Leah Zitter

Leah Zitter

How charities can promote themselves on a shoestring budget

GiveMeTap (Profile) | March 2nd, 2017

It is the rare nonprofit organization that manages to turn a dime. After all, nonprofits function on a limited budget and almost every penny has to bounce back into social good. While 92% of non-profit professionals use content marketing, only 26% believe their marketing strategies are effective. To the extreme, 3% believe their strategies are highly effective. GiveMeTap is one of these companies.

Five years ago, Edwin Broni-Mensah, then a Manchester university student, started GiveMeTap as a nonprofit organization remembering that his parents in Ghana had lacked clean water. For every bottle of water that customers buy, GiveMeTap outfits another community in Africa with water pumps. As of 2016, GiveMeTap has sold 57,724 bottles and completed 20 water projects across Africa, helping 16,199 people gain access to pure water!

We interviewed Sanum Jain, GiveMeTap’s PR person and co-founder who directs PR, Marketing, and Sales. Here are her tips on how to successfully and cheaply market your nonprofit organization.

1. Teach yourself

You can save a ton of money by teaching yourself the necessary skills, instead of hiring professionals. Of course, this has its limitations. There are some skills, such as web programing that it may save you time and money to hire. When it comes to marketing campaigns, however, essential skills, such as writing, sales, or core marketing skills, can be picked up from books or from the Web.

The GiveMeTap team decided to go the self-educating route as much as possible.

Said Sanum: Until to day, almost every marketing campaign is designed and created by ourselves. This involves us learning … also the skills of designers and copywriters. For example, we learned how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, so that we could design our own posters and edit our own artwork.

The education can be torturous. After all, web design, at least, is an evolving field. Social media is certainly so! There are always apps and platforms opening and folding. The team divides the learning among themselves and hires interns who contribute.

“This,” reflected Sanum, “is a continuous learning process on the job as and when we need”.

2. Let your product do the talking

“Instead of just focusing on marketing your existing products, keep on improving your product and make it the best it can be. This way, your customers will feel valued and stay excited about what you are doing.”

Not too long ago, GiveMeTap decided to start customizing their products. More orders flowed in.

Improvement means thinking of your clients and buffing your product so you make their lives easier, or more enjoyable. Little money is involved, but profits can be huge.

Sanum gave the example of 2014, when they used feedback to discontinue one lid type and to improve another. Buyers found the improved lid easier to easier to screw on and off. The company attracted more partners as a result.

3. Lead the game

The most effective non-profit professionals use, on average, 11 different content marketing tactics, with videos, blogs, infographics, online articles, and podcasts or digital seminars being the most common.

It is interesting to note that GiveMeTap follows that rule and publishes articles on popular sites to gain free promotion.

According to Sanum, “I started off by writing pieces for the Guardian and attended events to talk about what we do.”

The trick here was to focus on the larger piece rather than the product. So, Sanum spoke about dehydrated Africans and the happiness these people received from drinking clean water. Readers, stirred by empathy for the victims, turned to GiveMeTap to buy a bottle or two, in order to install pumps in a city that lacked such facilities.

The company has come a long way - on a shoestring budget.

Thanks to Sanum and GiveMeTap for showing how it’s done!