Five cost-effective marketing tips for non-profits (or anyone on a budget!)


Marketing is an important part of any business or organizational strategy. Sometimes, it can be overlooked if the economy is rough or budgets are tight. Not to worry – this is just an opportunity to get creative with your marketing strategy! While you may not have a large budget, there are a lot of cost-effective ways to up your marketing game. Here are some tips to make the most of your marketing plan with the least amount of money:

    1. Utilize your marketing committee – Almost all of the non-profit boards I’ve served on have marketing committees and if not, there most likely is a marketing guru on the board. Ask for help! Whether you need assistance to supplement your own marketing department, have someone out on temporary leave, or need some extra hands on a special project, don’t be afraid to ask your board members or volunteers for help. It’s also a great way to get a fresh perspective from outside of your organization.
    2. Use social media – While there are always apps and ads to pay for, using social media is 99% free! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube – any of the free social media platforms can be a great addition to your marketing and communications plans. It doesn’t cost anything to post updates, upload videos, share links or photos, and you should certainly be using this to your advantage! If you don’t have the staff-power to fully manage social media, refer back to tip #1!
    3. Take advantage of free software – There are so many different tools available for you to use for social media, graphics, analytics, etc. You just have to search and find the reputable sources. One that I love is Canva. I use this for my social media and blog graphics. There are tons of free backgrounds, images, icons and fonts – and so much you can do with them. It’s fun and easy to get creative with design software like this. You can even upload your own photos and logos. Using your computer’s built-in software is also super helpful. If you are creating flyers or invitations, you can use Microsoft Publisher/Word or Pages if you have a Mac. A few other favorites of mine are Constant Contact or MailChimp for creating fun email campaigns.

  1. Build relationships with your media contacts – We all have media contacts whether it’s the local newspaper, radio personality or even networking groups and chambers of commerce. Build a mutual relationship with these contacts and show them the value you provide to that relationship. Maybe they need input or have questions you can answer to help fill in the gaps for a story. When the time comes for you to spread the news of an event or accomplishment, you’ll have a great press team you can count on!
  2. Meet with friends and colleagues in the marketing world – English poet John Donne said, “no man is an island,” and that is absolutely true. Lean on your friends and colleagues for advice. Whether you meet over coffee or in your board room, having regular “brain picking” sessions can be so helpful in the grand scheme of your marketing world. I meet regularly with marketing and PR folks in my circle and always walk away with new ideas and a different way of tackling challenges.

This is a great start to boosting your marketing plan. And when in doubt, don’t forget Google! You can find so many great tools to use at no cost to you.