Use Publicity to Supercharge Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising

marketing strategy publicity May 20, 2018

Spring is traditionally the time when many nonprofits gear up their fundraising efforts. Longer days and warmer weather plus feelings of renewed energy make it a perfect time to host fundraising events.

Prime timing however is just one important factor to consider in planning a successful fundraising event.

Event marketing and promotions then takes center stage and at that point, the task list gets long….and can be pretty pricey too!

  • Invitations
  • E-communications
  • Website notifications
  • Social Media posts
  • Flyers
  • Newspaper and radio advertising

I could go on. 

BUT, one important piece of the event marketing and promotional puzzle that is often overlooked is publicity outreach.

It’s often viewed as an insignificant marketing task with hit or miss results.

I can tell you however with confidence and assurance based on results we’ve produced for many of our nonprofit clients, publicity outreach works!

Here’s how.

It can connect you to the people who might not know your nonprofit even exists and introduce you to new supporters.

New supporters is the key word here because if you just market in your established networks and channels (your email list, the people following you on Facebook, etc.) you are really preaching to the choir. And while staying in touch and inviting current and past supporters to your fundraising events is important, getting potential new donors exposed to the mission of your organization is critical to the sustainability of your nonprofit. 

So let’s sow some seeds with media professionals and influencers and build a relationship with those who can get the word out about your mission to a whole new audience.

Cultivating the media does not have to be an intimidating, time consuming project. It doesn’t involve you creating a huge presentation or doing hours of research. It really all starts with a simple email. 

Despite a competitive market, news publications, radio shows, podcasts and website are always looking for the next story. It’s a machine that needs to be fed all the time.

The first step in connecting with the media is not a massive pitch or “deep-dive” analysis. It’s checking out where you want to be featured and where your story fits well, who’s doing the writing or broadcasting about organizations like yours, and saying, “Hello.” 

Start with who you know. For example, reach out to the person who writes community events for your local paper. Introduce yourself and attach a press release on your upcoming fundraiser. Then reach out to a monthly publication in your area and see if there’s interest in doing a feature about your cause.

Don’t forget local radio. They often are on the hunt for guests and are looking for leaders in the community who are working to make conditions better.

And if you have a little bit of a budget, there are some other great ways to get your nonprofit and its fundraising events noticed on an even grander scale.

The first obvious one is a little advertising on Facebook. Without much money, you can craft ads that drive folks to your fundraising page or to the registration page for your event. My company recently did a matching grant campaign for a nonprofit to raise $5,000 in five days. We sent emails through the nonprofits mailing list and did a modest $100 regional Facebook campaign.

The result? The organization raised $5,000 by the second day and more than $9,000 over the length of the campaign. One out of four donors (25 percent!) came from the Facebook ads.

Another option to consider is distributing your media release through a professional distribution service like PRNewswire. It’s a little more expensive (there’s an annual cost plus a fee per media release) but it will not only send to thousands of journalists, it will also introduce you to media outlets you might not have considered.

For example, media releases we have sent on behalf of a museum got distributed to dozens of travel and entertainment sites and bloggers who shared the news about a new exhibit at the museum. 

So whether it’s connecting with your local media with an email or a phone call or turning to a professional media release distributor, there’s a slew of ways for you to capture more attention for your nonprofit and supercharge your fundraising efforts this spring with publicity as part of your marketing mix. It’s well worth the effort.