Most people in advertising complain that their budget is too small. Even though DoSomething.org is the largest not-for-profit for young people and social change, we have a marketing budget of $0. (No, that was not a typo.) As a result, we’ve come up with strategies that can help any organization make the most of their (non)budget to reach their audiences.
It’s partially because we’re a not-for-profit organization and money is hard to find, but it’s also a philosophical choice. No money forces you to be creative and learn to best utilize your strengths, resources, and networks. Want to encourage out-of-the box thinking? Don’t spend money on the box.
Here are three things that DoSomething.org does to reach young people, form strong partnerships, and turn members into fangirls.
1. Tap into tribes
If we had to pick working with Brad Pitt or teen Vine star turned recording artist Shawn Mendes as the celebrity spokesperson for a DoSomething.org campaign, we would hands down pick Shawn Mendes. (And we did. Our partnership with him was a huge success.) Don’t get us wrong, Brad is a very charitable (and attractive) guy, but Shawn Mendes has a tribe of young people, the #MendesArmy, with 3.6 million Vine followers and 2.5 million Twitter followers. Each of these people have opted in to getting a notification every time he sends a tweet or video, and he feels incredibly accessible to the teens who follow him. If he expresses that a cause is important to him, then his fans will act.
2. Grow up with them
Disney knows how to spot talent when they’re young. So many of today’s top pop stars including Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez all got their start on the Disney Channel. The idea of spotting potential, tapping into it, and growing together is not exclusive to celebrities. Learning how to spot a new outlet on the brink of growth has a similar payoff. One great example of this is Her Campus, a website for—and written by—college women around the country. DoSomething.org has worked with them since their infancy because we liked their content, their mission, and their team. We shared similar goals and target demographics. Because we bought in early, we’ve had a front-row seat to their community growth. Today, with 2.8 million monthly unique visitors, Her Campus is the number-one online and offline community for college women in the country. Her Campus works with top brands and donates homepage takeovers, banner ads, and content on their site to our organization through marketing and media partnerships. We’ve been able to grow up with Her Campus and they’ve consistently served as one of our best partnerships.
3. Surprise and delight
In order to have loyal members, customers, or donors, you need to let them know that you appreciate them. Everyone expects a thank-you email after a donation or an annual holiday card, but surprising your members can turn them into evangelists for your brand. Taylor Swift is the best when it comes to surprising her fans. This Christmas, Swift surprised a few of her fans by buying them personalized presents with handwritten notes. These fans made videos, shared on social media, and talked about how excited they were to buy tickets to see Taylor on tour. Dosomething.org loves surprises. For each one of DoSomething.org’s staff pick campaigns, we surprise one of our members who participated with a scholarship. Recently, DoSomething.org teamed up with Break.com to capture the reaction of one of our members who wouldn’t have been able to go back to school without the scholarship. Watch the video here or below.
For more ways on how DoSomething.org reaches young people on a $0 marketing budget and other DoSomething.org secrets, read The XYZ Factor: The DoSomething.org Guide to Creating a Culture of Impact.