Promoting a non-profit can prove to be a special challenge: while for-profit organizations often have many resources they can invest into marketing and promotions, non-profits often have multiple places where every dollar could go. That makes it crucial to minimize costs when promoting your non-profit organization, or you may not be up and operating for long.
Word-of-mouth is one of the least expensive methods of promoting an organization; in fact, it costs nothing. If you are doing something amazing, you can simply ask everyone you know to pass the word along. Ask the people involved in your organization, as well as those who benefit from your mission. Similarly, networking can prove very beneficial. There are many free and low-cost events in every city that you can attend. Once there, inform the people you meet about the non-profit you’re working on, along with any particular pushes you’re currently focused on.
The downside to both word-of-mouth and networking promotions is that you have to do a lot of talking to people yourself, which doesn’t scale very well. Reaching larger audiences is crucial, even if you have to invest more resources in the process. Unless you already have an audience of your own, the best way to promote your non-profit is to leverage the audiences of journalists, bloggers and other members of the media.
Reaching those individuals with an audience requires following proper channels, including identifying the best matches (members of the media most likely to actually write about your non-profit) and informing them about your efforts in such a way that they can easily follow up (like through a press release). If you’re not already very familiar with public relations and the options you have there, it can seem intimidating. However, options like relying on a publicist or a public relations specialist can make the process much smoother.
Hiring a PR firm to help you with promoting your non-profit can seem like an expense that you should avoid. But the right publicity isn’t an expense; rather, it’s an investment. Marketing and promotions should be a built-in part of your operating budget. Unfortunately, you can’t just build a non-profit and hope that both donors and the individuals you hope to help will show up. You need to make sure that both groups know about you. If you need to reach an audience who can help you towards your goals, including raising the funds to continue operating, promoting your non-profit is an absolute necessity.