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.”