Marketing your nonprofit for free

Hannah Brazee Gregory
Hannah Brazee Gregory

Hannah Brazee Gregory

I say it over and over, and it still rings true: Sometimes the best marketing you can do for your nonprofit takes precious time rather than dollars. Understanding that time is also often just as limited as a nonprofit’s dollars, here is a list to make sure precious time is spent wisely on “free PR” pursuits.

Use Twitter hashtags

If you are not using Twitter and don’t know even what a “hashtag” is, trust me, it learning the ins and outs is worth your time.

If you are using Twitter and still don’t understand hashtags, stop reading this article and spend your time brushing up.

Using hashtags correctly allows you to piggyback off hot topics being discussed in the digital world.

For tips on how to use Twitter effectively, see this article.

Use your website

This may seem like a no-brainer, but too often a nonprofit’s website is under-utilized.

Make sure your website is getting the attention it deserves so it can do its job marketing your nonprofit.

A well-executed website continues to be the most cost-effective tool an organization can use to communicate its good work. It is also an integral part in ensuring you are making use of social media opportunities.

To learn how to make sure a nonprofit’s website is effective, see this article. And to find out if it is time for a new website, try this article.

Get those who love you to “like” you on Facebook

You may have a page on Facebook, but are you happy with how many “friends” (or “likes”) you have?

Your nonprofit has a lot of fans in real life, so make sure you give them the boost they need to make the jump in the online social world.

At every opportunity remind your supporters you are on Facebook and encourage them to connect with you there.

To learn more about how your nonprofit can utilize digital PR, see the Online/Email Marketing section of this website.

Write a letter to the editor

This old-fashioned action is still effective. Luckily, many newspapers are still in business and some are even thriving online.

The only time to write a letter to the editor is when there is a timely, newsworthy reason for it that is directly related to your nonprofit.

The letter itself should not be about your nonprofit. Rather, it should be about an issue related to your nonprofit.

Focusing on issues is the heart of all great media relations. To help you determine what is and what isn’t newsworthy, see this article.

Offer up your nonprofit’s experts

From your fundraising staff to your clinical staff, everyone is an expert at something (or you wouldn’t have hired them).

Offer up your experts to speak at conferences and events, school assemblies, local radio shows and everything in between.

To learn more about how to determine who your nonprofit’s experts are and how to get them in the news, see this article.

And to learn how to better manage your nonprofit’s relationship with the media through effective PR, see the media relations section of the Philanthropy Journal.

Put on a special event

I know what you are thinking – special events cost money.

However, if a nonprofit event is done right, it not only pays for itself, it raises money and awareness.

For more information on how to do nonprofit events right, see this article.

Finally, while there are lots of ways for a nonprofit to market itself for free, all charity organizations need and deserve a marketing budget in the books. To learn how to go about building your nonprofit’s marketing budget, see this article.

Hannah Brazee Gregory is a nonprofit marketing expert, workshop presenter and founder of SHOESTRING, the nonprofit’s agency. She can be reached at or 1-888-835-6236. Follow her on Twitter at @NonprofitPRguru or read her blog at

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