When Monkeys Are Out of the Question


How to find budget efficiencies when marketing nonprofits

Familiar with the Infinite Monkey Theorem? Of course you are. As we all know, the Infinite Monkey Theorem suggests that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number typewriters over an infinite amount of time will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Pretty simple.

Now, if this were actual client work, there’s one thing we could be sure of: a project of this scope wouldn’t fit within a strict, limited budget. NASA? Maybe. A nonprofit? Definitely not.

So, let’s get this out of the way. Sadly, there isn’t an unlimited supply of monkeys who know the home row. And even if there were such a thing, it’d cost a pretty penny. While we can also agree that transcending time won’t fit in many budget proposals either, it’s still possible to create awesome work – award-winning, even – on a fixed budget. Simple question: how?

Sometimes you got to be a baller on a budget.

By nature, nonprofits must reinvest most of their profits into their mission, usually leaving less of a budget for things like advertising and promotions than, say, a typical for-profit company. But marketing a nonprofit organization can be rewarding in its own right, even if the budget is somewhat limited. 

Here are a few suggestions for finding efficiencies:           

  1. Leverage existing assets – Use the materials you already have, like photos, videos, brochures, etc. You already own them and they can easily be repurposed.

  2. Explore social media 1. It’s free; 2. There’s a good chance your nonprofit already has an online presence with room to grow; 3. This is where some repurposed existing content and creative ideas (think facebook contests and iphone videos) can go a long way on a low budget; 4. If you can get something to go viral – boom – large audience with little, or even no, cost.

  3. Check out Google Ad Grants – part of the Google for Nonprofits program. If your nonprofit qualifies, you could receive $10,000 USD (up to $40,000 USD for Grantspro participants) of in-kind AdWords advertising each month. To qualify, your organization must:

    Apply to Google for Nonprofits.
    • Hold valid charity status. (Refer to the Google For Nonprofits site for eligibilty guidelines, including definitions of charity status in your country.)
    • Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
    • Have a live website with substantial content.

    Governmental entities and organizations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, childcare centers, academic institutions and universities are not eligible for Google Ad Grants. However, philanthropic arms of educational institutions may be.

  4. Push content marketing – Create compelling yet relevant content that helps your clients, and use a blog or social channel to drive engagement. This takes a little research, some wordsmithing and an audience who needs information.

  5. Work with familiar vendors – If you have a strong working relationship with a vendor (like a printing company, media contact or paper rep) they may be able to give you a discount or donation toward your project, especially if it’s a cause they feel passionately about. They may even have special nonprofit rates. You never know unless you ask. Plus, you can give vendors a credit on your materials (“Work donated by…”), which makes their business look nice and philanthropic.

It’s a budget, not a blockade.  

Not too many projects arrive without their share of challenges challenges – not even the big budget clients. And a limited budget is just that: a challenge. Embrace it and get creative.

We don’t mean to brag, but we’re pretty proud of the work we’ve done for area nonprofits. So, if you need a hand, give us a shout. And if you have a limited budget, just know this: challenge accepted.


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