By: Melissa Lagowski
Big Buzz Idea Group
I recently heard a horror story about a nonprofit that was promised a packed room for their annual fundraiser. The development team guaranteed that the tables would be full and the event would be a huge success. I don’t know all the intricacies, but in the end, their promotions clearly failed as there were not even three full tables and it was a huge flop.
This is everyone’s worst nightmare. We are constantly tasked with growing our audiences and engaging new supporters but often don’t know where to begin. This list of promotional ideas is meant to help you expand on your existing promotions for annual appeals, events, programs, or services.
Prior to any promotions, be sure to set project goals and make clear what you are trying to accomplish. This will help you analyze which promotional methods may be best. If you spend a lot of time creating Tik Tok videos but your organization has no presence there, you will likely not have the success you are seeking.
Always work to grow your contact list
Are you capturing signups regularly? It is important to have a process for capturing the contact information for those who express interest in your event or organization because they may be future donors, attendees, or leaders for you. Nonprofits should always be thinking about how to capture contact information to stay connected and foster relationships with new contacts.
Put featured information in your email signature
How many emails do you send out daily? Utilizing the real estate in your email signature is another great way to include a call to action to invite others to support your annual appeals or join an upcoming event. This is a simple and effective method to spread the news, so encourage all staff and board members to consider this simple idea for your largest annual initiatives.
Invite partners to promote your organization
Customize a version of your logo that allows board members, donors and sponsors to showcase (in their email signature or on their website) that they are a supporter of your nonprofit. If you are a membership-based organization, provide the logo for all members, as well.
Create a blog series
A series of articles known as a drip campaign can work well for events (Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss Our XYZ Event) or an annual appeal (5 Ways Your $50 Makes a Difference). You can alter the messaging a bit to appeal to your audience in a variety of ways: tell the stories of those you have served, share stats about the impact of your association, and/or add humor and show the fun side of your nonprofit for event promotion.
Make the invitation appealing
In the old days, it was necessary to create expensive printed invitations to wow your supporters, but this is no longer the case. Online programs and software tools now allow you to create invitations that can come alive in someone’s inbox. A simple gif or animation can really grab someone’s attention amidst the mundane scrolling that they might otherwise be doing.
Create a special invitation to past attendees
Don’t overlook inviting past attendees, even if previous members or donors have not supported your organization for a couple of years. Sometimes a special invitation can re-engage past participants.
Nonprofits have a unique angle to connect with others in their communities. By crafting a basic media alert that includes the who, what, where, when and why of your project, you can then share that information with others and invite them to share the information through their channels. It is also a best practice to have a simple jpg design to support your text to again make the promotion more attractive to grab people’s attention.
Share your basic promotional information with any local media sources. They will often run nonprofit articles or share on-air announcements for local charities. And don’t forget to stay in touch with online media sources, too.
This is another media opportunity. To support the communities they serve, media outlets generally host a community calendar where they will include charitable events in addition to their own upcoming activities. Keep a list of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and online event sources in your area. In Chicago, we have been able to share our client events with as many as 150 promotional sources.
Many churches will share the work of local nonprofits in their area. Reach out to see if you can create a list of additional organizations who will promote your upcoming event.
If your organization is child-related or of interest to families, the local schools can also be a great way to expand your reach. Most schools have a weekly bulletin, and they will often share information on behalf of a select group of local organizations.
Many businesses and local politicians have regular newsletters that they use to maintain contact with their audiences. Share your media alert and ask if they will include your program in their next edition. It looks good for the local businesses to be supporting community organizations and this is a simple way to get your nonprofit in front of some new people.
Invite influencers who might enhance the interest of your event
Consider inviting or partnering with influencers to participate in your event to garner additional attention. Frequently, local media personalities will emcee a charitable fundraiser. If you know of local or online bloggers and influencers that serve your audience, you may benefit from creating relationships with these key contacts.
Next month, we will continue the discussion on promotional ideas for your nonprofit as we have 27 ideas in all! Until then, we encourage you to prioritize the promotional ideas that work best for your association; with limited time and money, it is important to use your resources wisely to reach the goals you establish on the front end.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss these ideas in more detail, please feel free to schedule a time to connect with us.