Before you dismiss this idea because you have nothing newsworthy to release, stop and think about what YOU read in the newspaper...
Often when I mention the words "press release" to my copywriting clients, they automatically think they have nothing newsworthy to say. But they do. We all do, unless we're sitting still all day, staring at the wall. But, since that's pretty strange behavior, it might even be newsworthy.
Think for a moment about the stories and articles you read when you pick up a newspaper. They aren't all "breaking news." Some of them are stories about events, but some of them are advice. Your press release could be news about the work your non-profit carries out, it could be a success story about someone you helped, or a sad story about how you were unable to help because of some bureaucratic roadblock. And... it could be some kind of advice that your members are uniquely qualified to give.
If you're an animal rescue, write a story about pet care. If you work for literacy give tips on how individuals can help family members learn. If you help the environment, write about the difference it makes when you plant a tree or a garden. And then, of course, let readers know that you appreciate donations and/or volunteers.
If your non-profit serves only your local area, you can submit your press release to the local newspapers, and to the radio and TV stations. Be sure to check for web based news sites, as well. If you serve a greater area, you can either do the research on line and mail your releases, or use an on line service. Some charge nothing, and others have fees based on the distribution you want.
All of them are less expensive than the same space as a paid advertisement, and they carry a huge benefit - which is that people read more articles than ads.
Be sure to submit your release in the proper format - if you simply write a letter it will go directly to the "round file." And, be sure to proofread. No editor is going to take time to correct your typos!