Marketing For Non-Profits

Marketing For Non-Profits

For-profit businesses put great effort and expense into marketing so they can generate the funds needed to operate and succeed.  They procure or manufacture their products - or the equipment to deliver their services - pay their employees, their taxes, and their overhead.  Then, if there’s anything left over, they pay their owners or shareholders.  Yet mention marketing to some Non-Profit leaders, and they turn up their noses as if a bad smell had just entered the premises.  Why is that?  Marketing for non-profits is as much a necessity as for other organizations, if not more.

I have a theory.


The Devil Is In The Terminology

I’ve worked with several Non-Profits Organizations (NPOs) over my 30-year career as a copywriter and consultant. 

In most of these relationships, the NPO leaders who hired me were anxious to increase their donor base through aggressive marketing campaigns.  Just don’t call it marketing.  I noted a parallel glossary had taken over the conversation.  Here’s what I figured out.

  • Community Outreach was the most popular “cover” term for marketing.
  • Salespersons were most often referred to as Development Officers.
  • Their product was their mission or their cause

So, once I could talk the talk, I could more easily help them walk the walk.

Marketing For Non-Profits Is Alive and Well But Hidden From View

The toughest nut to crack, however, was the idea of communicating benefits to their contributors. 

In business marketing, the benefits received by the buyers are geared to making their lives better because they purchased the product or service.  Benefits are a core part of a company’s Value Proposition…it simply wasn’t so with many NPOs.  They assumed (and we all know what that begets) that the donors were as anxious to support their cause/mission as were they.

Unfortunately, the leaders often ignored the elephant in the room.  That is, the fact their donors and prospects were approached by multiple, equally passionate, non-profits looking for donations.

"Do Good" Marketing Has Been Around For A Century

David Ogilvy, a world-renowned Copywriter, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, and Original Madman, knew a thing or two about advertising for NPOs.  And when David talked, people listened.

To Compete, NPOs Needed To Embrace Do Good Marketing For Non-Profits

And they did.

But the names were changed to protect the sensitive.  In doing that, we were able to bring out the actual donor benefits and satisfactions.

  • A feeling of self-worth for doing good.
  • Pride in accomplishment when the mission is successful.
  • The benefit of being in a community working on and conquering its problems by citizens acting together.
  • As the mission benefits, so does the donor for playing a part. Altruism is not dead…it’s a motivational benefit.

If you are active in a non-profit 501(c) (3) or other such organization, talk to the leaders and impress upon them the importance of Community Outreach (but please don’t say “Marketing For Non-Profits”).

Dig A Little Deeper (But Not In Your Pocket)

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Posted in Copywriting, Marketing, Marketing Message, Marketing Strategy, Non-Profit Marketing, Value Proposition and tagged , , , , .