11 free ways to promote your charity website
Charities and nonprofits have experienced unprecedented challenges to their fundraising activities since the arrival of COVID-19. If your coffers are on the light side, paid advertising and PR may be out of the question.
However, if you have a charity website, there are plenty of ways you can get your message out for free. Here are 11 ideas to get you started:
Host and maintain a blog
If you don't already have a blog on your charity website, consider adding one. A blog will normally have a more personal, human voice than a 'latest news' section and can be used to connect with potential donors and volunteers on a deeper level.
Posting regularly and keeping on top of search engine optimisation (SEO) will help your blog to rank as high as possible. This will enable you to reach more people, making your efforts more productive.
You should also automate your blog posts so that they are shared via your social media accounts wherever possible.
Stay on top of your SEO
The higher your webpages rank on Google and other search engines, the more exposure your charity has to new donors and volunteers. Anything you can do to lift your charity to the top of Page One for your most important keywords will be worth your effort.
Be sure to check how your search listing appears. Are the title and description of your webpages clear and attention-grabbing? If not, rewrite them to help sell your cause. If you're not sure, consider using A/B testing to get some data.
Make sure your content includes your main keywords and learn how to use rich snippets and other tools to make your listing stand out.
Use all of your free Google tools
They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, so make sure you are making full use of the many free tools Google provides to anyone with an account as they can all boost your digital presence at no cost. Setting up and linking Google Analytics and Google Search Console will give you full visibility into pre- and post-click activity on your website.
You can find out what search terms people are typing in to find your website, which webpages are converting best, whether any pages have technical issues and much, much more.
Despite its name, a Google My Business listing is available for non-profits with a physical address. Claiming yours will enable you to add important information and ensure you appear on Google Maps for local searches. You can also create free promotional posts and load photographs to make your listing more exciting.
There is also a separate Google for Nonprofits program which provides resources for charities including £8,000 of free Google Ad Grants.
Google accounts also come with free YouTube channels which can be branded with your charity's logo. This is the perfect home for charities that create video content.
Guest blogging can promote your charity website in several ways. First, you will be able to post a link back to your website, encouraging direct clicks from interested readers.
Second, having relevant 'backlinks' to your website from a range of blogs will improve your SEO.
Third, you can build a personal reputation as a voice for your charity, opening the door for further PR opportunities.
There is a handy trick to tracking down opportunities to guest blog. Type “guest post by” intitle: and then add your charity niche (e.g. “guest post by” intitle:homelessness).
Audit your marketing materials
How and where do potential donors and volunteers come across your charity? They should always be able to click straight through to your website.
Does your email signature include a live link to your charity website? Have you added 'Visit Website' buttons to your social media profiles? Does your guest blog bio include a link?
QR codes may have become less trendy these days but they are still a handy alternative for linking offline assets (posters, flyers, banners, business cards, etc.) to your website.
Give away a free resource or tool
If you can create a free resource or tool related to your charity, you could brand it with your charity's logo and give it away for free, promoting your cause in the process.
Resources might include unique industry reports, e-books, cheat sheets, templates or even pieces of software. For example, if your charity tackles obesity, you could create a simple online BMI calculator, publish the code and invite relevant businesses to use it on their website.
Find press opportunities via Google Alerts
Journalists often contact charities for information or opinion on a topical news issue but how can you make sure you are on their radar? The free Google Alerts tool can let you know whenever a new article on your charity's niche has just been published.
Just as with finding guest blog opportunities, you can use smart parameters to focus your search to a small number of target publications. For example, a charity tackling poverty could set an 'as-it-happens' alert for:
(site:independent.co.uk OR charitytoday.co.uk) intitle:poverty
Then, whenever a new article about poverty appears on one of these two websites, you can reach out to the journalist who wrote it. Since the virtual ink will still be drying, they might be very happy to expand their article with a quote or opinion from your charity. Don't forget to ask them to put you on their 'go to' list for future articles.
Form a partnership
Could you get together with another company – profit or nonprofit – to advance both of your causes together? Perhaps you could run a joint webinar or display online ads on each others' websites.
The best partners are those which don't directly compete for donations or volunteers. For example, if your charity appeals mainly to children, is there a similar organisation that targets adults?
Run email campaigns using Mailchimp
If your mailing list contains 2,000 or fewer contacts, you are eligible for free email marketing via Mailchimp. Create manual and automated email campaigns with user-friendly drop-and-drag templates. You can use these to promote your blog or website news page.
Repurpose existing content
A great way to breathe new life into your charity's content marketing is to take an existing blog post (preferably a long one) and transform it into another form. Popular examples include a video tutorial, infographic, slideshow or podcast. This costs you nothing apart from time.
Comment on popular forums and social groups
Whatever niche your charity specialises in, you can be sure there will be people out there discussing and debating the issues. Investigate both popular generic platforms (e.g. Quora, Yahoo Answers, Pingroupie, etc.) and those which stand out in your niche.
Only post on forums where the rules allow you to include an external link to your website and make sure that your response is both genuinely helpful and relevant to the question or issue being discussed.
We hope that the above ideas will help you to hit the ground running after lockdown, even if the collection buckets are a bit on the light side. Let us know which methods worked for you or if you have any other free promotion tips other charities could benefit from.