Oh, nonprofits. So much goodwill and so much heart. But organizations don’t thrive on goodwill and heart alone. In his report, Marketing & Communications in Nonprofit Organizations, David Williamson outlines nine “morals” that nonprofits should implement. Although each one is interesting, I found the following three the most important:
Moral #1: Don’t just communicate. Market.
What It Means: Williamson differentiates communication and marketing as follows: communicating typically appeals to the head while marketing is more emotional. Nonprofits must find a balance of the two in order to be successful–the push of communication and the pull of marketing.
Who’s Doing It: A great example of this push and pull is a nonprofit called Helping Up Mission, located in my hometown of Baltimore. The organization takes in men who are addicted to drugs, homeless, and hopeless and transforms their lives through a very intensive rehabilitation and education program.
Helping Up Mission marketing is both informative and full of heart. It is factual and emotional. By listening to a radio spot or reading up on the organization, it is clear what the mission is as well as the genuine desire to breed hope backing it…a truly remarkable place.
Moral #2: Your mission should drive your marketing. If you are trying to change individual behaviors or social norms it’s time to invest in social marketing.
What It Means: Nonprofits should be wholly themselves in the way they choose to market their organization. They must stick to their mission and purpose at every point of contact with the world. And they should be marketing themselves if they want to accomplish their missions.
Who’s Doing It: Compassion International, an organization I support personally. The nonprofit provides international child sponsorship. But they don’t just accept donations; instead those who want to get involved actually sponsor a child. I sponsor a little girl in Tanzania named Janeth, who I exchange letters and photos with, send gifts on her birthday, and receive crayon drawings from.
Compassion is about people. So they market helping people. At many church events, concerts, and more, Compassion volunteers set up tables full of sponsorship packets like the one above. They aren’t just informational, they actually contain photos, letters, and personal information about a single child. These packets market their mission perfectly–support one child, change her life. I had no intention of sponsoring a child when I attended a Tenth Avenue North concert a few years ago…but when I saw sweet Janeth’s face and read her story, I signed up as her sponsor. Powerful marketing was the reason.
Moral #3: There is no such thing as the general public. Find the audience that matters most to your mission and focus on them like a laser beam.
What It Means: My internship’s mission is ringing in my head: “Blue Ocean Ideas exists to help organizations tell the truth about who they are, faster” (thank you Blue Ocean Ideas!). No organization can be everything to everyone. Nonprofits must figure out who they are and what they stand for…and then figure out who matters most to them.
Who’s NOT Doing It: Susan G. Komen. I mean really, this organization has pink ribbons on ev.ery.thing. The nonprofit’s lack of focus has watered down its mission. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of breast cancer awareness. But KFC fried chicken buckets or hand guns are not the place for awareness–those surely doesn’t fall into Susan G. Komen’s mission, “To save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures.”
I could not agree more with your post. I thought it was very insightful as well as very inspiring. I, too, agree with that fact that Susan G. Komen has overdone the entire use of the color pink, where it’s values are starting to not be in line with the places they are branding themselves. It is almost as if the message they are sending, which is all about the “cure”, is becoming convoluded by putting pink on KFC buckets of chicken, in which you demonstrated in your post. By doing so, this paints the picture that by eating buckets of KFC chicken, someone with cancer will be cured. It is very disaligned and sends a mixed message. Why not put pink on things that actual matter, like healthy foods and health-centered products instead of food that causes people to be overweight and is definitely bad for you. Just very thought-provoking and interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Blair Menzel says
Thanks for your comment Jess! I can’t believe the KFC chicken bucket either!
Alex Silverman says
I really liked your explanations of each moral you chose. The way you put each one into your one words was easy to understand in the context of non-profit marketing. I liked the fact that you chose organizations that you had a personal connection to, or you knew a lot about for the examples of organizations that were living up to each moral. I especially enjoyed the “Compassion International” example. This organization really seems to have a clear mission behind the organization, and has figured out how to market itself to people in a way that is effective and gets what they are trying to accomplish out to the public. Lastly, I really enjoyed the Susan G. Komen example. You could not have been more spot on how they are over branding themselves which really has their message lost in translation. They need to narrow their focus, which would bring their brand back into perspective.
Blair Menzel says
Thanks for reading, Alex. I love Compassion–they do great work!
Ashley B says
Once again, I am in love with your blog posts. Something about the way you format the content gets me hooked every time! The examples you chose aligned so well with the morals. KFC and breast cancer? I mean that is just about as bad as Pepsi and JDRF! Where is the target audience?! Completely random, and absolutely no correlation between breast cancer survivors/supporters and Kentucky Fried Chicken eaters. Pink washing at its finest. Being a girl, I think breast cancer awareness is super important. But would I donate when it is associated with brands such as KFC? All signs are pointing to no.
On another note, I think that is really awesome how you were at a concert and then due to powerful marketing, you ended up supporting a child. Who would have thought…? It doesn’t appear that the image attached is a picture of Janice. It would have been really cool if you attached her picture or some photos of her crayon drawings! Writing letters back and forth is so much more than donations, and I definitely agree with your thoughts on the second moral!
See you Monday!
Blair Menzel says
Thank you for reading, Ashley. You flatter!
No, the photo of the packet above isn’t of the child I sponsor, Janeth. I’ll have to post sometime with some scans of her beautiful photos and drawings!
I also just as Ashley stated think you do an amazing job with your blogs just getting people to WANT to read your blogs instead of you know it being an assignment! I realled enjoyed the brands you chose to use in your post. I don’t want to be redundant and copy what everyone else has said but I thought the same thing when I looked at the KFC and breast cancer relationship. Again going back to what Holly had mentioned about pink washing this is a great way to tie in what she said.
Again, love your blogs and I wish I could blog as well as you do!
Blair Menzel says
Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate it.
And yes, the pinkwashing is a real problem. Hopefully Susan G. Komen can get their act together and be a bit more selective in their choice of partnerships.
Prof. Mac says
Second time I have heard of Compassion Int’l this month. Tell us more about how their marketing moves behavior. Will remember to ask you to share in class. Nicely organized post, Blair.
Blair Menzel says
Thanks for your comment, Professor Mac! I absolutely adore Compassion…their strategy is powerful!