Inexpensive Advertising Strategies to Help Your Nonprofit

Donate to Charity

Francis Dean / Contributor / Getty Images

If you are involved in the marketing and advertising of a nonprofit, you know that money is always a concern. So how do you get people to donate without blowing the budget? Here are six tips to get you started.

1. Ask Promotional Experts to Donate Their Services or Work at Reduced Rates

Almost every ad agency, PR consultant, and freelancer has a special discounted rate for charity work and nonprofits. Though, it may still put them way out of your league financially, even if it’s 50 percent off.

If you really want that particular expert, whether they’re a copywriter, art director, designer, producer, or any other specialist, sit down with them and have a frank conversation. Tell them what you need, what you can afford, and what you could give them instead of money. For instance, some people will donate their services free of charge in exchange for some great work for their portfolio. Others will do it to network or expand on their skill set. The biggest lesson here is simply this: If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

2. Take Advantage of the Google Ad Grants Program

If you have a worthy enough cause, you can get some serious free money to spend on Google ads. Designed to help charitable organizations grow and solicit donations, the Ad Grants program could set up your nonprofit with $10,000 in Google advertising every single month. That’s $120,000 per year in marketing, at absolutely no cost to you.

Of course, it’s not just as simple as filling out a form and receiving the free placements. You have to pass the eligibility checks. To start, you’ll need to demonstrate that your nonprofit is a valid charity and has a functioning, detailed website.

3. Create Something That Has Great Shareability

The word “viral” is heavily abused in advertising these days. And when someone asks for a viral video, what they are really saying is “get me millions of impressions for the least amount of money possible.”

With most industries, that’s tough. But when it comes to nonprofits, there is a natural tendency for people to want to share what they see because they know they will be helping a good cause. They are not going to share something boring, however, so think about stories you can tell that connect with people on an emotional level.

4. Get a Donate Button Added to Your Facebook Page

Anytime you can get something to legitimize your nonprofit—and solicit revenue—you have to jump on it. The Donate button on Facebook is a perfect way to do both, and it takes very little effort on your part.

To begin, you must be the administrator for your organization's Facebook page, and you will have to enroll your nonprofit with Facebook Payments.

5. Consider an Email Campaign

Email marketing is much cheaper than other types of promotional campaigns and enables you to easily test the effectiveness of your messaging. You'll need to grab recipients' attention with a captivating subject line; if they never open your email, they're not going to make a donation.

6. Spread the Word Through Events and Engagements

You may not have the money for a fully integrated advertising campaign, but you can utilize your cause to create some events and speaking engagements that are very economical and do a great job of spreading the word for you.

Can you speak at a school or business about the work that you do and how important it is? If so, get someone to film it and put it online.

You could apply to talk at a local TEDx event; there are many around the country, but you need to have a good story to tell.

You could also host a fundraiser with a unique angle that will appeal to local TV stations and other media outlets.

Get smart about the way you promote yourself, and you can see small financial investments bring about outsized returns.