Nonprofit and charity organizations, like all businesses right now, are struggling to make ends meet, to support the people they strive to help and keep their operations running. During these tough economic times, both small businesses and nonprofits are looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to the public — in the least expensive way.
Over the past six months, I’ve seen an increase in the number of charities that are advertising and the ways in which they are advertising. Advertising, refreshing a website and creating materials so people know what the nonprofit does, of course, cost money, even if an agency offers a reduced rate. Some donors can be touchy about money spent on things that keep the nonprofit operating; they want to believe that their money is going directly toward helping a person in need. And regardless, it does help, albeit indirectly through supporting the organization so that it in turn can support those in need.
This became a topic of discussion among my friends not too long ago: Should nonprofits advertise?
Some said absolutely, they have to. A nonprofit organization is run like any other business. Each nonprofit must cover its overhead and provide income to continue the programs they provide. Others thought the money donated to a nonprofit should strictly go to the people in need that the organization helps and supports.
The fact of the matter is competition for donation dollars among nonprofits is greater today than in years past. They’re feeling the effects of the down economy, too. In order for potential donors to become and remain aware of a nonprofit, the organization must advertise in some form. Again, indirectly the use of this money indeed does help those in need: It encourages donations from people who otherwise wouldn’t know about the organization or who might have forgotten about it, and that increases overall donations.
With all of the new advertising mediums available now — mobile marketing, viral videos, online donations — charities are going to have to mix it up to compete with others already on the advertising bandwagon.
What charities have you seen advertising lately? Were they on TV or radio, in the newspaper, sent via direct mail, e-mail communications, banner ads, or some other medium? Do you think nonprofit organizations should have an advertising budget?
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