5 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing For A Non-Profit Event

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

By definition, non-profit organizations are groups that are considered publicly beneficial entities such as public charities. They are also tax-exempt under tax code 501(c)(3).  This includes community foundations, however, they are treated differently than public charities when it comes to taxes. These organizations operate without the intent of turning a profit, but rather exist to give back to the community.

Many people make 1 or more of these 5 mistakes when they are trying to promote a non-profit event because they fail to acknowledge the difference between marketing for regular events verse nonprofits. While reading these top 5 mistakes, try to identify which ones you might be making if any and how to avoid it in the future.

To better understand each mistake, we are going to be using American Red Cross as our examples for what you should be doing and how they avoided each mistake. 


1. Not telling the story of the non-profit or providing visuals


three people blood donation drive

It is important to always tell the story of the non-profit when appealing to the public. Make sure they know what the cause is all about and tell them why it should be important to them and/or how they can help make a difference.

In order to make the appeal more effective, promoters should use visuals such as video and images that help tell the story and create emotion. By not telling the story of your non-profit, your audience will not make a connection or be able to find one thus probably do not attend your events or offer support.

Red Cross has a variety of ads that do an excellent job at telling their story in creative ways. These ads help their audience understand what the cause is for in a positive and creative way rather then just spelling it out. 


2. Forgetting  to consider fundraising psychology

There are especially effective approaches that can create interest in a nonprofit campaign; one approach is considering the psychology behind fundraising and using that to your advantage. Understanding how the target audience feels about the organization’s cause will help tailor an approach that draws their attention and is customized for their market.

The donors and attendees want to feel as if they are making a difference, so show them; outline how they as individuals can make and impact a cause. As the event or fundraiser nears their goal, people are more likely to donate because they can see that they are helping hit the target amount and contributing to something that actually made it’s goals. Getting through to the audience is the key to your event’s success, so clearly outline those who are directly affected and exactly how many people can be helped.

The image below shows Red Cross’s app for their donors. They are considering the fundraising psychology by allowing their users a variety of tools to satisfy common needs and tools for fundraising such as being able to set and control your own appointments, track your donations, find locations to give blood and the ability to easily join teams.

Donors not only want to help you complete your goals, but by giving them all these tools throughout the process of donating, people are more likely to continue to donate. 

fundraising psychology example for nonprofit campaign



3. Failure to explain what makes the cause worthy

One of the most important parts of running an effective campaign and creating an interest in an event is conveying why the event or charity is worthy of the target audience’s attention and donations.

Convince patrons to connect with the cause and show them how they can make a difference with their time, attention, and donations. To avoid this mistake, you can use the fundraising psychology tactic and create a campaign that will show your audience how they are making a difference, where the funds are going, and why this is an important event.


4. Failure to use the modern world technology and advancements


track your blood app

Even non-profits must stay in touch with the latest technology so they can reach their target audience more effectively. Use as many social media platforms as possible as well as incorporate apps and websites. Use the latest SEO strategies to help drive traffic to designated websites, apps, and social media outlets.

This is a world of technology, and while many people can choose whether or not to embrace it, if you want to attract a huge audience and donors I recommend embracing it!

The Red Cross app utilizes the technology advancements by allowing their donors to track their blood journey and watch it make it’s way to the hospital. This allows their donors to be able to experience their donation and know that it is actually going towards what it is suppose to. 

Here is a list of ways you should embrace technology:

1. Website and ticket sales online

2. Mobile apps, calendars or appointment setters

3. Social media 

4. Online funds tracker (there are a variety of free online tools that let nonprofits conducting fundraisers to update the donation counts online so your audience can follow your organizations progress)

5. GoFundMe


5. Forgetting to identify a target audience or marketplace before creating campaigns

One of the most important parts of promoting an event is to define the target audience. Some research should help outline the marketplace that would most likely respond to promotional efforts and the topic of or nonprofit. Use as many resources as possible within the non-profit community to identify the groups that would help reach target goals, donations and draw attention to your events.

Here are a few things you need to identify to establish a marketplace:







For more information about effective promotion strategies and marketing efforts for non-profits, visit Purplepass and create a buzz for future events. Promoters who understand the importance of campaign and event promotion strategies will have greater success.




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