What are the Best Tips for Non-Profit Marketing?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A non-profit organization (NPO) is an organization the operation of which does not benefit or profit any private interests, unlike businesses run for profit. NPOs in at least several countries enjoy tax-exempt status. Non-profit marketing works best when it is done in the light of the non-profit’s mission and the fact that it is a non-profit. While non-profit marketing can benefit from some approaches that work for for-profits, some strategies are particular to the non-profit concept.

Non-profit marketers may build up a presence in a community by attending farmer's markets, county fairs, and other informal events.
Non-profit marketers may build up a presence in a community by attending farmer's markets, county fairs, and other informal events.

One of the most important ways in which non-profit marketing may want to go in a different direction from for-profit marketing is in making sure it does not give the appearance of being expensive. People expect non-profits to devote the bulk of their income to their focal cause, not to splashy advertising or other overhead. It is also important not to spend a great deal in fact, as well as not giving the appearance of doing so. Balancing this with achieving a professional look in marketing materials can be a challenge. Using email and online communication rather than printed brochures when possible can help skirt the issue.

As a non-profit, showing real people and situations that involve one’s work rather than generic-looking stock photos can help convey the reality of the situation and appeal to the community. Participating in community events is also a good non-profit marketing approach. Being present at farmers' markets, county fairs, teachers' conventions, and block parties, presents the non-profit as a component and active part of the community.

Non-profit marketing depends on making its point in a somewhat minimalist way, but there’s one area in which it pays to invest sufficient time and money to be perfect. Having marketing material that is flawless in grammar, mechanics, spelling and usage will prove a boon to the organization, and — unfortunately — errors can lead people to doubt competence in other areas besides English. Every scrap of printed material going out should be read by several people.

Engaging in non-profit marketing to raise money can be a challenge. One tip is to hold events that the community collaborates in. For example, one could hold an auction with community donations. The people who attend the auction will see every donor as a partner with the non-profit and see the non-profit not just as a separate organization raising money but as a community member.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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