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Nonprofit Marketing; 15 Best Low Cost Marketing Ideas for 2013

By Thomas R. Reich PhD

Nonprofit Organizations can benefit greatly in 2013 from improved marketing plans.  Many charity directors don’t see the need for a cohesive marketing plan, they think marketing is expensive and for larger nonprofits.  Let’s look at low cost marketing ideas that can really boost your organization in 2013.

To make this work, remember that in the past, most every nonprofit organization bought yellow page adds.  The yellow pages are dead, but good marketing replaces its exposure, without some of the low cost marketing ideas discussed here, charities may be seriously underexposed.nonprofit low cost marketing ideas

1)     Your first low cost marketing idea is to create and maintain a good functioning organization website.  Your website is you’re on line office, your virtual spot for donations, the first impression many potential donors and volunteers have of your organization and yes, it is your new yellow page add.  Your website should also be an information resource for your cause and services.


nonprofit low cost marketing ideas2)     Develop a new brand identity; this low cost marketing idea may be easier than you think. How long has it been since you’ve updated your website or marketing materials? Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look and redesign your image, take advantage of the digital domain. Donors and volunteers respond to new ideas and information which has been optimized for the internet.


3)     Survey existing donors, a low cost marketing idea which is easier than you may think. How do your volunteers feel about your cause and services? Stay in touch through informal lunches or a professionally coordinated survey campaign. A survey is an excellent method for taking the pulse of your audience. The survey should include detailed questions about your cause and services and how they directly benefit the community.


4)     Make a list of your strengths; this can be another low cost marketing idea generator. Are you the cause leader in your area? Is your organization the most experienced? nonprofit low cost marketing ideasDo you have the highest quality service? Try to list between 50 and 100 different and measurable strengths. This is a great exercise to develop new ideas for your marketing campaigns



5)     Now time for an easy, low cost marketing idea, one you need to do now!  The donor is always right… always. The time to prove this statement is when the donor experiences a problem with your cause or service. Make a point to take responsibility and solve any problems that a donor or volunteer might have immediately. Satisfied associats turn into repeat, long-term donors and supporters.


nonprofit low cost marketing ideas6)     This next tip is a low cost marketing idea if it helps you with the previous two ideas.  Take a large donor out to lunch. Now is the time to ask a reliable donor out to lunch. Touch base with them to see how your organization is solving problems and meeting their needs and expectations.


7)     Well here is the cost, though still a low cost marketing idea if you follow these guidelines.  Establish an annual marketing budget. A good rule-of-thumb estimate for your marketing budget is 3% to 5% of annual revenues. Organizations that sell products or services need to budget 7% to 10% of annual sales for their marketing budgets. Your budget should include a breakdown of all marketing costs including printing, social media, website maintenance and advertising and sponsorship placement.


8)     Here is a very low cost marketing idea, but arguably the most important you can consider.  Be positive in your outlook. It’s important to feel good about nonprofit low cost marketing ideasyourself and enjoy what you do for a living. If you have a positive attitude about your job, you will succeed by transferring that enthusiasm to other employees, donors and prospective volunteers.


9)     *****A low cost marketing idea should always look at social media.  Pinterestis one of the newest and most effective parts of a social media exposure for your program.  You can find out more in these articles:

How to Make Pinterest Work for You


nonprofit low cost marketing ideas10) *****Low cost marketing idea #10 is to establish and maintain a good active Twitter account.  To learn more about Twitter and how to make it effective for your orginazation, check out these suggestions:

45 Secrets of Driving More Donations through Social Media


11) *****Moving along with low cost marketing idea #11 have you fully updated your LinkedIn account on a regular basis?  You must be at 100% on your profile, as a Director of a nonprofit organization you need to update every week, you need an organization page.  Want to know more, take a look at:

LinkedIn for Nonprofits; the Lists for Action Now!


12) *****Don’t forget another social media low cost marketing idea, have an active and constantly updated Facebook account and organization page.  Learn more here:

Want More Visitors? Use Social Media to Drive Visitors Home!


13) *****We talked about your Website but another low cost marketing idea is to have a very active blog attached to your website. Learn more here:

The fundamentals of social media engagement; common sense, not tips and tricks.

nonprofit low cost marketing ideas


14) *****The best low cost marketing idea I can give you is this.  Learn how to connect your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTubeand any other social media fads that appear in 2013 into a network.  Learn how to use back links and directories.  The more you work on your on-line presents, the more your organization will benefit!

3 Must Do’s in Your Social Media Network; Making Your Organization Relevant in Social Media


15) Here is your top low cost marketing idea for 2013; in fact it is the most important idea you will hear in regards to marketing.  In order for anything we have talked about to truly succeed, you need to develop a solid marketing plan!  You need a road map, a plan to keep you on track to sustainable goals, and a ruler to judge your success.  Part of this plan should include your established budget and an ongoing record of each facet of your marketing plans success to determine what worked and what to rethink.  All low cost marketing ideas are successful if you learn and grow from them.


nonprofit low cost marketing ideasBonus Low Cost Marketing Idea: Consider hiring a marketing company to help you with a complete formula, if marketing is not your thing.  A firm that does marketing for lots of companies can often deliver a great marketing campaign at a very low cost compared to struggling with a part of running a nonprofit organization that can confuse many.  Be careful, there are a lot of firms that clam to know what they are doing, hire a firm that trains you to maintain your marketing plan.

With low cost marketing idea generating help, a good digital identity, a well branded nonprofit organization and attention paid to your donors and beneficiaries’ needs, success will be yours in 2013!

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