Time and time again as we are working with our nonprofit clients we hear a common challenge:

We don’t have the budget to do that.

limited budgetWhether it’s investing in a new website, buying a better camera, spending money on a fancy social media metrics dashboard, or even having a full-time social media employee, the refrain is all the same – small nonprofits are strapped for cash and have a limited budget.


We get it, we really do. At CSL, the majority of us have worked at nonprofits or startups so we understand competing priorities when it comes to your limited funds, time, and resources. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t always ways to make the most of what you’ve got.

We’ve seen some organizations MacGyver their way around their financial limitations and turn challenges into opportunities to run extremely successful marketing and fundraising campaigns that are on par with bigger nonprofits with huge budgets.


Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your limited budget:


Ask your supporters for help

Your email list, donors, and social media followers aren’t just there to receive your communications and make financial gifts. They are also writers, photographers, volunteers, coders, teachers, and activists. Need a better cache of photos for storytelling? Looking for a couple of people to help manage a local event? Put out a call to your community and see how they can support you in nontraditional ways.


Request the nonprofit rate

When talking to a website designer, swag vendor, or event site host, be clear that you’re a nonprofit and ask about a discount. If you want to attend a conference, ask the planners for a nonprofit rate or if they can provide meals or waive a fee for presenters or in-kind sponsors. You’ll find that most companies will work with you to get your business.


Pitch to the pro bono community

There are dozens of organizations whose sole purpose is to provide services to nonprofits for free, or pro bono.

Here are some resources:

  1. Catchafire: Where individuals can help you write business plan, develop a new logo, etc.
  2. Taproot Foundation: Providing marketing, design, planning, and technology resources to many organizations through connecting them with skilled volunteers
  3. A Billion + Change: Connecting nonprofits with companies to assist with a variety of needed services
  4. The National Council of Nonprofits: Gives support on everything from legal services and accounting, to grant writing and social media


Make the most of free trials

If you were ever a coupon cutter or if you are the type of person to head straight to the sale rack in a store, you can apply those skills here. Tons of SaaS providers and other online sites offer free trials or heavily discounted deals on everything from stock photography and analytics dashboards, to business cards and video tutorials. Take the opportunity to get what you need in the moment, and try to cultivate a relationship with a vendor for further discounts with continued business.


Rely on your partners

A good partner does more than send tweets about your campaign or provide a spokesperson for media interviews. If you know your partner has more resources to produce great graphics, has a great space for events, or is a member of a service or organization that you need, consider asking them for help. Just be sure to be smart about your requests and not to abuse the relationship — and be ready to offer something in return.