This will not come as a shock to you – marketing a non-profit is different than marketing a for-profit company. The ‘marketing’ of a non-profit generally falls under one of two categories – resource development or social norming. That’s different than marketing a company that sells insurance, but there are nuanced similarities. To be successful at marketing both, we must determine the best target audience(s), develop the message that will work on that target audience and figure out the best way to deliver the message to them.
There are a lot of non-profits – over 1000 on Cape Cod alone. That’s a lot of competition for the philanthropic dollar. The caring members of your community want to donate to an organization with credibility. They want to be proud of the organization they support and know their donations are being spent appropriately. Your organization’s brand, marketing messages and support materials are important components of making that happen.
The social norming piece of a non-profit’s mission is a longer-term process, but using strategic marketing will be an integral part of successfully altering public actions and perception. Influencing public opinion and inviting the public to act starts by communicating with them. Well-crafted messaging can awaken the community to the problem of child sexual abuse, shift opinion about shark preservation, influence opinion about off-shore wind farms, or make the community proud of raising the walls of the 100th Habitat for Humanity home in the region. We know. We’ve done it.
Your organization must deliver its message to the right people in a manner that they want to receive it. They are used to being marketed to so your organization should not shy from being one of those marketers. If calling it marketing makes you uncomfortable, just call it communicating. But whatever you want to call it, you need to do it to be successful.