We don’t always have the time – or the money — to publicize our philanthropic organizations in all the ways the media experts say it should be done, i.e. creating and maintaining a website, putting together media kits, having a constant presence on Twitter.
Maybe we have the time and expertise it takes to set up the website, but what volunteer has the time to maintain it, much less keep up with a blogging schedule?
Volunteers with that kind of expertise are usually busy with jobs that pay their bills. Besides, a constant reliance on such a volunteer can soon lead to burnout.
Putting together a media kit with the recommended thumbnail biographies, statistics, testimonials, press clippings, photos, and brochures can also be overwhelming.
Here are some easy tools you can use to publicize your nonprofit that cost nothing except a little time.
1. Press releases
The best publicity is free publicity. Send a short e-mail to a local reporter, requesting coverage of an upcoming event, news of your organization, or an interesting story about one of your members. Local newspapers are always looking for local stories, and a journalist covering your story gives it credibility that expensive advertising can’t. Time to write the e-mail? 15 minutes.
2. Nonprofit Facebook page
Create a Facebook page for your nonprofit. It’s a nice, easy, casual way to stay in touch with members of your group and others who might have interest in your cause. Set-up time? Maybe 30 minutes for someone familiar with Facebook. Maintenance: 15-30 minutes a week.
3. Your Facebook profile
Frequently mention your involvement in your nonprofit. At your next meeting, decide on a day when all your supporters will display the same cover photo on their Facebook pages. If the day relates to your cause – World Malaria Day [April 25], or World Autism Awareness Day [April 2], for instance – so much the better. Time spent? None. You’ll be on Facebook anyway. Might as well use that time for a good cause.
4. You-Tube videos
Check to see if your nonprofit has a You-Tube channel, or search You-Tube for videos that illustrate the importance of your cause. Once a week or so, share videos on your Facebook page. Time? 15 minutes a week.
Publicize your interests on Twitter. If you already have a Twitter account, begin following people in your nonprofit and in other nonprofits that have a similar cause. Simply re-tweet their messages. You might also share insights you’ve learned from your experience with nonprofits. Time spent? 5-10 minutes twice a day.
6. Instagram Photos
At your next meeting or special event, snap a picture of the activities with your smart phone and use the free Instagram app to upload it to your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, or Flickr profile. Time? 5 minutes maybe?
7. Google Alerts
Google has made it easy to set up an alert for news items on your nonprofit or your cause. Share the items via your Facebook profile or your group’s Facebook page. Set up a separate G-mail account for the alerts, and check the account once a week for the most engaging news. Time? 10 minutes, if you don’t agonize over the “best” choice.
How Do You Know It’s Working?
Decide on the kind of response you want in the next month or two or three. Facebook friends commenting on your posts? Re-tweets? More engagement from organization members?
How about one or five years from now? You might want to see a certain percentage increase in donations or an increase in membership or in community involvement.
An ultimate goal might be that when you mention your organization, people immediately know your cause. “Oh, yeah! You’re the ones who work with parents of autistic children!” Or, “Aren’t you the group that’s trying to eradicate malaria?”
Best yet, when people hear news or come across people they know with challenges like malaria or autism, they come to you as the expert in knowing how to help.
More suggestions? What effective, no-cost, easy ways have you used, or what strategies would help you notice – and then care about – a particular cause?