When money is tight: low cost marketing communication activities for NFP organisations
As part of a long term plan, I recently offered my marketing communications and copywriting services on a pro bono basis to a small NFP (Not For Profit) organisation based in Melbourne. They work in a field that I feel very strongly about and are starting to make some real progress since setting themselves up over a year ago.
Like many NFPs, budget is tight and they rely heavily on support from generous benefactors to pay the rent and keep the day-to-day running of the organisation ticking over, as well as support from dedicated volunteers. Low cost marketing communication activities, therefore are essential.
What they lack in budget they more than make up for in ideas. But as we all know, having a bucket load of ideas is great but you need the resources, time and people power to implement them.
Volunteers are the lifeline for many NFPs, without whom they simply could not achieve so much. Whilst people power is important, maximising a small budget and focusing the efforts of volunteers in the right direction will achieve the best results.
So whilst I get my head around how I can use my marketing communications experience and copywriting skills to make a positive contribution towards this passionate group, here are a number of low cost marketing communication activities that a NFP can use to generate awareness of what they do to a wider audience to drum up support, increase membership, raise funds and achieve long term goals.
Social Media: the power of this low-cost medium is huge with the capacity of Facebook and Twitter to spread messages and connect with followers and fans in all corners of the globe being felt almost instantaneously. An absolute must have for all NFPs.
Website: building a website can be costly but there are cheap options if you shop around. If a friend or family member is equally passionate about your cause, ask if they’re willing to donate their time or resources to get you set up: they’ll feel good about doing this and get some free publicity in return! Ideally every NFP should have an online presence to provide information to members and visitors on what they do, how people can help, where they can be contacted, etc.
Blogs: in-depth and informative blog posts are an ideal way to educate and inform people on campaigns or topics that are important to a NFP. Sharing blog posts on your website and social media will reach and inform a wider audience and ultimately help drive membership.
Fundraiser events: these are a great way to raise much needed funds that go towards future campaigns. They take time to organise so volunteers are ideally placed to be involved in planning and running them. They also rely on generosity from businesses or groups whose facilities may be needed to stage events.
Presentations and talks: these are ideal for educating an audience on a number of different levels. They are perfect for schools and special interest groups interested in finding out more about your cause and what they can do to help. A knowledgeable speaker is important so that the messages are presented clearly and authoritatively and questions and concerns can be addressed competently. They are a relatively low cost option because the venue may be provided free of charge (particularly if it’s being held at a school) and the host will no doubt do some free promotion for you to get bums on seats.
Demonstrations or protests: generating awareness on a particular cause has far greater impact when people gather on location and peacefully promote their message and voice their concerns in front of the general public. Promoting these types of events to the media is important so that they attend and record the event to broadcast to the national media. Use social media and your website to raise awareness of the event and encourage people to let you know if they can attend.
Direct mail: although more expensive than the above options, direct mail is a targeted way to communicate campaigns to a wide audience that will help increase membership levels and boost financial donations. If your NFP already has a large membership, use direct mail to give incentives to increase their level and frequency of donation by offering a free gift or reward of some type that is relevant to your cause.
Telemarketing: this works well with direct mail because a telephone follow-up confirms that the direct mail has been received and gives the caller the opportunity to talk more about issues surrounding your campaign and why their support is needed. The personal touch may just be enough to encourage a higher or regular donation!
Other marketing communication activities for NFPs to consider are more expensive and to implement them will require significant and successful fundraising efforts. Billboards, posters, TV and press advertising have a greater reach but come at a greater cost. If your NFP is fortunate enough to receive unexpected financial support from a generous benefactor, maybe that is the time to consider these options!