6 Low Cost Digital Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits

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6 Low Cost Digital Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits

The passion for your organization’s cause is overflowing. The marketing budget? Not so much.

When large scale campaigns are not feasible with current budgets, it’s time to get creative with your marketing strategy. There are many marketing ideas for nonprofits out there but let’s focus on the ones that can actually have a tangible impact.

Whether your goal is to attract more donors, get volunteers to join the cause, build awareness, or gain signatures for a petition, you need to harness the power of digital marketing.

Read on to learn how to promote a nonprofit organization in a budget-friendly manner.

1. Spread the word with social media

Are you making the most of your organization’s social media profiles?

You might think that gaining more followers is the ultimate goal, but having engaged followers is more beneficial to spreading your message.

Engaged followers like photos, share your posts with others and are more likely to donate to your brand. In fact, research shows that 55% of people who engage with nonprofit organizations on social media end up taking some sort of action.

Communicating a meaningful message via social networks is a great way to build awareness. Here are three important practices to implement for social media growth.

Keep it visually appealing. Your feed should be aesthetically pleasing, especially on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. To ensure it’s not a jumble of mismatched images, consider sticking to a color palette that matches your brand colors. Another way to organize your feed is to integrate high-quality photos with visually appealing text posts. Take a look at the @nohungernola feed to see a simple, attractive feed in action.


Have a unique angle. With so many accounts filling up feeds, why should someone follow your account? You need a differentiation point that signals your uniqueness to potential followers.

Try doing something that goes against social media norms. Share some interesting behind the scenes looks on your stories. If it works with your brand, use humor to push your message. You can even bring in an expert to boost your authority.

The MJF Foundation for Parkinson’s Research held a virtual congressional briefing and shared it with Facebook followers to show the real strides the organization is making. This is great content, especially considering 18% of donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools.

michael j fox foundation

Share videos regularly. Social media posts that contain videos get 48% more views than static posts. But remember that viewer attention spans are short. Shorter videos with highlights and core messaging are great additions to your social media feed. If you don’t have high-quality video content, create some! There are easy to use applications like Biteable that allow you to put together customizable videos with your messaging.

Get discovered with hashtags. The main purpose of hashtags is to increase the discoverability of your content. Every social media platform has a search bar where users can look for specific hashtags. For instance, a college student looking for posts about animal adoption shelters can search #petadoption. This @dakinhumanesociety post includes that hashtag and has a lot of engagement, so it shows up as the top result.

dakin humane society

The great thing about hashtags is that they are a free and effective way to grow your reach and increase engagement. If you’re not using hashtags in every post, start today! To determine which ones to use, use the related hashtags feature on Instagram.

pet adoption

The related hashtags underneath the ‘follow’ button are great hints about what other hashtags people are searching for around the same topic.

Take the guesswork out of selecting the right hashtags. Use our how to do hashtag research guide.

2. Get covered by local newspapers and news stations

Second on the list of low-cost marketing ideas for nonprofits is to get published. You can gin up support from locals in the community by getting your message covered by local journalists and news stations.

Here’s how to market a nonprofit to a news outlet:

Use your network (or build one)

Loads of pitches and ideas end up on a reporter’s desk. Get a leg up by putting a face to your name so reporters are more likely to stop and consider featuring your organization. Whether you live in a small town or a bustling city, use your connections to meet reporters and journalists. Ask around your nonprofit to see if anyone has a friend or colleague who can introduce you to a reporter. You can also go straight to the source by setting up a brief meeting at the news station or newspaper.

Send your story to the right people

Reporters and journalists are always looking for new stories to feature. Rather than sending a press release about your nonprofit to editors at local stations, try to connect with more specialized reporters through digital PR. For example, the calendar editor of the newspaper would be interested in events going on in the community. If there is a volunteer section of your newspaper, find out who is in charge of that section and send relevant information to them.

Have a noteworthy story to share

A bland story, no matter how meaningful it might be to your organization, won’t make it into a news publication. Try to look at the story you’re pitching from an outsider’s perspective. Would someone who is not involved in your organization find this interesting? Stories about overcoming hardship are popular. Unexpected happy endings, profiles on inspiring individuals, and other humanitarian angled pieces are likely to be a hit.

Take your story digital. Our digital PR services strengthen your nonprofit organization’s message and your website’s performance on search engines simultaneously.

3. Get serious about SEO

Selflessness and a focus on others is at the heart of many nonprofit organizations. But there is one area where you do need to be a little self-centered. And that’s in the search engines.

Allow us to explain.

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is a process nonprofits can use to increase the visibility of their website in search engines. How will anyone find your website if you don’t show up on Google? Spending time on SEO can help you show up on the first page of results.

SEO can come in many forms from improving load times on your website to starting a blog to fixing broken links. Really, it refers to anything that optimizes your website, making it more user friendly and readable for search engines. You don’t have to be an all-knowing SEO guru to start improving your visibility. Here are four things you can start today:

  • Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Over half of all Google’s organic search traffic in the US comes from people on mobile devices. You can test your website to see how it performs on mobile devices using this Mobile-Friendly Test from Google. We tested a page on Markitors.com to see what the results looked like.

mobile friendly test

  • Install an SEO plugin like Yoast on your website. Installing the free version of Yoast is a great way to improve your technical SEO especially for beginners. It walks you through step by step instructions to ensure that your backend website structure meets search engine expectations.
  • Get a free SEO audit. It’s valuable to have a clear understanding of where your website currently stands in terms of SEO. An audit can uncover areas in need of improvement and help you craft specific plans of action.
  • Update content on your website to make sure it is relevant. Old and outdated information can drag you down in the search rankings. Do a spring cleaning of your website to go through and delete old or outdated information. Then replace it with new content.

Don’t know where to start with SEO? Work your way through this DIY SEO Checklist to launch your website in the right direction.

4. Reach locals using Google My Business

We can’t talk about how to promote a nonprofit organization without mentioning a free and easy tool called Google My Business (GMB).

With GMB, you can improve your local SEO. Local SEO is a specific area of SEO that focuses on expanding your reach in local searches.

When someone searches “ foodbank near me” or “pet shelter in Tampa” they are conducting a local search. Nonprofits in the area that put effort into their local SEO are more likely to show up in these searches.

By setting up a Google My Business profile, you’re taking the first step towards increased exposure on both Google Maps and the search results page.  Let’s take a look at a local search to see GMB in action.

When we search “charity for children in need Mesa” the top result is a map featuring three related organizations in the area.

charity children mesa

What makes these organizations rise to the top? One factor is that each one has an optimized Google My Business page. Clearly, these organizations understand how to market a nonprofit through GMB. Some of these organizations are also listed in nonprofit directories.

For a closer look at Helen’s Hope Chest, let’s view the organization’s Google My Business profile. It is filled with relevant information including hours of operation, location, phone number, and more. There are also pictures and over 100 reviews.

helens hope chest

When it comes to simple marketing ideas for nonprofits, Google My Business is a great option. Filling out a GMB profile is an ideal way to increase your organization’s visibility among locals.

According to Google, “businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.” So make sure you input as much information as possible.

Want more local SEO knowledge? Learn local SEO tips from 10 small business owners.

5. Increase exposure with nonprofit directories

Your nonprofit can accomplish a lot with many team members working towards a common goal. In the same way, multiple marketing efforts work in unison to bring you enhanced results. Enter nonprofit directories.

People used to flip through Yellow Pages to find local businesses and organizations. Now, they do it digitally through online directories. A listing in an online directory includes at minimum your organization name, address, and phone number.

Every listing your nonprofit gains in an online directory is another mention of your brand.

The more places your nonprofit is mentioned across the internet, the better. That’s because search engines learn about your organization by scanning other websites as well as your own. Getting listed in nonprofit directories also increases local SEO performance.

The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has a nonprofit directory open to organizations in Pierce County.

community directory

Each local nonprofit listed in this directory benefits from the brand mention, exposure to locals, and enhanced local SEO.

6. Create content to attract donors and volunteers

Content marketing allows you to inform, connect with, and inspire your audience. That is if it is carefully planned and directed at a target audience.

Who are you trying to reach with your message? Are you looking for more donors? If so, write blog articles targeting your ideal donor. Think about what types of questions they would ask and what they would want to know about your organization.

Texas Adoption Center is a nonprofit organization that connects birth mothers with parents looking to adopt. Texas Adoption Center wants to attract pregnant women considering adoption to its website. So the organization’s blog targets topics that are relevant to potential birth mothers.

adoption process

Neverthirst is dedicated to providing clean water in underdeveloped countries. They write about the impact their organization is making. They also have articles that answer questions like “how is my donation used?”.

stories donation

Each blog post your write should focus on a specific keyword. You can perform keyword research to learn what topics you should target on your blog. It’s important to form a cohesive content strategy rather than just crafting posts with no clear goals in mind.

Leverage the power of content marketing for your organization. Here’s how to create an SEO content marketing strategy.

Do more good with great marketing ideas for nonprofits

Learning how to market a nonprofit organization takes time and some trial and error. If your team is stretched thin or lacks the know-how to execute digital marketing plans, bringing on a nonprofit SEO agency can make a world of difference. With digital marketing experts on your side, you can pour your time and energy into making an impact in the community while your nonprofit gains more attention.

At Markitors, we help organizations rank higher on Google to get more traffic to their websites and meet specific goals. We tailor a unique strategy to fit what matters most to you. If you have questions about these nonprofit marketing ideas or would like to know more about how Markitors can benefit your organization, contact us today.

6 Low Cost Digital Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits

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