In today's business climate, even non-profit organizations need to think outside the box to bring in revenue. One way to do this is using creative marketing techniques. Often low-cost, they can boost your organization's image and help build an array of supporters who contribute their efforts and funds on your behalf.
Make sure your organization has a website. It doesn't need to be complex---a few pages on who you are and what you do can be sufficient. Make sure it's updated regularly and contains easy-to-find instructions on how to donate. If volunteer recruiting is important, offer online sign-up to create a database of people who will work on your behalf. (reference 1). You can have a website custom designed for your organization if the budget allows, or you may consider off-the-shelf solutions that are less expensive but don't allow for as much customization.
Facebook and Twitter also offer exposure for your non-profit. In Facebook you can set up a page and then 'fans' can follow your efforts. With regular updating, you can build a following that supports your organization's mission. Twitter also allows non-profits to register. Consider Tweeting regular updates to keep your target audience apprised of special events, announcements and other issues of interest. Don't forget to add links to Facebook and Twitter on your website's homepage to increase your exposure. You may also wish to consider blogging if your organization is involved in issues that change regularly. Blogging is more time-consuming than Twitter or Facebook, but you can develop a regular following that provides support or responds to calls for action.
Develop an e-mail list of people who contact you. If your organization is still printing a traditional newsletter, switch to an e-newsletter. It is faster to compile and costs less to distribute because there are no printing or postage costs. Regularly inform your audience of your achievements as well as your goals. Include a link to your online donation page so that making a gift is easy.
While special events are not usually a significant revenue stream for non-profits, they can cultivate friends both new and old. They are also a good way to foster a sense of community among supporters and to market your organization. While viral marketing is important, there will always be a need for face-to-face interactions for non-profits. Special events are one way to maximize the impact. They can range from pure fundraising, like an art auction, or they can be geared to thank existing donors.
You may also wish to consider events that motivate donors to contribute to your goals. For example, if you run an animal shelter, organize a food donation event or throw a pet parade party. If your non-profit helps the homeless, start an event that donates gently used shoes and call it "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." The key to successful events is knowing the outcome you desire and then organizing it to achieve your goal. If you are unsure about starting an event, put together a group of key community stakeholders and brainstorm with them for effective ideas.
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