Promotion essentially means spreading the word without buying advertisements. From T-shirt giveaways to launch parties to kick off your ticket sales campaign, there are plenty of ways of promoting your activities that won't cost you as much as advertising.
Promotions That Work
A promotional activity that helped one nonprofit organization increase single ticket sales was for something called the Lobster Pot, a fundraiser with a $30 per-person ticket price. Throughout the history of the event, the organization relied solely on its members to sell tickets. This method worked well for them; about 500 tickets were sold each year.
It never hurts to have a kickoff event to promote your upcoming fundraiser and draw the attention of the media. Another way to promote your event is to create photo opportunities with captions the print media might want to publish.
One summer, there was concern about the ability to continue to reach the goal of 500 tickets, let alone surpass it. Promotional activities were introduced for the first time to create awareness of the event before the ticket selling began. The two major promotion activities were press releases and letters of endorsement. Local newspapers ran photographs and short articles based on the press releases they received. The letters of endorsement were sent to businesses in town.
As in past years, members sold the tickets. They made sure to knock on the doors of the businesses that had received the letters of endorsement. The result was an all-time record, with ticket sales jumping to 630.
If, for example, you procure sponsorship for giveaway items, give them away in any number of methods. From a contest at a local high-profile sporting event to handing out freebies in a busy mall, giveaway items and prizes draw attention.
You may be able to tie in your fundraising activity to another local event. For example, one organization that was raffling off a boat arranged with a local boat show to have the drawing at the show.
Tie-ins with sports are successful in promoting charities. For example, a promotion might include a donation of $1,000 from a sponsor to a certain charity whenever the home team hits a home run or the high school football team scores a touchdown. These kinds of tie-ins are hard to get at the professional level but are more easily attainable at a local, minor league, college, or high school level.
A well-timed presentation of an award to a local celebrity or community hero is another way to promote your organization. Your budget will dictate how much you can spend on promotion. Your creativity can then stretch your promotional budget a long way.
A Little Help from Some Little Friends
Although you want to stay within the bounds of good taste and safety, you can create new and unconventional means of promoting your organization or upcoming fundraising activities. Consider North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems. In 1953, the entity was simply North Shore of Manhasset, and fundraisers got the community involved by collecting pennies — 250,000 in total — from local schoolchildren. The hospital also had celebrity support from stars of the day, including Joan Payson, the owner of the New York Mets, and singer Perry Como.
Getting children enthusiastic about raising funds for a local cause is a great way to muster support from their families and generate buzz in the community. Over the years, publicity has sometimes manifested itself in bizarre ways. You don't necessarily want to try these stunts, but you can get your creative juices flowing by pondering some offbeat methods of promotion.