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  About the Institute for Nonprofit Marketing

Marketing Without a Marketing Budget

Here are some ideas for improving your communication to the public without crushing your budget. If you have any ideas of your own to share, please type them in below!

Marketing Mix: Take several approaches to appeal to your market. Don't rely solely on one method. Mix it up. Use a mailing AND direct phone calls AND carefully placed brochures AND public service announcements...and so on.

Desktop publishing programs and even simple word-processors enable you to produce your own brochures with ease. Office supply stores sell tri-fold, blank brochures and other colorful papers to enable you to publish from your own printer or xerox machine. While professional printing companies may be cheaper for very large runs (thousands of brochures), you can print two-hundred brochures on your own for under twenty dollars. More often than not, you can find a volunteer willing to help out with desktop publishing.

Take advantage of public service announcement opportunities. Ask local nonprofits to share their media list and compile a list of contacts and telephone numbers for local press and media. Radio stations will often run short announcements which tell the public about your services or need for volunteers. PSAs (public service announcements) should be brief -- twenty-five to fifty words. Stations will usually run PSAs for a week or two at a time so be sure to fax them in regularly.

Local newspapers and other media are often looking for interesting, inspiring or important human interest stories. Keep a list of local press facsimile numbers and send out press releases whenever your organization is having a notable event or has a story that may be of interest to the public. Even if they do not print all of your press releases, you may be pleasantly surprised at how often you will see your organization's name in print.

Take advantage of the sophisticated and expensive marketing efforts of your time competition. If your clients are teenagers, follow businesses that sell teens their products. If they are sponsoring a musical event, try to get permission to set up a table or distribute brochures. If Nike advertises in a particular magazine, maybe you should too.

Other nonprofits helping your clients may be interested in sharing events or other outreach projects. If your organization educates teens about pregnancy prevention, perhaps another teen health group would be willing to share the expenses of a mailing, marathon, concert, essay contest, etc.

Internet Outreach is a great way to get the word out about your nonprofit. Having your own website is only the beginning. Surf the websites that your clients visit. Ask the webmaster to link to your website or even display your banner. Be sure to visit all of the search engines and register the existence of your website.

Get Help! Most public relations agencies are willing to do pro bono PR work for nonprofits. Try writing letters to firms recommended by your board, volunteers or simply the yellow pages. Send the agency your fact sheet, brochures and a brief request for "pro bono PR management."

If you have any ideas about marketing on budget you would like to share with other nonprofits, please submit them below!

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