questions about themselves.

2) Tell A Story…In An Unconventional Way
Whether it be through videos, photos, words or audio, there are multiple ways to tell your story. Your main challenge is to captivate viewers’ attention the moment they access your story. In 2015, The Ad Council released Love Has No Labels for their Diversity & Inclusion campaign. Within 10 seconds, an image of two skeletons embracing–not something you see every day–catches your attention. They’re soon revealed to be two humans with unique relationships to convey the message that love is meant for all people regardless of race, sexuality or ability. This viral campaign told a story through contrasting, poignant imagery. How can you uniquely engage audiences with your story?

3) Teamwork Really Does Make the Dream Work
In less than 24 hours, The Truth Initiative gained over 4 million views for their “Big Tobacco Be Like” videos by partnering with Vine and Instagram stars (The Shorty Awards). This was a resourceful and effective way to reach their target demographic by expanding beyond their follower base. This can go beyond social media,  however, by partnering with local business who shares your values and goals.  This effectively exposes your business to new audiences while also allowing you to adopt new marketing techniques from the partnership.

4. Incorporate Gamification
Originally initiated by friends and relatives of ALS patients, The Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million for the ALS Association for research and prevention. The trend started as a simple challenge to local friends and family but ultimately gained the attention of celebrities such as Oprah, LeBron James and Bill Gates (The Washington Post). The Challenge not only raised money but also greatly increased awareness for the disease. This phenomenon shows the importance of getting people involved by way of gamification–people love a good challenge and are clearly eager to participate in a fun way for a good cause!

5. Dig Into Your Data
Before drafting your brilliant marketing strategies, consult the data. Google Analytics and Facebook offer free and easily obtainable information that you can use to guide future marketing goals. These platforms help to explore and identify audience demographics. Utilize the data so that you can improve your content, expand viewership, identify demographic patterns and understand your audience. Check out our tutorial, Dig Into Your Data, for more information on how to access and apply these tools.

These five free strategies will help you foster a more meaningful relationship with your online audience and help you create engaging content that keeps on giving. Go forth and create! But first, check your data.