Skip to main content

Why Promotional Items are Your Nonprofit’s Secret Weapon

A common misconception about nonprofit organizations is that they aren’t in the business of making profits. However, an effective nonprofit needs to be sustainable, which requires both making and investing money. Like all other enterprises, nonprofits, or not-for-profit businesses use their profits to advance their programs.


The difference with nonprofit organizations is that the earnings benefit the organization and their charitable cause verses the owners or shareholders. In fact, the main objective of a nonprofit marketer is to raise more money for the mission! So it makes sense for nonprofits to use the same proven marketing tools as mainstream businesses, including investing in promotional items to get their name out there.


Let’s break it down. Here are three simple reasons to use promotional products for your nonprofit:


1) Build Brand Awareness

This is of course the most obvious because it’s the most visible. Having your brand imprinted on promotional products is a simple and inexpensive way to keep your name and reputation in front of your target audience. When a donor, employee or volunteer wears a T-shirt or carries a tote bag, you’ve effortlessly made numerous visual impressions and transmitted a message of support for your cause to hundreds of people.


Just like a paid-for-billboard that advertises your mission, the more visibility your brand and logo receive in the community where your organization operates, the more validity you gain because people now begin to recognize who you are and what you do. Trust is built and that alone increases your odds of people responding to “an ask” or an event invitation.


Consider these places for distributing your promotional products and elevating your brand awareness:

Advocacy and fundraising events that you host

Community festivals, fairs, symposiums, trade shows

As giveaways or prizes in contests


As a marketer for you organization, you already know your audience. A promotional marketing expert can help you choose the right promotional item that will not be thrown away or misused.


2) Demonstrate Appreciation and Give Recognition

We as humans have one thing in common – we are naturally generous. We love helping and supporting those in need. Sometimes, it’s impossible to find the words to express appreciation to those who support your cause and yet, nonprofits can never say “thank you” enough to those who contribute to their success.


Promotional items are an excellent way of showing appreciation. They are also a great way of keeping your prized donors, volunteers, corporate partners and employees committed to your mission.


A quality-made, attractive plaque or award is a valuable selection for business partners because they can proudly display them in their offices.



With appreciation gifts given to donors and volunteers, be sure they receive the appreciation after they’ve made their gift to you and not before.


TIP: Current research suggests using promo products as an up-front incentive may actually be counterproductive to donor and volunteer retention.


In the world of promotional products, price often indicates the quality and appeal of an item. For major gifts donors, special volunteers, and other worthy recipients, there are many quality products in a range of prices. These people will feel your appreciation when they receive branded items that are useful and represent the brand well. Once again, having an stellar promotional company that you trust can mean the difference between success and failure of your “thank you”. For major gifts donors, special volunteers, and other worthy recipients, there are many quality products in a range of prices. Use branded items that are useful, represent your brand well, and are priced to suit the specific group.


Tip: Include a thank you note with the gift reminding the recipients that whenever they wear or use the appreciation gift, they are continuing to help your organization’s cause. Other ways of showing appreciation include giving promotional products on holidays, or at milestones. The products that leave the most positive impression and that recipients keep longer are: outerwear, shirts, recognition items (awards, plaques), caps/headwear, flash drives, health and safety products, desk/office accessories, and bags.


3) Generate Additional Revenue Streams

Many nonprofit organizations sell their branded goods online and at events as a means of generating additional revenue. While continuing to build brand awareness, you are giving your audience an easy way to help your cause without them having to make a major commitment. If online sales, inventory management and fulfillment are beyond the scope of what your organization can handle, there are plenty of companies out there that can help. Considering promotional products deliver the same or a better ROI than other forms of media, it may be worth considering an online store to boost your fundraising efforts.


Tip: The products that leave the most positive impression and that recipients keep the longest are: outerwear, t-shirts, drinkware, recognition items (awards, plaques), caps/hats, flash drives, health and safety products, desk/office accessories, and tote bags.


With so many products to choose from, sound advice from an expert like Lattitude Marketing will ensure that your items are well made and will impress your audience. They should match the quality of your brand and speak the level of appreciation you are trying to express. When done right, promotional items can help your organization accomplish many of its goals whether related to your external audience or your internal people.