Nonprofit marketing can be challenging, but it’s an essential part of your growth and prosperity. Raising awareness for your cause and the funds needed to fight that cause rely on the power of marketing.

As a nonprofit founder myself, I can guess what your marketing playbook might look like:

  • Content using compelling mission stories
  • Email marketing, tapping into your donor database
  • Social media engagement
  • Mobile giving strategies
  • Corporate sponsor relations
  • Public and media relations
  • Sponsored or run of board ad spaces
  • Fundraising events (that often leave you with little time for the above bullets)

Now, what if I told you that a well-planned brand activation could help you achieve all of those items at once?

An experiential marketing strategy can be woven into your plan to meet key objectives. It also deepens your relationships with donors, followers, sponsors, media and the larger community.

Like nonprofit marketing, experiential marketing is emotion-based. It allows a brand to connect more personally with its audience. Experiences evoke powerful emotions and stir an audience to action.

Social media and content marketing teams directly benefit from brand experiences. They can generate a year’s worth of content from one activation! Brand experiences can be promoted through email – or shared afterward to your donor list.

And let’s not forget the media draw and publicity earned from truly unique brand experiences. Get the press excited with an exclusive sneak peek at your activation the night before the public opening.

Same applies for corporate sponsors. Brand experiences are a great way to say thanks! Include your sponsors in creative ways. This touts their support and amplifies their own cause marketing efforts.

So, as you can see, one activation can supply your nonprofit marketing team with a lot of ammunition.

You’ve undoubtedly been perfecting the art of experience at your fundraising galas, auctions and walks. Think about the types of interactive stations you have already brought to life. How could you transform them into a stunt to generate new exposure or acquire new supporters?

Experience marketing doesn’t have to be a one-off gesture. Think about the brand experience you want to give your audience at each touch point. This includes fundraising events, content consumption and marketing interceptions. With the right strategy in place, people will experience your brand cohesively and with more meaning at every point of engagement.


These charities have executed experiential marketing campaigns worth blogging about! Check them out.


We turned an RV into a school bus and drove across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, to share No Kid Hungry’s story. The #Hangry tour accomplished many things for the brand:

  • Celebrated restaurant partners and drove foot traffic through their biggest supporters’ doors
  • Engaged one-on-one with event attendees, raising awareness on the street level
  • Generated 270+ participant #hangry videos, which were posted to a microsite and shared online socially
  • Earned 91M messages on social media to amplify the brand’s reach
  • Picked up 10 national media placements and 15 major market media hits

The mobile tour gave their message – we’re angry that 1 in 6 kids in America are hungry – amplification. Plus, the compelling story was delivered in a more fruitful way. One in which brought this organization miles closer to ending childhood hunger.


Misereor, another nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger, created The Social Swipe campaign. This campaign turned giving into an experience in and of itself.

Interactive digital posters in airports and malls featured gripping visuals to tell a story. These kiosks grabbed attention, raised awareness and enabled on-the-spot donations. With the swipe of your card, you virtually cut a digital loaf of bread or set someone free. And you simultaneously made a small donation. The correlation between giving and making a difference was powerful. Later, your bank statement would show a thank you note from the charity with an invitation to turn your payment into a monthly donation.

From beginning to end, the experience involved the donors in a memorable way.


#MODImagines Nonprofit Marketing Experiential Activation

To refresh its 80-year-old brand, March of Dimes created an award-winning campaign called ‘Imagine a World.’ To some, the brand name was familiar but what the organization actually does wasn’t. This campaign reinforced its message: March of Dimes ensures every baby has a healthy start.

According to Event Marketer, the theme represented this concept: “Imagine a world where every baby deserves a chance to grow up and change the world.”

The three-day activation in Los Angeles took place during November, which is Prematurity Awareness Month. The first night was an exclusive VIP event for media, influencers and donors. Whereas the following two days, the brand experience was open to the public.

The event’s design, housed under a dome, expressed the whimsy, imagination and innocence of childhood. Oversized flowers and butterflies, selfie stations with neon signs and an Anne Geddes gallery provided a lot of organic Instagram motivation. Attendees were encouraged to share videos and photos, amplifying the event’s reach.

The family-friendly activities included games, puzzles, face painting and crafts. The event was very interactive – and fun for all ages! Some of the games were customized to teach about the March of Dimes’ mission and their recent work. Each of the 2,500 people who experienced the event soon understood the March of Dimes brand better.

In addition to the physical experience, the campaign included digital out-of-home media, Facebook Live and social media advertising.


We think this one is just too tail-waggin’ cute!

Battersea Dogs Home found a way to bring physical and digital together in a creatively cute way. A brand ambassador stationed in a strategic location distributed tech-embedded cards to shoppers outside a mall. The chip inside the pamphlet triggered creative on large digital screens. From one screen to the next, a shelter dog ‘followed’ the person holding the card. It was as if the digital dog wanted to follow them home.

Talk about tugging on the heart strings!

While this campaign used outdoor advertising methods, the multi-media integration created an authentic – yet simple – experience for people in a memorable way.


Canada. It ranks no. 2, only behind Switzerland, as the best country in the world.

Perhaps that is why travelers who found themselves on the Poverty Tour bus were so surprised to learn that 1 in 10 Canadians struggle to pay for basic necessities. In guerrilla marketing fashion, the Poverty Tour engaged bus riders in an unsuspecting way. Real tourists visiting Toronto learned shocking statistics about the beautiful neighborhoods they visited.

The goals of this nonprofit marketing campaign were to educate people that poverty isn’t always easy to see, as well as to engage with younger potential donors.

The supporting ads within the media mix resembled traditional tourism ads for Canada. The campaign also included a virtual reality execution where users could view Canadian cities footnoted with poverty statistics.

The Salvation Army was able to open eyes – and hearts – to a real problem.

If you would like to talk about adding experiential strategy to your nonprofit marketing plan, say hello.