How do you get a robust marketing campaign without spending money? It’s a question on the mind of anyone who runs a nonprofit. You have no budget for advertising, and it makes little sense to go the print route, developing brochures and flyers that will only end up in recycling.

This is a difficult time to raise money. Despite the light at the end of the recessionary tunnel, we are still in the process of getting to that brighter era. The pie has gotten smaller, but there are more takers than ever. With the increase in crowdfunding, nonprofits are now competing with individuals and small groups who are doing their own grassroots fundraising campaigns.

That’s why it’s time to put a new spin on your marketing efforts. The answer is to apply for-profit tactics to your marketing campaign. Content marketing is a perfect opportunity for nonprofits. Your narrative becomes your most effective fundraising tool, and it also functions beautifully as an SEO mechanism. Your donor is really the same as a for-profit customer, and when you are raising money, you are actually doing the same job as a sales team.

What’s the most effective way for a nonprofit to position itself to attract stakeholders? Just as a salesperson does, you should appeal on an emotional level with compelling and relevant content. When you tell a specific success story, you are far more likely to get to the heart of a future donor.

Another key to finding someone to join your cause is to align their passion with your mission. Build a relationship. If your organization’s goal is literacy, populate your site with content that tells very specific stories of people who have learned to read. Paint the picture. Use names, places and other details that bring the narrative to life. Cheryl from Hunting Park who can now read the bible when she goes to church on Sunday is a much more vibrant and compelling image than simply stating that you have taught a hundred people to read.

When that person who is deeply invested in literacy causes comes looking, there you are.The idea is to frame the content conversation as an answer to the question your potential donors are asking. They are already out there looking for you. Too often (and understandably), nonprofits get so caught up in the work they are doing that they forget to frame their story in a way that speaks to funders.

An effective content marketing campaign is a great way to create word of mouth. Interested parties will find your content and share it on social sites.

The way people decide to spend money has changed dramatically. No one wants to be sold or bullied into making a purchase (read donation). Consumers do their research and decide how they are going to spend their money based on data and trust. Be there with a relevant story when they type their search term into Google. As a trusted supplier of information, your donors will feel like they are doing the right thing with their vote of support.

Finally, have a great organizational structure to back up your claims. To foster an ongoing connection and encourage recommendations, you need to have great management and be highly responsive. Never put up a challenge. Make communication as easy as possible. Remember, the donor is always right.