Are you planning an event for your nonprofit? A creative but flexible marketing plan and knowing all the resources available in your community will help your nonprofit event succeed. Never put all your marketing eggs in one basket, or rely on last year’s success: your marketing strategy needs a diverse approach that takes advantage of free – or nearly free – tools that help bring attention to your cause while creating an event that your supporters want to attend.
Successful nonprofit event marketing pros are geniuses at getting major results on a minor budget. They know how to harness the power of social media before, after and during an event to increase their event’s online visibility to get more attendees and sponsors and to increase public awareness about their cause.
Many nonprofit event marketing strategies are similar to those used by for-profit events – content plans, social media schedules, influencers, email marketing, etc – but nonprofit organizations are working on a smaller budget and need cost-effective (or free!) strategies to know how to find their community online and engage with them to create buzz and action to support their cause.
7 Essential Must-Dos For NonProfit Event Marketers
1. Apply For a Google Grant
Google for Nonprofits offers free or discounted programs and grants to nonprofit organizations that meet their criteria and offers tips and case studies for nonprofits to meet their goals using Google products.
Google programs support nonprofit activities including:
Google Ad Grants: access to $10,000 FREE in-kind advertising per month in Google AdWords along with many other benefits.
Google Earth and Maps: Help people locate community programs and resources closest to them and develop compelling data visualizations to track and share your organization’s impact.
YouTube Nonprofit Program: Access exclusive resources, features and programs designed to maximize your organization’s impact on YouTube.
Free google ads? Yes, please!
2. Use Facebook Events
Create a Facebook Event to promote your nonprofit’s event. You can keep track of who has RSVP’d or said they are Interested. Supporters who sign up as Going or Interested in attending will receive reminders and can spread the word and invite their Facebook contacts. Facebook notifies people of local events coming up in their area.
Your Event Page can link to other pages with more information, to buy tickets or to your event’s website.
After you create your Facebook Event, you can update the post, share it on different pages or social media channels, or promote it on Facebook as a paid ad.
3. Submit Your Event to Free Local Community Calendars
Local papers, magazines and online calendars want to promote local events. Submitting events to many online calendars is totally free. Take the time to research your local community calendars, submit them according to their guidelines and deadlines and get your event included in as many as possible.
4. Connect With Local, County and State Culture Councils & Visitor Bureaus
Your local visitor or culture bureau is an expert resource on what’s happening in your community, and how to spread the word. They offer good advertising rates for nonprofits and want to help promote cool events and cultural organizations that promote the community.
Local visitor bureaus have a huge reach and lots of great resources for nonprofit event marketers, as well as education sessions and grants you can take advantage of.
5. Choose a Catchy But Memorable Name
Your event name sets the tone. Pick a clever name for your event – but not so clever people don’t understand it or so unique they can’t remember it! Use a title that is catchy but clear – and sometimes blunt is better!
6. Have an Online Marketing Budget and Know Your Target Audience
Budget a little money to target the right people on social media. Yes, social media is free to use and post. But social media is very crowded, and everyone is trying to get eyeballs on their event. A small budget can go a long way on Facebook and Instagram ads – as little as $1 – 5 per day can make sure your posts are seen by your target audience.
Tip: Create client personas that break down the qualities of your target audience into clearly defined demographics. Client personas help you create content to target that specific persona, rather than a more generalized audience. Both Facebook and Instagram let you choose specific demographics when you boost a post or create an ad.
7. Get Your Fans Social
If you run events frequently or have recurring events be sure your fans and supporters can find you online and know your social media handles. Make it easy and fun for them to share your events with their friends and contacts. It’s free advertising for your nonprofit and gives your event an online visibility boost through the power of social proof.
Create a branded event #hashtag
Put a card at each seat or have event signage social media handles and #hashtags, encouraging attendees to GET SOCIAL WITH US!
Provide photo opportunities that people can share, such as photo booths, step and repeat backdrops, or WOW moments.
Successful Event Marketing
A creative but flexible plan and knowing all the resources available in your community will help your nonprofit event succeed. Never put all your marketing eggs in one basket, or rely on last year’s success: your marketing strategy needs a diverse approach that takes advantage of free – or nearly free – tools that help bring attention to your cause while creating an event that your supporters want to attend.