Promote your next event without tapping into your fundraising budget
If you are managing a nonprofit organization, chances are you (and your donors) want as many of your fundraising dollars as possible to go toward your cause. We know, we know. It’s not easy dealing with all the unreasonable expectations attached to how nonprofits invest their overhead. Luckily, nonprofits and donors are beginning to understand the importance of investing in overhead. Staff. Tools. Awareness. Events. And yes, advertising. But, that doesn’t mean nonprofits (like any business, really) shouldn’t be on the look-out for ways to save money.
The good news: there’s free online fundraising event software like Zeffy and, when it comes to promoting your next fundraising event, there are a few free ways to get your message out there?
Let’s take a look at how to promote your nonprofit event for free.
1. Reach out to your donors.
One of the easiest ways to promote your event is to reach out to your donors. Why? Well, we are all more likely to buy something, visit somewhere, or attend a nonprofit’s fundraising event if someone we know and trust has told us all bout it. So, mention your event in your next newsletter, send out some personalized emails, message a few donors on social media, accidentally run into them at the grocery store you know they shop at every Saturday. Reach out to your team members, donors, and volunteers and encourage them to to tell their friends, family, co-workers—anyone and everyone—about your nonprofit’s upcoming event.
How to promote your nonprofit event using email:
If you’re thinking of promoting your next fundraising event via email, there are a couple different approaches you can use. You can send emails directly from your team or board members, or send out a larger email campaign to everyone in your donor database.
If you are thinking of reaching out to your donors with an email campaign or newsletter, here are some free email campaign platforms you can use:
And of course: Zeffy’s donor management software
Whichever route you decide to take (we suggest both), make sure your emails include something along the lines of:
- A save the date email at least three months(ish) in advance with a clear call to action that encourages people to share your fundraising event.
- A second email with more tangible details about how your fundraising event will help you achieve your mission. And, if it’s a yearly event, how last years event helped.
- A reminder email a couple days before the event with any pertinent information (How to get to the event. Dress code. Silent auction info. Parking. Etc.) and a call to action with a step that the reader can take immediately, like adding the event to their calendar, making a donation, etc.
- The every important, always underestimated thank you email.
How to promote your nonprofit event with an actual phone call:
What? An actual phone call!? Do people even answer their phones anymore? The answer is: yes. Especially if they care about your cause. So, go ahead and reach out with a quick call or, at the very least, a text message so your donors and volunteers know to put your event on their radar.
Phone calls don’t have to last longer than five minutes and you can even use the call to check in on your donors, see if they have any questions, and give them a heads up about your upcoming fundraising event. They may even offer to help out! And, if they do, make sure they know that one of the best ways they can help is by encouraging the people they know to attend/buy tickets/etc.
And, you don’t need to call everyone on your list. A phone call will be especially helpful when you are trying to engage supporters who usually attend your events, make large donations, or reserve tables.
After the call, remember to follow up with a text or email with a link to your fundraising event’s page so donors can buy tickets, donate, and share the link.
2. Lean on your local community to help your nonprofit promote its next fundraising event.
Never underestimate the power of your local community to spread the word about your nonprofit’s next fundraising event!
Word-of-mouth communications can be more effective than you think. Ask your board members, team members, and volunteers to reach out to their networks in order to find new attendees for your events. New attendees (and potential donors) will be more likely to come to your event or support your cause if they know someone who is invested in the cause.
Send out a press release to promote your nonprofit’s event.
Another way to spread the message about your upcoming fundraiser is to send out a press release to local media outlets. Newspapers, radio and TV stations will allow nonprofit organizations to advertise events with them and they may even interview you for a short segment. If you’re really lucky, local news stations may also want to report on your event.
In your press release to news media, be sure to include:
- The name of the event.
- The date, time, and location of the event.
- How much a ticket will cost.
- How to buy tickets to the fundraising event. (Maybe via Zeffy’s online ticketing platform…)
- A quote from someone at your organization.
- A brief history of the event. (If there is one.)
Make use of your communities message boards, newsletters, and social media groups.
Does your community have an online calendar, social media group, or newsletter? If so, you may also be able to promote your event by posting a message about it on one of these forums. These are often free resources for all members of the community to promote events and other happenings in your area.
Partner with local businesses and ask them to promote, sponsor, or attend your nonprofit’s event.
Another idea is to partner with local businesses, or even local athletes, musicians, or artists. By partnering with individuals like these who already have established networks (and sometimes fan-bases!) you can much more easily spread the word about your event. You can also check out our guide for securing corporate sponsorships for more ideas about how to get local businesses and figures involved in your cause.
3. Promote your nonprofit on social media.
This one may seem obvious these days, but it’s important to mention anyways.
Spreading the word about your event for free across your nonprofit’s social media platforms and website will work wonders.
You’ll reach your current supporters, donors and followers with one (or a series of posts and messages), they will all be able to easily share the message with their friends and followers, and—if you think there is a need—you can always boost your posts for a teeny-tiny investment.
Create a content calendar.
Before randomly posting and sharing anything, start by creating a content calendar to map our when you will post what. Include posts that will:
- Announce the event and build awareness.
- Reminders about your event with dates, ticket sale info, etc.
- Stories from last year’s event.
- Any ideas for posts during your event.
- A thank you post after your event.
Create an event page.
Aside from creating posts on the different platforms, you can also create event pages that are easy for supporters to share with their friends and family. It’s a great way to get the word out there, encourage more people to attend your event, and share clear call to actions.
Come up with a hashtag.
Many nonprofit organizations will create a hashtag for their fundraiser—especially if it is a yearly event. This is an easy—and of course free—way to boost awareness about your event on social media, and centralize all the information and social posts about the event in one place. When potential attendees look up the hashtag, they will be able to see all of your social communications and what others are posting about the event.
Check out Google Ads.
Your nonprofit organization can also spread the word about the next event to relevant audiences when they search and use social media.
For example, Google Ads offers a grant program for help nonprofit advertise online.