Visibility and public awareness are important concerns for any organization, whether they’re selling cars or funding cancer research. People can only donate, volunteer, and support your work if they know your organization exists. But although nonprofit marketing is an important component of fundraising and operational success, many nonprofit organizations struggle to gain exposure and visibility.
There are, however, some low-cost ways for nonprofits to reach wider audiences of potential donors. Learn how to partner with other organizations, tap into the power of local events, and ask media outlets for support to boost your organization’s visibility.
1. Partner to Reach a New Audience
Ultimately, you want to increase your nonprofit’s visibility to get more people interested and involved in your work. So you need to connect with other audiences who might not be aware of your cause and impact. A great way to do this is to partner with another organization to appeal to their community.
Forging a partnership gets your work in front of a new group of people, whether it’s a company’s staff, a sports team’s audience, or a restaurant’s patrons. For instance, you might ask a local café to donate a portion of a day’s proceeds to your organization. Emphasize that you will promote the event within your community and mobilize your supporters to show up and spend their money. When proposing a partnership, remember to highlight the value you can provide as well.
Many workplaces build morale with charity projects, and local businesses and teams love to associate themselves with respected social impact organizations. Mama’s Kitchen partnered with Sycuan Casino to bring a group of volunteers in. Partner support can come in the form of volunteer hours, as well as public visibility, in-kind donations, and cash.
When approaching potential partners, start the conversation with a clear idea of their audience and how to reach them. Also be aware of how the other organization’s mission and practices align with your cause and values.
Partnerships work best when there is a clear connection between the missions of both parties. For example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnered with Uber, a ride-sharing app that helps people get home safe.
2. Bring Your Work to Popular Events
Bringing your business to where people already congregate is vital for visibility. This is why your social impact organization needs to have a strong presence at local events.
Farmer’s markets, holiday celebrations, and other events that attract lots of people are prime opportunities to increase visibility. Instead of going out and trying to reach people all over your city, state, or country (who may not even be paying attention), you should bring your cause to where you know people will be.
Look at your city’s schedule of upcoming events, contact the organizers, and ask what role your organization can play. If you’re going to be one group among many, it’s a good idea to have an eye-catching display or activity to attract people. But, just like forging an organizational partnership, nonprofits should take care in choosing events to attend. Don’t spend valuable time at an event whose audience has no interest in your cause.
But the right event can create tons of exposure. Keep-A-Breast has maintained a fruitful ongoing presence at The Vans Warped Tour, a summer concert series that attracts thousands of young music-lovers.
Because Keep-A-Breast aims to eradicate breast cancer in future generations, The Warped Tour’s crowd of teens and young adults are the perfect match for their message. If there’s a specific age group or population you want to reach, look for events they already attend.
3. Mingle With the Media
One thing that holds many nonprofits back from reaching a wider audience is the assumption that without a large budget, you’re doomed.
But just because you can’t purchase a prime time commercial spot, doesn’t mean television is completely out of your reach.
Local news networks often cover charity campaigns and events, but you have to be proactive to get attention. The simplest way to get what you want is to ask for it. As with fundraising, you have to be willing to ask media outlets to shed a little light on your organization.
The San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society worked with a local news outlet to publicize their work on International Turtle Day.
The same goes with local newspapers. If you can’t interest a reporter in a story, you can ask about donated ad space.
Arranging publicity opportunities like these will become easier if you cultivate ongoing relationships with media outlets. Check in with your staff and board to see if they have any friends or family who can get your foot in the door.
If you want to be seen, you must be willing to step into the spotlight. In the absence of a big marketing budget, making connections and taking advantage of existing audiences allows nonprofits to reach more potential supporters.
Finding a good partner allows you to reach their community, and it gives them the benefit of branding themselves as charitable and involved in the community. Local events gather large numbers of people to one place, presenting a great opportunity to introduce them to your mission. Finally, asking local media outlets for coverage can be surprisingly effective.
If you proactively look at the opportunities around you, your nonprofit can reach new audiences and expand your base of support.