If you work for a nonprofit organization you are probably already very good at producing amazing work with minimal resources and no budget.

We at Bluetrain salute you, and we want to help.

Since 2004, the number of individuals giving to charity has increased by 100% in Alberta. To take advantage of this promising trend, here are 3 ways to market your charity online… for free!

1. Google Ad Grants (Worth $120K/year)

Most people are familiar with Google Adwords, the paid links that appear at the top of search engine results pages. But did you know that charities are eligible for free versions of these ads?

Our digital marketing experts have put together a step-by-step guide (including video introduction) to get you started with Google Ad Grants.

In a nutshell, registered nonprofits are eligible for an average of $329/day worth of text-based advertising. The impact of these ads can be substantial: we’ve seen charity partners double traffic to their website by taking advantage of the grant program. Google also displays a number of case studies that demonstrate the impact the program has had on charity results.

Google really wants to help your charity be the best it can be on the web. They have also teamed up with the Media and Technology Trusts to create Grow Your Charity Online, a website full of tips and tricks including a free digital health check report.

2. Videos & YouTube’s Nonprofit Program

Video can be a great way to tell your organization’s story, and making a short film doesn’t have to be expensive.

YouTube offers nonprofits a variety of free account upgrades, including direct links and donation cards, in association with Google for Good. If you happen to spend time in Los Angeles or London (UK), YouTube also provides free editing and shooting space to charities. And there is something just as good right here in Alberta!

Did you know that the Edmonton Public Library has editing software, a green screen, a collection of free background music, and much more in the Makerspace? Their TechXpert volunteers can also teach you about video and help get your project started. For even more free software and resources check out Canadian non-profit TechSoup.

Like any form of media, great content is crucial. Here are two awesome guides to video content: one from Distilled, and one from YouTube.

Need some inspiration? I love this example from charity: water. Catchy song, important message, very shareable = over half a million views! In fact, charity: water is so good at what they do that Kissmetrics has featured them in this comprehensive blog post about online marketing.

3. The Power of People

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow charities to connect with communities of people who care about the same cause.

One option is to fundraise directly through social networks. For example, Facebook offers a free Donate Now button for nonprofits. Social media is a great way for fundraising volunteers to encourage their friends and family to get involved – think about how any time you see friends posting about Run for the Cure or Movember.

E-newsletters are another fantastic marketing tool, allowing you to contact your supporters directly with curated content. MailChimp, for instance, offers beautiful newsletter templates for free.

Struggling to get newsletter sign-ups? Create a lead magnet! Offer fun and useful bonus content, like an infographic or your latest white paper, in exchange for contact details.

Wondering where to start? By using the free Social Crawlytics tool, you can see what kind of content is working to raise awareness and drive web traffic for other nonprofits.

Finally, you may have the perfect social media evangelist right at your fingertips. Find out how to transform your CEO or Director into a social media savvy advocate for your organization with this awesome video from Moz (the whole post is pretty great too).

One Last Thought

It can be frustrating to think that your online marketing campaign has to compete with the budgets of corporations and advertising firms. But charities have one big advantage: your amazing, resonant, hard-hitting, important, inspiring content.

This post has provided an introduction to

  • Google Ad Grants,
  • videos and the YouTube Nonprofit Program, and
  • the power of social media.

But at the end of the day, it’s fantastic content that will 
give you the edge on search engine results pages. And that’s something that nonprofits have covered. After all, you are working for causes that truly touch people’s hearts. So keep up the great work, and thank you.

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