50 marketing tactics and ideas for charities and not-for-profits

Slightly out of date and also slightly underwhelming in places, but still full of useful and relevant information on marketing that could be applied by UK charities and not-for-profits (NPOs), USA website IdeasOptimised.com has produced a list of 50 marketing tactics for NPOs under the headings of:

o Branding.
o Website.
o Social media.
o Advertising.
o Content.
o Events. and
o Partnerships.


1. Your name should speak out loud and clear. 
2. Have your unique branded tag-line. You need to be recognized easily and in a way that sticks into the minds of your website visitors or supporters. It may be trivial, but an excellent one-liner can make the whole difference.
3. The design of your brand logo is as important. You want to be recognized and your logo is usually the first thing that people see. In marketing, it usually take 7-8 touch points before your visitors open up their wallet – in the NPO world – for donations. Having a great logo that speaks out loud of your purpose can help shorten the distance. The best is to work on at least 3 versions of the logo and we strongly suggest test it out in real world conditions. The simplest way to go about it is ask people in the social network what they think.
4. Let the world know what you do best. This way they know for sure supporting you makes sense. If you are just starting out – test your message/offer in a trial campaign and then let the world know what you achieved.
5. Be as humane as possible. You don’t want to be an organisation. You want to be a team – a collaboration – for the greater good. Let your team members engage with your audience – on social media, or elsewhere. Start by introducing the team and talking about your strengths, passion and background in a concise way.
6. Expand engagement with your story. Let the world know where you are coming from. Why you are tackling this specific problem. Tell them what your solution is and prove it works.
7. Keep the story going and flowing! Good storytelling can offset any other marketing tactic. Some of the best marketers out there that are for hire focus exactly on this – excellent storytelling. You have all the freedom of expression – text, video, visuals – your imagination is the only limit.


8. Get a domain name that can do the job on its own. This is tricky as options can be numerous plus you need to decide whether to use a search friendly domain name or a brand name. You brand name should be easy to memorize and type and if you get people to remember you then they will always search your name or type your domain name directly in the browser. 
9. Keyword and competitor research. Keyword research is great to discover how many people are actually searching for what you offer as a not-for-profit. Competitor research will give you a better idea how to position yourself and maybe even consider more niche activities. 
10. Professional, cause-centric website with clear calls to action. Observe not-for-profits offering similar services. See what they do best, copy and improve with your personal brand and touch.
11. Optimise for conversions. Optimise the page visitors land on (i.e. the “landing page”) when they visit your website. Your main goal here is to leave as few “clickable” distractions and emphasize to THE MOST IMPORTANT THING that needs to happen when someone visits your website.
12. Design is very important. Work with great designers or become a designer by reading, learning, testing and reiterating. An excellent design does not have to be flashy, it has to make visitor/donor’s life easy, happy, assured that you are doing good and you deserve his or her money. Ideally, the design should convey feelings. 
13. Copywriting. Think of copywriting from a designer’s perspective. Copywriting is writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a donation or sign up for an activity.
14. Site speed & best practice. To get discovered more easily, make your site fast. You should look for tools or professional help to try and hit the golden middle between speed and needed functionality. There are many tools that measure site speed and give you recommendations on what to do.

Social media

15. Focus on the social media channels where your target audience is active. If your not-for-profit is, for example, active with professionals volunteering for a cause, then you should focus on a professional network. If your audience is more general – then focus on the network with the most people.
16. Look for questions or engage these people! People may not comment or like, but they do read through the comments. This is a unique opportunity to convince your followers on the actual results you are doing or show your brand personality by being nice and helpful.
17. Welcome any critique and act upon it! This is a unique opportunity to turn any negative comment or person into a true loyal advocate of your cause. Actually, even if you can’t convert them others will read and appreciate that you are engaged and transparent.
18. Share your progress regularly. Content is asset. The best content is motivational and result-based. Send out your progress updates in every channel that utilises and engages your audience with questions or feedback requests (although be mindful not to overdo this and ask too frequently).
19. Use visuals – VIDEO Works best! This may sound old, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Then video is worth so much more. The best content is video – period. It’s so much easier to consume content and learn from videos. Get every opportunity you to create these and engage your people. If you don’t use a professional video creation services – it will take time to improve your skills & style. There are a ton of free and paid tools to help on your journey – keep experimenting.
20. What makes your audience feel good? On your online marketing journey you will discover that there are particular topics and content that excites your viewers and makes them feel good. Research, experiment & discover what it is and talk to people about it!
21. Learn to engage your audience. Learn from your favourite brands and apply what they are doing. See what sparks conversations, what prompts likes and shares. Replicate and test with your own branding and cause. Getting direct feedback and advice from your followers is important – the same principle applies for any entrepreneurial endeavour – discover the problem and find out the best ways to solve it.
22. Giving emotions! Your not-for-profit has a cause – you are passionate about it – your followers know that and follow you for it.  Doing your work successfully is just part of the deal – present what you’re doing and test what works best for creating positive emotions. 
23. Look for brand new social networks and media channels. There are plenty of social networks, including social concepts around niche topics. Some focus on audio, some focus on video, some are publishing networks. 


24. Never use the express start options! These are given to you to launch your ads quickly and easily, but it is bad for your wallet. Advertising is like science – you have to test and try multiple times and recipes. You need to test ad copy, visuals and campaigns. 
25. A/B testing is very important. Testing can be overwhelming, but is the only way to improve results. Depending on which network you advertise you will have options to test different versions of your ads.
26. Optimize ad text. Marketers know that a single word change can make the whole difference between a profitable and a non-profitable campaign. As usual – test, repeat, perfect.
27. Optimize text banners and  images.  test and discover which images work best for your brand and audience. Marketers know this: babies always win and cute animals do a great job!
28. Buy advertising space on websites your audience is likely to visit. Consider buying and testing native ads and ads on websites that attract your potential target audience. Display ads can also be a cheaper exposure than search ads. Test, repeat, perfect.
29. Sell products like t-shirts with your brand visible. You can even give these items free at events or as a “thank you” gift when you receive donations for your cause. To boost your not-for-profit’s revenue you can sell these items directly from your website or online marketplaces. It’s a great free advertising once you have these people wearing your branded products. It’s also an exposure outside of the virtual space.
30. Find the best audience. Depending on the venue you advertise, you have different options to nail down who are your best NPO supporters. Test how different audiences bring in results (for example, participants, volunteers or donations) and expand your reach or positioning.
31. Learn continuously. Take free online courses, take paid online courses, attend seminars, webinars, read and watch instructional videos. Experts continuously discover new techniques, test new ideas and reveal best practices. 


32. Repurposing of content. Sometimes it’s not easy to come up with good quality content. If you get stuck, see what worked for you best in the past – get that content and make it into smaller pieces, expand it if it was a large piece, create graphics around a text article or vice versa. 
33. Video content. Social networks, when given a choice between a picture and a video, will usually prefer to show videos. It has more weight in the algorithms and is the preferred media when deciding who gets served what.
34. Don’t go for stock photos. Use your unique pictures. What works best is presenting results in pictures. Have your co-workers in pictures, share pictures of the happiness your not-for-profit creates. Share and send pictures that brighten people’s day and make them smile.
35. Infographics are even better than pictures, because they draw s more strategic picture for your readers or supporters. It is also more educational and clear as to how exactly you are achieving your goals. There free tools and graphics online that you can use as templates or of course you can work with a graphic designer who can visualize your concept in a nice and catchy way.


36. Branded campaigns.  Link into national and international campaigns such as #GivingTuesday, which can prove to be good promotional and fundraising opportunities.
37. Offline events. Once you know who your supporters (donors and volunteers) are – and more precisely where they are located – you can start planning offline events. These can be such things as neighbourhood street cleaning or tree-planting initiatives that can be a great way of getting exposure and enabling your cause to reach more people.
38. Online events. Online events can take many forms – online video interviews, video series, written interviews, webinars and podcasts. Be creative and create an initiative that will reach people online. Be resourceful and combine any event with exposure in your other channels and partner networks.
39. Create online webinars. This will help you engage people by showing progress, show how you use donations and being transparent. This is also a great way to create content that can later be re-purposed.
40. Match your NPO cause with any upcoming national and international holidays. It can always be smart and pay off to schedule a fundraiser event or a campaign in the spirit of holidays and good mood. You can do schedule it well in advance with the right partnerships and even better – make it a yearly campaign for your fundraisers or volunteering needs.
41. Enable your supporters to organise fundraiser events. You can find online tools and service providers that will equip you with the digital tools to organise and promote a fundraising event for your cause. 


42. Who are people in your vicinity that serve the same purpose? Staying focused within your niche target audience is important. As you should already have some network of connections, ask your followers who they can refer. Getting people referred is the best way to converting them to donors or volunteers for your cause.
43. Do you know celebrities that support your cause? Celebrities and influencers have the ability to attract peoples attention and persuade them to engage with a cause or campaign.
44. Reach out to influencers. This is similar to working with a celebrity to promote your NPO, but the reach of influencers tends to be smaller and more niche. Partnering with such people is more time consuming, but their influence can be as a great as that of a celebrity if you want to reach a particular audience.
45. Reach out to businesses. Help businesses become more socially responsible. It’s a win-win strategy to get volunteers, donations, new brand ambassadors, while a business can also benefit by supporting a good, local cause.
46. Blogging. Blog content can be a way of providing added value to your audience, educate them on what your business is about, and ultimately build trust with them before you can expect them to invest time or make a donation.
47. Vloggers. Similar to bloggers, but who produce video content. You can discover vloggers in video platforms, social networks that display video media or just do a search.
48. Exchange best practices with other organisations like yours from other areas or countries. Consider partnering with and learning from other organisations who have access to audiences in different geographic regions.
49. Discover potential partner NPOs that complements your services or products. For example,  if you you want to do offline promotion by printing a branded garment like a t-shirt, look at partnering with a not-for-profit (or a business) that can provide environmentally-friendly garments only. This makes it a win-win.
50. Find businesses or other NPOs that will cross-promote your not-for-profit brand. Be strategic. Look for new ideas and for businesses that show interest in demonstrating their social responsibility. Negotiate and find a way to partner and cross-promote each other. This can also be a win-win situation for all parties involved.