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4 Steps to Big Marketing on a Tiny Budget

Guest Post by Tori Fugate

Last month Tori Fugate, Manager of Marketing and Development at KC Pet Project, presented to a sold out crowd about KC Pet Project’s wildly successful growth over the last few years in spite of a limited marketing budget.

Did you miss Tori’s program? She is presenting again on June 14! Click here to save your seat.

Those of us that work in nonprofits know a thing or two about small budgets. For most nonprofits, we either have no funds or a very small amount that can be dedicated to paid advertising for our organizations. When KC Pet Project started in 2012, we had a lot to overcome: a negative image about the Kansas City, MO animal shelter that we took over that had a 40 year history of being a high-kill shelter and we were a brand new nonprofit organization in Kansas City. We had to be creative with our strategy to get the word out about our brand and our animals, without spending hard-earned donor dollars in the process. We had to use out-of-the-box strategies to build awareness for KC Pet Project and creative marketing strategies, and in the process, we have grown to an organization that has over 73,000 Facebook followers and one of the largest organizations to adopt a pet in Kansas City.

Things that we did to get to where we are today: We engaged our audience and learned about them, we focused on content, partnered with the media, and participated in events.

Know & Engage Your Audience
As a nonprofit, when you’re posting on your social media pages, you should constantly be tracking what types of posts do better than others. Find out what your audience enjoys seeing, how many likes and shares your posts receive, and what keeps people talking. It’s ok to try new things. You should constantly be evolving as an organization and always focus on your stories. Talk about the work that you staff and volunteers are doing, post cute pictures telling a story, or make a short video to show your work. There are a lot of easy (and free!) ways to tell you story and get people involved. As you engage your audience, you’ll see more people liking your social media pages. 

Focus on Content
At KC Pet Project, we see a lot of stories come through our shelter. We unfortunately see a lot of negative things, but we also get to see pets leave to go to new homes. We try to focus on the stories that come through our shelter to educate, engage and entertain the public about our pets and our organization. We enjoy sharing the highlights of our organization - like achieving No Kill status, winning major awards and grants, or before and after pictures of the pets that we’ve helped. We also share our struggles, such as hoarding cases, pets that have severe injuries or ailments. We are always honest in our posts and we never share anything that could be considered controversial. 

Always. Be. Positive. 

Work with the Media
The media is one of your best allies as a nonprofit. Every time that your organization is on the air, on the radio or in print is basically a free ad for your nonprofit. Get to know the reporters you work with and always inform the press if you have a potential story. A lot of the times, the stories that feature nonprofits are segments about hope and positive stories for the day. Always be available to the press, even on nights and weekends. And if your story is told right, the media can also help you raise funds for a project or individual story that you’re highlighting. 

KC Pet Project is always partnering with great companies and organizations to build awareness about our organization and our pets. We bartend at major festivals, like Boulevardia and Riverfest, we have custom dog houses as a silent auction at the Home and Remodel Show, we bring puppies to Anthropologie during the Plaza Art Festival, and so many more. We have a few major fundraisers but we are always looking to partner with companies who will help us build our audience and get pets into new homes. A lot of events will also have a substantial financial benefit for your group as well. Post your events on Facebook and on your website so that your followers can see them and invite your friends. 

For us at KC Pet Project, we’ve worked very hard over the past four years to become the group that we are and we know there is still a lot of work to be done.  We are constantly evolving and trying new things. All of these ideas are easy to get started on and best of all, they’re free! In the end, you will see results and you will grow as an organization.

Learn more about KC Pet Project.