For many non-profits, events are an essential part of helping the organization thrive. Whether these events are designed to raise money, deepen relationships, thank supporters, or increase awareness about the cause, the success of an organization may rest on its ability to draw people to these events. However, non-profits also tend to have budget constraints when it comes time to advertise an event. These organizations are interested in dedicating as much money as possible to their core purpose, and that makes for a very small promotional budget. There is rarely a budget to hire an event planning company or purchase expensive advertising. So, how can you get the word out about your next non-profit event even if you have no budget? Here are some tips to help you advertise your event and get the turnout you have always hoped for.
1. Start Early
It is incredible what you can accomplish at the last minute if you have plenty of money to spend. However, when you are working with little to no budget, the earlier you start, the more success you are likely to have. Savvy non-profits begin planning a year or more out. While they might not begin to advertise an event until closer to its date, the initial planning kicks off as early as possible. Since you won’t likely be hiring an event planning company to do the work, you will probably be relying on minimal staff or volunteer labor to get the job done. The more time you have, the better your results.
2. Be Clear About What You Are Hoping to Accomplish
When it comes to promoting events, especially with no budget, the level of clarity is often the best indicator of potential success. Start asking and answering questions like:
- What is the purpose of the event?
- What are we hoping to achieve?
- Who is the target audience?
- How will we measure the success of the event?
The better job you can do answering these questions, the easier it will be to get the word out about your event to the right people.
3. Use Social Media
This is certainly not a new idea. Non-profits have been leveraging social media as a way to advertise an event for years now. But this is more about posting information. Since Facebook is currently a popular and effective way to promote non-profit events, here are some tips to get more impact out of your promotional efforts on Facebook.
Create a Facebook Event – Create an event on your non-profit’s Facebook page and be sure to include all the details. This is a great place to advertise an event and allow others to help spread the word. People can create reminders about the event, express interest in attending, and even use the event page to invite their friends. Once you create this event page, don’t forget about it. Use it to post periodic updates and reminders about the event to keep people engaged.
Use Facebook Live to Announce – Facebook Live videos are one of the most effective and underused features on Facebook. Facebook works hard to promote the live platform, so they design their algorithms to ensure as many people as possible see these videos. So, when it is time to announce your event, make a big deal, and launch it live on Facebook. Just be sure you are ready. Your live video may create some buzz. So, make sure all of the information is available and, if you are planning on selling tickets online free with a service like Meeti, be sure they are ready.
Continue to Use Video – Video is the best way to catch people’s attention on Facebook. So, grab your smartphone and create short videos to help with promotion. Some ideas include videos from featured speakers, organizational leaders, event planners, volunteers, and event sponsors. And keep those videos short. Thirty seconds to a minute is all you need.
4. Take Advantage of Earned Media
You don’t need a huge budget to promote your event on television and radio or in print. All it takes is an understanding that reporters and assignment editors are always on the lookout for stories to fill airtime or column space. Sometimes media outlets are looking for ways to connect to the community, and other times they are just looking for a good story. Your non-profit may already work to build relationships with the media. If so, use those connections to get a mention, feature, or interview.
It is also a smart idea to create and submit press releases about your event. Most media outlets offer an email address or fax number to submit press releases. Be sure to include all the information a reporter would need to create a story about your event and include a contact number in case they want to follow up or arrange an interview. When writing your press release, spend some time thinking about a newsworthy angle to catch the attention of the media outlet.
5. Promote Word of Mouth
Of all the free ways to advertise an event, word of mouth remains the most powerful. People are far more likely to accept an invitation from a friend or coworker than to respond to any other sort of advertising. But how can you encourage people to talk about your non-profit event and invite their friends? Your existing supporters have the potential to be your largest promotional channel. However, they may need some help. The best way to get supporters to invite others? Just ask. Many of your best supporters need a tiny nudge to get them to promote your upcoming event. Whether it is through a newsletter, email, or a personal ask, remind them of the importance of inviting friends, relatives, and coworkers to the event.