Posted by Pamela Kilzer


As a nonprofit organization, you’re on a mission, but with a budget. You have dreams and goals to accomplish and further your cause, but it all comes with a price tag. Marketing can be difficult when your first priority goes towards helping those in need. Still, marketing your organization offers an invaluable tool in generating awareness and raising donations. So, what to do? That’s where guerrilla marketing comes in.

Like guerrilla warfare, guerrilla marketing offers low-cost tactics which include an element of surprise. Your organization meets potential constituents where they stand, while raising awareness and saving you money.

Guerrilla marketing has had a place in the profit world for years, and has started to gain more traction in the nonprofit sector as well. So how can your nonprofit organization (NPO) take advantage of this? Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

  1. Word of Mouth

    Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. When it comes down to it, potential constituents trust a friend or family member more than your organization. While you can’t control what community members say about you, you can help start the fire.

    Tell those in your circle about what your NPO does, your involvement in it and its impact on the community. Make some waves, let people in the loop. When constituents hear you talking about it, they’re going to be interested, and they’ll start telling people too. When you encourage word-of-mouth marketing, your cause grows completely free of charge.

  2. Personal Invitation

    Can you remember the last time you received a personalized letter in the mail? They’re rare, which means they’re a valuable guerrilla marketing tactic. Try writing letters to current and potential donors, telling them about your organization and its activities. Don’t let it be a cookie-cutter letter, though. If you can, include a little message in each letter specific to the donor, such as a name, history or bit of information.

    If you want, consider including a return envelope addressed to your NPO, in case any recipients feel compelled to donate right then. Don’t let the letter be an obvious plea for money, but make readers aware of any pressing issues your nonprofit faces. When donors feel informed and valued, they’ll be more likely to show support for your NPO.

  3. Door to Door

    One-on-one marketing has remarkable effects, which is why door-to-door will never go out of style. Set up a date and plan for volunteers to go into the neighborhood and ask for donations from the community. Keep the talks fun, lighthearted and mission-focused, but brief. You don’t want to overwhelm any potential donors with a prewritten speech or drawn-out explanation.

    Door-to-door guerrilla marketing has proven itself a powerful tool, such as programs like Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Of course, be prepared to get some doors slammed in your face or some less-than-polite responses, but stay positive! Keep going and you will help raise some money for your nonprofit organization.

  4. Testimonials

    A solid testimonial will drive respondents to your cause. Utilize people involved with your NPO—staff members, donors, volunteers or even current or previous clients. Ask them why they got started with the organization, what they love about it and what keeps them coming back. Unconventional testimonials which highlight the good of your cause will demonstrate to constituents everything your nonprofit stands for.

    With permission from the respondent, you can even post the testimonials on your NPO’s website or social media pages which we will get to… now.

  5. Social Media

    There’s no question social media exists everywhere nowadays, and with a strong guerrilla marketing focus, so can your nonprofit. Utilize platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post interactive content with followers and constituents.

    Not only is social media easy to use, but it’s free. Set up a content plan to educate followers on your cause, post a need for volunteers or funds and share vital information to show your NPO as the expert in the field. All the while, engage with followers and encourage “likes” and “shares” to raise awareness and market your organization. And don’t forget those lesser-known networks; Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ all have great benefits as well.

  6. Email Marketing

    Email marketing is simple to do and cost-effective. Collect email addresses from donors and volunteers. Once you have a database of contacts, put them on record as interested parties.

    Keep emails brief and impactful, with up-to-date information on all the action at your nonprofit organization. Include links to videos and interactive media for a user-friendly experience. Make sure the subject line of your emails compel the reader to open. And always end on a call to action which will grab your viewer’s attention and encourage them to get involved in the cause. For more info on email marketing, click on this post: Email Marketing Benefits, How-Tos and Best Practices.

  7. Video Production

    Video marketing doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. In fact, with the social media craze, many users feel more connected to organizations that don’t follow the cookie-cutter, unrealistic road of video production. Create your own video to post on social media, share on your website or send out via email.

    Film volunteers doing something fun, sing a parody of a hit song or write a silly script. Whatever your team can develop to build an effective video and generate awareness, put it out there. Check out this article on 8 Ways to Grow Your Mission with Videos and then watch a guerrilla marketing video example in action by Save the Children.

  8. Virtual Party

    Ever heard of a Twitter Party? Social media "parties" use the power of real-life networking events and take them online, all while saving some dollars for your NPO.

    A Twitter Party is an online event your NPO sponsors to meet constituents, launch a new program or announce any recent news. You pick the date and time, use a hashtag and invite people into the conversation. You can even invite donors and raise money online. Generate profit for your organization all while maximizing your marketing and having fun.

  9. Artistic Touch

    Nothing catches a person’s eye quite like a piece of thought-provoking artwork. If your NPO owns its building or knows the renter, think about hiring an aspiring artist to decorate the outside. Decorate your own building or get the community together and create a neighborhood mural for community involvement.

    Reverse graffiti or street advertising draws attention to your nonprofit’s location without cost, promote your cause and even encourage walk-ins. Have an event coming up? Put your guerrilla marketing skills to the test and chalk the neighborhood for free, fun and focused advertising.

  10. Creative Ads

    When all else fails, try guerrilla marketing for your nonprofit organization through creative advertisements. Guerrilla ads spring up in unsuspecting places and draw attention. They can be inexpensive to produce, but still draw a following.

    Come up with ideas for ads which can promote your cause in the community and generate awareness. Take a look at these examples by UNICEF and the World Wildlife Fund.

World Wildlife Fund

UNICEF

 Guerrilla marketing offers a cost-effective way for your nonprofit organization to increase its exposure and generate funds. Not only do you save money, but your marketing efforts show genuineness and speak to the hearts of potential donors. By making an effort to increase a proactive marketing strategy, your NPO will raise awareness for its mission and impact the world one campaign at a time.

Interested in learning more ways to market your nonprofit organization? Firespring is here to help! We offer useful webinars, materials and seminars on how your NPO can market itself to further its cause. Learn more by giving us a call at 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.org.


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