At first, the idea of marketing a nonprofit sounds like an oxymoron. Marketing in the business world is done to produce a profit. The reality is that nonprofits are a business that must produce enough revenue to pay needed employees and perform a service to society. This means although the goal is not to generate a surplus, people still need to be aware of why you are in business. Otherwise, your nonprofit will become non-existent.
Since the vast majority of nonprofits are smaller local organizations, there is little need for a high class marketing firm. It is just a matter of getting the word out to your community and region. With this in mind, several possibilities exist that will get the job accomplished. Remember, a nonprofit must be marketed in two directions. The first is that the available services must be known in the community. The second is that funds must be raised to produce income for the nonprofit.
Have promotional items produced.
The old tried and true marketing method of giving away items with the company name, address, and phone number imprinted on it remains a viable marketing tool. Pens are a great choice because almost everyone uses a pen. These can be left a various places to be picked up by people, or they can be intentionally distributed at events. Plastic cups are not a great tool because most of these end up in the trash before they can have a useful life. Some even view them as ecological problems. Key chains, pen lights, and other devices can make good choices.
Do not overlook direct mail.
The start up cost of a nonprofit mailing permit seems a bit high, but the payback is immediate. Being able to mail brochures and advertisements at a huge discount helps nonprofits reach their area in a cost-effective way. Entire zip codes or mail routes can be blanketed at one time when an event is on the horizon.
Make up colorful brochures.
An attractive eye-catching brochure that describes your service to the community is important to have available. These should be distributed at visitors centers, laundromats, businesses, and anywhere that people go. Depending on what you offer, even medical offices might be a place to leave information to be read.
Find ways to make presentations to the public or interested parties.
Presentations to the Chamber of Commerce or various community organizations is a good way to explain what you do, and the amount of funds required. Try to get access to every place that might have an interest in your organization. Use these times to both offer services and solicit monies.
Hold fund raisers that are interesting to the public.
The type of fund raisers vary from organization to organization. Golf tournaments have been used effectively for nonprofits. Trivia nights are still popular. Various walks or runs have done well. Dinners with a special guest have attracted great donors. Even singing or music does fairly well. The important thing is to have it well organized and get the word out early. Do not be afraid to solicit donations above the cost of the tickets. Make it easy for people to give.