Marketing Ideas for Non-Profits

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Non-profits, we salute you. You work long hours on causes that matter and make a difference in our world. We know how important marketing is to help get the word out and raise money. So we thought we’d share some interesting marketing ideas for non-profits that we’ve come across…ideas that might re-inspire your team and your supporters while raising funds for your organization.

1. Naming campaigns. These are fun and fairly straightforward to implement. One example is a “buy a brick” campaign, where people buy a brick (could be for a new building or even a brick path in a local park) and the person’s name will be included on the brick.

2. Restaurant proceeds. We’ve seen this work especially well with religious organizations. Team up with a local restaurant and declare the first Monday of the month your organization’s “Awesome Restaurant Day.” When people dine or get take out from Awesome Restaurant – and they mention they’re with your organization – a portion of each bill will go towards your organization. It’s great for the community, for the restaurant, for your supporters, and for your non-profit.

3. Competitions. Whether it’s a cake bake-off or a gingerbread house showdown, competitions are a great way to build buzz in a community and reach people who might not normally know much about your non-profit. One idea we’ve seen works like this:

  • Invite local high school students to submit designs for a cake.
  • Get local bakeries to donate their time and a cake.
  • Select five (or however many) design finalists and assign each finalist to a bakery, which then turns the design into reality.
  • Designate a “cake design competition” day, where people in the community are invited to stop by some central location – could be a community or youth center – where people vote on the cake they like the best. (And, of course, you’d have plenty of visuals and literature available about your non-profit, since your organization would be sponsoring the event.)
  • The winning designer and baker get a prize.

This can be an effective campaign because of its potential “reach.”  The finalists would promote the competition to their family and friends, the schools would promote the contest to faculty and the entire student body, the bakeries would promote the contest to their customers (and, ideally, through social media), and it’s the type of feel-good story that the local press might be interested in covering.

4. Bake sales. Okay, so it might be easy to dismiss this idea as “done to death,” but bake sales are still extremely effective because  1) they’re easy to set up 2) they’re easy to explain 3) they cater to “impulse buyers” and 4) they’re fun!

5. Sponsored walks (and other sporting events). While these can take more work and coordination to set up, they also have great community and media reach. Make it an annual event that you center your other marketing activities around.

For the last three ideas above, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have the right promotional products available to give away. Here are some that we recommend to customers:

  • Banner Custom Keychains. Keychains are economical and easy to display at busy events, like bake sales and competitions.

Custom Keychains

  • Stainless Fitness Bottles. These are perfect promotional products for all those who participate in your sponsored walks or sporting events.

Stainless Fitness Bottles

  • Custom Printed T-shirts. It’s important to make sure your staff wears clothing that easily identifies them as staff (and that promotes your non-profit at the same time).

Custom Printed T-Shirts

Promotional Frisbees

  • Custom Tote Bags. They look cool. They’re re-usable (and good for the environment). And they’re perfect for packing up all the baked goods people buy at your bake sales.Custom Tote Bags

Another cool thing you can do with promotional products, like T-shirts, is make the items for sale through your website. This approach is a great passive revenue stream.

Have seen any cool ways that a non-profit has marketed itself? Share in the comments.

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