67 Fundraising and Marketing Tips for NPOs

Wednesday, 15 July, 2015 - 11:55

Trialogue, a consultancy focusing on issues of corporate social responsibility, shares 67 fundraising and marketing tips for NPOs in celebration of Nelson Mandela Day 

Since its establishment in 2009, the global Mandela Day movement has inspired people across the world to contribute at least 67 minutes of their time towards changing the world for the better. As we play our part, we also want to celebrate the organisations that spend every day doing good.
Trialogue is a consultancy that focuses on issues of corporate social responsibility. We host regular forums with corporates and nonprofit organisations (NPOs), and our much-anticipated annual CSI conference facilitates in-depth engagement between the sectors. Drawing from the insights we have gained from our vantage point, understanding the needs and demands of both sectors, we have rounded up 67 fundraising and marketing tips for NPOs, in celebration of Mandela Day.

  1. Diversify your funding base with dedicated strategies for high net worth donors, public mass donors, and corporates. Individual funders should be further segmented based on their level and type of giving.
  2. Have a clear strategy for maintaining each donor type, not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
  3. Appoint a driver – while it is good for all staff members to contribute to fundraising, there should be someone dedicated to bringing in donors.
  4. Ensure that the organisation’s leadership holds the primary relationship with your funding partners.
  5. Share your vision with partners and potential funders. Nothing sells better than passion and commitment.
  6. Make sure that your organisation is visible to funders by signing up to the Trialogue Funders Guide to social development in South Africa, by 31 July 2015.
  7. Identify well-known and reputable brand ambassadors. This relationship should not just be about their popularity - be sure that your philosophies are aligned as well.
  8. Take time to research and understand the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE Codes), and the opportunities these may present.
  9. Companies’ corporate social investment (CSI) budgets may not be the only possible source of revenue. Consider how you can tap into marketing budgets, skills budgets or other elements of the BBBEE scorecard.
  10. Explore whether companies who want to support your organisation, but do not have the money to do so, could possibly contribute professional skills and expertise in kind. 
  11. Enquire about companies’ redundant assets that could either be donated or purchased at minimal cost, to help meet your organisation’s needs.
  12. Ask corporates to fund your organisation holistically, emphasising what it takes to function sustainably, and packaging your administration and marketing costs within your total value proposition.
  13. Ensure the tick-box qualifying criteria are properly met. Your application will not get through the screening process if it does not comply with funder requirements. 
  14. Ensure that you can provide corporate funders with documentation that enables them to fully claim SED points on their BBBEE scorecard. Make this process easy for the companies by ensuring that the points claimed are irrefutable. 
  15. Adopt a targeted approach, investing time in understanding funding patterns and agendas of target companies and customising your pitch, rather than flooding the market with generic funding requests.
  16. It is important to maintain your organisation’s current fundraising efforts, but remember to also stay open to innovations in the funding arena, so that your organisation will be prepared for the next frontier. 


  1. Your reputation as a credible partner rests on your ability to deliver. Ensure that your marketing is underpinned with credible stories of success.
  2. Be transparent. Organisations that publish their financials and account for their work gain the confidence of funders.
  3. Share challenges as well as successes. We all know development is not easy. Those that tell it like it is rather than only showing their good news will gain greater trust.
  4. Make sure you have a credible monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and do the monitoring wherever you can to ensure you are able to share metrics on progress and outcomes with your funders.
  5. Engage your funders about what feedback they need so that you can provide one comprehensive report, rather than different feedback reports for different funders.
  6. Ask your leading funders to share the cost of developing a robust M&E framework. After all, it is in their interests that this be done.
  7. Invite external experts to reviews your methods. Not only will this allow you to refine your approach, but it will build trust as well.
  8. Get involved with others who work in your sector. There is more to gain through collaboration than operating in isolation.
  9. Write up case studies of your work, highlighting both achievements and challenges. Do not restrict these to anecdotal stories or isolated examples of success.
  10. Understand and communicate your relationship with government. You are more likely to attract funding if you support the work of government rather than function as an alternative solution.
  11. Consider how you can leverage your impact, for example by sharing lead practice and influencing others in the developmental sector, or replicating initiatives that work.


  1. It can feel like a lot of work for smaller amounts of money, but if you develop a strong and memorable campaign, it can be as valuable for building your brand as it can be for raising funds.
  2. Be relentless about the marketing.
  3. Find a strong hook - think creatively to get people to join the campaign.
  4. It does not have to be complicated - remember how trendy those simple yellow Livestrong armbands became?
  5. Steer clear of false marketing – remember how quickly those yellow Livestrong armbands faded?
  6. Set targets - for both your overall campaigns and for the charity champions/brand ambassadors involved.
  7. Make sure that your organisation’s campaign is asking for something as tangible as possible – be clear about what it costs per beneficiary to your project, for example. This motivates champions and backers to reach the target.

Marketing and Branding 

  1. Start with building your brand by strengthening it in the communities and amongst the people that your organisation already works with.
  2. Ensure that your brand is recognisable and memorable.
  3. Stand the chance to win a full-page, professionally designed advertisement worth R42 000 – participate in this research survey by Monday, 27 July 2015, to assist in creating valuable benchmarks and trends in the social investment and development arena.
  4. Information about your organisation should be coherent and aligned across various marketing material and platforms. For example, the language and tone may be adapted, but your organisation’s brochure should say the same thing as your website and social media pages.
  5. Embrace the tagline - sum up what your organisation does in one line, to make your organisation’s work feel accessible and relevant to the general public.
  6. Make sure that your logo is user-friendly, not just for your own organisation, but for partners. Have it available in different formats, including JPEG, PNG and GIFF, high resolution and low resolution, full colour, black and white, and transparent (for printing on darker backgrounds). The more places your logo is featured, the more brand recognition your organisation could earn.
  7. With #41 in mind, ensure that your logo is not misrepresented and that you control which project partners have access to it and on what terms.
  8. Pull up a banner at all your events and always have brochures and business cards on hand.

Social Media 

  1. It is here to stay. In fact, social media platforms will continue to diversify as user popularity grows. Instead of newspapers, this is where many social media users are consuming their news from. So, if your organisation has news that it wants to share with the general public, it is worth developing a strong social media presence.
  2. This does not mean that you should be on all social media platforms. Consider the nature of the content that your organisation will be sharing, and which social media platforms will best support those.
  3. Facebook and Twitter are still the most popular platforms among South African NPOs.
  4. Facebook should be updated daily, at least.
  5. Since Twitter moves much faster, it may require a little more attention. The more Tweets you are able to send out per day, the better.
  6. If you are pressed for time and resources, use a social media management application, such as Hootsuite, to help schedule your organisation’s posts.
  7. Your posts are more likely to be spotted between 7am and 9am, as people are getting settled at their desks, scrolling through their newsfeeds over their morning cuppa. Lunchtime, between 12pm and 2pm is also a popular time.
  8. Follow peer organisations to help build a network of collaboration, rather than competition.
  9. A ‘tweet’ or ‘tag’ can be more attention-grabbing than a standard email. If your organisation has been trying to make contact with someone, with no success, try their social media channels.
  10. Tweet live from your organisation’s events to ensure that those who cannot be there can still participate in the exchanges.
  11. Cross-market - share links to your organisation’s social media pages on other platforms, including your organisation’s website, newsletter, staff email signatures and business cards, and any other marketing material, such as banners and brochures.
  12. Do not be controversial for the sake of it. If you are going to start a debate on social media, be sure that your organisation has the capacity to fully and insightfully engage the debate.
  13. Words are wonderful, but images really enliven posts. The more colourful and thought-provoking, the better.
  14. Stock photos are fine, but original photos that authentically depict your organisation’s work is much better.
  15. Get as many staff members and supporters to Tweet about your organisation from their own accounts - the more people tweeting at or tagging your organisation, the more familiar your brand will become.
  16. Have fun! Use social media posts to push you to get creative and excited anew about the work that you do.

Media Relations 

  1. If you read, watch or hear interesting media that’s relevant to your organisation’s work, save the name/s of the journalist/s responsible for the piece, so that you can share information about your organisation’s work with them. It may get your organisation direct media attention, or it may help to deepen the way an issue is presented in future.
  2. Deepen existing media conversations or debates by publishing opinion or insight articles.
  3. If articles are too daunting or demanding, shorter letters to the editors of newspapers could be an easier alternative for expressing views.
  4. A quick Google search of any media house will pull up contact details that you can use to help research how best to get your piece published.
  5. Media releases can help to spread the word about your organisation’s position on a controversial issue, an event you may be hosting or an initiative you may want to encourage public participation in.
  6. If your media release is about a specific project, be sure to include information about the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the initiative. The last line of your media release should include the contact information of your organisation’s spokesperson. 
  7. Invite media to your events. If it gets coverage, the topic will remain relevant well after the event has ended.
  8. Review the news regularly to find links between current affairs and the ongoing work that your organisation does, to help keep up to date with possible linkages and opportunities.

Bonus tip! 

  1. Congratulate yourself for making it all the way down this list, and be sure to visit www.trialogue.co.za regularly, to stay abreast of CSI developments and insights.

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