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3 marketing tools that offer freebies for charities

Updated: Mar 26

I could not believe it when I discovered that the tools I’d been using for years working for charities should have been FREE or heavily discounted! I just kept wondering "why didn't anyone tell me about it?!". It got me thinking that maybe most people were like me and didn’t know!


So here it is, I'm going to tell you about it! I’ve also added a section telling you how to get the freebie/discount and if there’s a point in going through the trouble of claiming it.


Canva


What is it?

Canva is an online design software. It’s NOT for designers and is very easy for most people to use. It’s intuitive and best of all, it has tons of beautiful templates. This is great for creating visual content for social media. You can also use it to create flyers, presentations, postcards and more. The options are almost endless!


What’s the freebie?

A free pro account.


How to get it?

You’ll need to complete an online form. It should only take you about 10minutes. The eligibility criteria are at the top of the form. The form will ask you to attach “tax documentation or proof of NFP status”. When I applied for the discount for Edinburgh Printmakers, I simply went onto the OSCR website, typed Edinbrgh Printmakers and downloaded the page that had all the info (click on “Print this Page” and choose PDF). And that did the trick.


How long does it take?

It took around three weeks, including one chaser email to their customer service team.


Is there a point?

This is a very valid question considering there’s a free version of Canva that anyone can use. You might already be using it. In my opinion, using the Pro version has ONE major advantage. You can resize anything you’ve made. This means that if you’ve created a visual for Instagram, you can click on a button and change the size of it - Very useful if you want to use a similar visual for Twitter for example, which works better with a rectangle format. I use it all the time and it’s a dream.


Hootsuite


What is it?

Hootsuite is an online software to manage your social media. It has tons of features but the main ones allow you to schedule your posts and get analytics reports in a few minutes.


What’s the freebie?

50% off their Professional plan (£150/year after discount) or 50% off their Team plan (£594/year after discount)


How to get it?

You complete a very short form. It will take you 2minutes. You don’t even need to enter your registration number or any other proof that you’re a charity.


How long does it take?

Between two to three weeks, with a nudge to the customer service team (I’m not the patient type).


Is there a point?

I’ve not tried the Team Plan but I can imagine it’s only useful if you have a BIG team. I’ve worked in teams of two before, and we just used the same log-ins on a Professional Plan.

The professional Plan has one main advantage: the analytics. This is particularly relevant if you have quarterly reports to create for your board or if you’re applying for funding. The analytics function will allow you to create really easy reports, in minutes.

It also lets you schedule more than 30 posts at one time. But to be honest, I’ve never had to schedule more than 30 posts in one go!


Google Ads


What is it?

It's Google's advertising system. It controls which ads you see when you do a Google search.


What’s the freebie?

Free $10,000 USD of in-kind Google Ads advertising each month!


How to get it?

This one is by far the hardest one to apply for. There are lots of hoops to jump through. Here’s an overview:

1- Apply to Google for Nonprofits

2- Apply for the Ad Grants pre-qualification process

3-  Abide to their program policies.

The program policies is where things get a little complicated. First, you need to abide at ALL times - If you fall off the wagon for a day or two, your account will be suspended. You can fix the issue and get it reactivated but it’s a little time consuming. It includes rules like “no single keyword permitted”, “no overly generic keywords” and “maintain a 5% click through rate per month”.


How long does it take?

The first two steps shouldn’t be too long (between 2-14 business days according to Google). The third step is a lot more time consuming as if you’re a newbie to Google Ads, I would say it’ll take you upward of 4hours.


Is there a point?

I went through the whole process and spent a lot of time learning about Google Ads to make sure the account abided by all the program policies. I was super excited to see great results. But I have to be honest with you. Nothing happened. The ads I set up performed badly and I could not tell why. I probably spent 10 hours on the whole process (I had to get some online training to understand how Google Ads work) and it was useless. From this experience, I would say that it’s probably best to leave it to the pros. The great thing with paying someone to do this is that return on investment will  be quite clear as Google Ads is full of useful metrics. You could go with a freelancer or an agency. If you’ve got a digital marketing guru in house, it might be worth training them on this or hiring someone who already has the skills.


Recap


To recap, go for Canva Pro without a doubt, consider the Hootsuite Professional Plan if you have a strong need for analytics, try the Google Ads Grants if you have a LOT of time and patience or you’re happy to pay someone to do it for you.


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