Secret Tools & Tips to Create Professional, Branded Graphics & Marketing Materials
When it comes to marketing, many nonprofits and their staff have a scarcity of a few critical items: time, budget, and expertise. Here is my secret list of marketing tips and FREE tools to help you market your organization professionally.
Marketing for the nonprofit is about story telling. Every story, communication, fundraising letter, website, social media platform is enhanced with professional looking graphics, designs, and images. These free tools will help you put together powerful, attractive messaging and each is very easy to use.
Consistent Branding across all your marketing channels from social media images, reports, marketing collateral, to communications pieces is an important component for your nonprofit. These tools keep your work looking tip top and brand consistent.
This is my personal, all-time favorite free design platform. It is easy to use, has many resources and elements, and automatically sizes your graphics to meet standard social media sizes along with templates for presentations, flyers, magazines, etc.
CANVA provides pre-made templates that you can customize or use for design ideas and inspiration.
The website offers an abundance of fonts, design elements, graphs, and very easy editing options, including a mobile app, so you can edit and create content on the go. They also have extremely affordable elements for purchase as well, if you can’t find what you want in the free category.
PicMonkey is a free online photo editor. There are paid versions and generous free trial periods. It allows you to add filters, frames, text, and effects to images.
Pixabay offers over 1,080,000 high quality photos, illustrations, and vector graphics, no attribution required, and all free. There is always new content being uploaded, and you can search by type of photograph or content.
Word Press offers free web hosting for nonprofits. They have many nonprofit themed web design templates. You can also drop other themes into the WordPress platform, but admittedly that can sometimes make it harder to navigate. It provides integrated features such as sponsor sections and donation buttons too. In it’s basic form it is easy to navigate and edit. And, there many, many plugins for use with WordPress to customize your website.
Yoast is a Search Engine Optimization plugin tool for Wordpress sites. This simple, easy to use tool provides immediate feedback with a ‘red, yellow, green’ button system to evaluate your content for keyword and search engine optimization. Yoast grades your content for SEO and Readability. For me it feels almost like having your teacher grade your paper, while you are writing it. And, it is very gratifying to turn all those buttons green! It helps you optimize each critical area while creating easy to read, SEO friendly blogs and content. This tool helps you increase your search engine results without being an SEO expert.
Every website should have Google Analytics, in my opinion. This free tool by Google provides content and feedback on who is visiting your website, how long they were there, what pages they went to, how many times each unique visitor was on the site.....as well as comprehensive demographic analytics.
If you are a data junkie like me, this is a gold mine of data for any marketer. Google Analytics is very easy to install on your website, and it works in companion with Google Adwords. More on that great tool for nonprofits in the free Advertising tools section.
SurveyMonkey is a free online survey software tool. There are paid versions that you can upgrade to as well. They offer survey templates written by experts that you can create in minutes, publish, and view results graphically in real time.
Nonprofits often need an easy survey tool, and this is one to get you started.
DATABASE & DONOR MANAGEMENT
SALESFORCE for Nonprofits
Salesforce is a very sophisticated, top of market CRM app that was originally designed for business and sales. They now have a free Nonprofit CRM version. What is a CRM? The definition of CRM is customer relationship management. This app lets you store and manage prospect and donor information, like contact info, companies, leads, and relationships, as well as donor information and giving history, in one central location. It also has an incredible relationship mapping tool – very useful for nonprofits.
The challenge with Salesforce is that it is an investment of time and effort to learn to properly use it. You must then train your staff to feel comfortable with it and to take the time to enter the necessary information to fully benefit from all the incredible components of this CRM. It is worth the effort, if you can get everyone on board.
MailChimp is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service. It is free and offers up to 12,000 email sends free. They have design templates, audience segmentation tools, and data analysis reports. This is great for sending professional e- newsletters, donor letters, e-invitations and announcements to your database and tracking the opens and clicks.
Hubspot offers a tremendous amount of free training and communication templates and tools that should be a part of your nonprofit marketing toolkit. They also offer a free CRM platform. If you have a question on best practices or need help producing specific communications pieces check into Hubspot’s tutorials, templates and guides. Your biggest challenge will be finding the time to enjoy and absorb all the information.
GOOGLE ADWORDS GRANTS
Did you know that Google provides Google Adwords Grants (read free Google advertising) of $10,000 per month to nonprofits? You must complete a very brief questionnaire to qualify. Let’s be honest, Google Adwords is not the simplest platform to work within. It can be challenging, but if you can persevere through the learning process, you can benefit with free monthly Google Adwords for your nonprofit, events, special campaigns, etc.
Of course, your nonprofit has established and is maintaining a well-developed, active presence on the primary social media platforms, right? Talk about free! You can reach thousands of people, engage your core communities, develop and attract new partners through your social media sites.
We are talking about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest.
You now know about design tools, like CANVA, to create awesome, branded graphics, and empower your nonprofit with compelling stories and connections.
If you need help with best practices for robust social media marketing check out Social Media Examiner (www.socialmediaexaminer.com) and don’t forget Hubspot (www.hubspot.com) for great guides and templates.
These are just a few of the wonderful free tools I have discovered and use every day. I hope you find them useful. And, I wish you joyful, creative branding and marketing experiences, as you design your nonprofit’s brand awareness and community engagement.