Using Online Marketing Tactics for your Non-Profit


So, you know all about the tactics that businesses are using to promote themselves and get sales, but yours is a Passion Project (a not-for-profit, I just want to help people not make money, type of project) so you think you can’t use them for your situation.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  The techniques that online marketers use to attract and build an audience to sell to are completely transferable to your situation – where you aren’t necessarily trying to sell a product, but you do want to build a loyal, engaged audience, so that you can touch as many lives as deeply as possible.

At the end of day whether you’re trying to sell items, reach people, provide a service, or just raise awareness, you are trying to get results from the hard work you are doing.  So, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t take the successful online tactics people use to make sales, give them your own spin and use them to help you to connect with more people who need you and what you have to offer them.


From now on, when you’re looking at the different tactics being used, whenever you see the word “sales” just replace it with “results”, and all of a sudden all those strategies and tactics suddenly take on a whole new, non-tacky, useful meaning.

This will let you then see the value and start thinking of how you can use this to attract and connect with your own “tribe”, rather than feeling like a smarmy used-car salesman.



“Your List” is the list of email addresses collected from potential customers and audience members.  People who are interested in what you have to offer and who want to hear from you on a regular basis.

Notice I said grow AND nurture.  This is not just a numbers game.  The value of your list lies just as much in the quality of emails you have on your list as in the numbers.


People have a short attention span. They get busy, their attention is taken by whoever else is talking the loudest in their immediate vicinity at the given time.  So you need to keep yourself at the front of their attention as much as possible (without annoying them).

People don’t visit “you” everyday.  People don’t come daily to your beautiful website. They don’t see the posts you spend hours crafting on Facebook because they just rush by in a blur of their newsfeed, if they even make it there at all. They don’t wake up in the morning thinking I wonder what Project X has going on this week.  This just doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

However, the majority of people in the world have an email account, and the majority of people check their emails on a regular basis .  So, if you can get into their Inbox then you are in the prime position to grab their attention as often as you need (without annoying them).

So, you just need to get them to invite you in!  And what’s a great way to get an invitation from someone? Here’s a few great ways that translate from the off-line world to the online.

Give them a gift

When you invite someone over they often bring a gift.  It’s the polite thing to do.  In the online space we do this too, although we generally give a gift first, to encourage the invitation.

You could think of this as a bribe.  But I like to think of it as a way of making a connection.  As a way to stand out amongst all the other hundreds of thousands of people they could be inviting over.

It’s a bit like meeting someone at a party, and starting to chat with them. Perhaps the conversation comes round to a problem they’re having with their computer…or training their new puppy…or cooking that perfect cake.

If you happen to know the answer to that problem and share it with them then they’ll make a mental note that you’re a helpful, interesting person. Then next time they see you at a party they’ll want to talk with you again and keep the relationship going.

In the online space it works the same way.  If you give someone something (a gift) they value and that helps them out, then next time they see you pop-up in their Inbox they’ll be more likely to want to talk to you again and keep the relationship going.

Help solve a small problem they may be having, show them how to do something, give them a head start on something they need to do soon, and they’ll be more likely to gravitate towards you at the next party they see you at.

Be someone they like to hang out with

In real life you hang out with people whose company you enjoy.  The people who are obnoxious, irritating, or who you just don’t have anything in common with, are the people who don’t generally make it onto the invite list.

SEE ALSO:  7 tips to help you grow your email list

It’s the same with who we invite to spend our online time with as well.

If people enjoy hearing from you.  If they enjoy your company. If you brighten their day, give them something interesting to think about, teach them something new that they can impress their friends with, or entertain them in some way, then they’ll not only invite you in initially, but they’ll keep opening the door (email) each time you show up.

Want to hang out with them

This is not a one-way street.  Remember the word RELATIONSHIP, and that that’s the thing you’re trying to build?

The best relationships I have are not a one-way thing.  There’s mutual affection and plain enjoyment gained from being in relationship. And if you get some value along the way, well that’s an added benefit.


There’s much to be learnt from a close relationship with the people you are working to serve.  You will be providing them with guidance and value, but they will be giving you invaluable insights into their hopes, dreams, desires, pains, needs and everyday life.

This is gold for you as you create resources, information, and develop the right thing to meet the needs of your ideal audience.

Part of this comes from attracting and nurturing the right group of people and enjoying their company so you are bolstered and encouraged by them.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort on and with these people so you need to be hanging around with people who you enjoy.


Ok, so you might be thinking, that sounds like a lot of effort, and is it really worth it? After all, there’s plenty of other things you need to be doing to keep your passion project going.

You own & control it

The answer is yes, and the reason is because you’re building your own personal marketing platform through growing your list.  A platform that you own and control.


Guess what? You don’t own or control your Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or [insert your favourite social media] accounts.

These are all really useful platforms to use free of charge. And you can use them successfully to reach a large audience in ways that are only limited by your creativity.

But at any time “They” (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) can change how things work.  And suddenly the success you were enjoying disappears overnight along with your audience.

However, you do own and control your list. And no one can take that away from you.

So your efforts to build and nurture it are not wasted, and will have long term pay-offs. (This is also true of your website.  Your list and your website are the two online commodities you own.  So your social media efforts should always be used to grow them.)

So keep inviting people to join you on your list at every opportunity, in any way you can think that will be attractive to your intended audience.

It helps grow your tribe

Once someone is on your list, and you are providing value to them, you are building a relationship that creates trust between you.

The next time they need help with x (which just happens to be the problem you solve, or the information you have), they will come to you, their trusted friend to solve it for them.

In the sales world this would generally equate to a product or service that someone had to sell.  But in the world of your passion project this could be anything from advice, consultation, direction, or personal growth that you provide for free or for a small cost.


And at the end of the day being the go to person, whatever that entails for you, is the result you are working for.


So you’re suitably convinced that getting someone on your list is good for your project, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.  You don’t always have something to give, and you certainly don’t have a lot of time to give it in.

I’m not going to lie to you, this will take a little time and effort. Any relationship does.

But after a while you will start to feel the value of the relationship going both ways (and it won’t seem so contrived and one-sided).

Not only will the people on your list want to hang out with you, but they’ll be people you enjoy hanging out with too.  You’ll feel the engagement when they respond to you and start walking the talk you’re sharing with them.

To get to this place you will need to be organised, and put a plan in place so that when life gets busy you’ll know that your list and the relationship you’re nurturing there is on solid ground.

In my next post we’re going to look at how you go about this, and give some real examples of what you can do at each step of the way.


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