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Nonprofits: 10 Low-Cost Publicity Initiatives to Elevate Your Visibility

In our information-saturated age, the hardest thing for most nonprofits to do is get people’s attention. Your target audience is already bombarded with information and appeals through the internet, social media, podcasts, radio shows, and other outlets.


It’s tempting to throw precious dollars into Facebook ads, local magazines, or radio spots. But we all know how frustrating it is to empty our already-slim budgets into marketing efforts that get little or no results. At worst, you begin to doubt yourself, wondering if your mission will ever get traction. At best, you remain optimistic but feel confused, even paralyzed, when considering the path forward.


So, how can you get people’s attention?


You can begin putting time and effort into low-cost budget initiatives that will pique the curiosity of your target audience, earn you the right to be heard, and nudge them toward action. In this article, I will list ten such initiatives that, taken together, will boost your organization’s visibility tenfold or more.


Consider each initiative as one “star” in your overall publicity “constellation.” Some will be new to your organization; others will involve refinement of something already in place. Regardless, each star, taken by itself, shines a light on your organization. But when placed together artfully, they form a beautiful constellation that illumines your nonprofit and its vital mission.


  1. Core Message. No key unlocks more doors than a timely spoken word. That’s why a nonprofit’s core message—conveyed through vision and mission statements, websites, email campaigns, donor pitches, public talks, and more—is vital to its success. For a core message to be compelling, it must do more than convey accurate information. In today’s crowded air space, information is noise. What does our target audience do when we pipe more noise in their direction? They ignore us. So, to get their attention, you must refine your core message to reflect the target audience’s pain points and position the organization as a solution to their felt needs. This is best done by telling a story in which the target audience is the hero, and your organization is their trusted guide.

  2. Vision and Mission. Sadly, most vision and mission statements are a tangled spaghetti of lofty phrases, lengthy clauses, and complicated words. They are blurred in focus and eminently forgettable. Often, the CEO and Board can’t even cite them from memory. No wonder that nobody else can. So, if you want to create alignment, increase engagement, and fire up the donor base, craft vision and mission statements that are clear, concise, inspiring, and thus memorable.

  3. Website Messaging. Many organizations spend enormous amounts of money on website graphic design but find that their new, visually appealing site doesn’t correlate with an expanded donor base or increased participation. There’s a reason: when seeking to persuade, words matter more than visual appeal. So, without having to spend a dime on website design, you can refine your website messaging. When you build the website messaging effectively around your core message, the target audience sees your nonprofit as the organization that can help them achieve their deepest felt needs—to be generous, be part of a mission bigger than themselves, gain a significant spiritual return on investment, or otherwise.  Do that, and you can reach out, grab the audience by the hand, and pull them in.

  4. Lead Generator. A lead generator is an irreplaceably effective way to build your subscription database quickly. You give your target audience something of value (the lead generator), and they provide you with something of value (their contact information). If you create a lead generator that is interesting (e.g., e-book, checklist, webinar) and helps solve a problem or answer a question, they will be open to staying in touch with you. Free value leads to trust.

  5. Email Campaigns. As you build your subscription database—through the lead generator and other initiatives—don’t squander the opportunity. Nurture the relationship by sending regular, valuable emails that relate to your mission and deliver value to the audience. Additionally, from time to time, initiate a targeted campaign through which you give the audience a specific opportunity they can accept or reject (e.g., financial support).

  6. Resource Tab. Once visitors reach your website, you want to nurture their interest in the organization by offering valuable content—such as articles, white papers, and videos. An ample cache of such resources enhances your credibility in the nonprofit space and encourages users to remain on-site longer, increasing the likelihood they get involved with your organization.

  7. Social Media. Instead of throwing away money on social media ads or wasting time trying to go viral, build a social media strategy that engages your target audience. Stick close to your core message, place your audience at the center of the story, and create content that people will want to interact with and share. These low-cost tactics will grow your reach more than ad dollars or viral content ever will.

  8. Public Talks. You became a nonprofit leader because you and your organization have something to say. Something valuable. So, hone and refine your ability to inspire an audience by giving your talks a clear focus, delivering a memorable opening line, being vulnerable, backing up your claims with evidence, telling stories, and concluding with short-term and long-term calls to action. Effective communication is a skill rather than an inborn trait; any nonprofit leader can learn to give a talk that steals the show.

  9. Published Books. One of the best ways to establish credibility in your niche is to publish a book. Why? Because books — whether eBooks or hardcover — command both attention and respect. In our digital world, they have more perceived authority and value than any number of blog articles, social media posts, or podcast episodes. So, write a book that showcases your nonprofit’s mission, demonstrates your expertise, and elevates your authority on the subject. With the rise of direct-to-market publishing (e.g., Goodwill Media Services), you can publish a transformational book that will boost your visibility immediately.

  10. Traditional Media. If your nonprofit has crafted a compelling core message that it conveys consistently through its website, lead generator, articles, social media, public talks, and books, you won’t find it difficult to land guest spots on radio, podcast, and even television. For many radio shows and podcasts, guest interviews are their bread and butter. So, reach out to show hosts or producers and make them aware of your availability. In no time, you can establish yourself as the ideal media guest to whom producers and hosts gravitate.


Want to leverage your small nonprofit budget to deliver prodigious results? These ten small-budget initiatives provide a sure-fire way to boost your visibility without depleting your resources. When executed cohesively, these initiatives create a powerful constellation that illuminates your nonprofit's mission and magnetically attracts supporters, donors, and advocates.


Now that you have a blueprint for creating a publicity constellation for your nonprofit, it’s time to jump in and get started. However, if these initiatives sound like entirely too much work for the time you’ve got available, we are here to help solve your problem. Schedule a free consultation with us to discuss how we can partner together to boost your nonprofit’s visibility immediately.



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