Building a Strong Foundation: Marketing for Nonprofits

By claire |

non_profitOne of the biggest marketing myths is that marketing for nonprofits is a whole different ballgame than marketing for businesses.  In fact, marketing for nonprofits and for companies are really more similar than most people would think.  The major difference is that in for-profit marketing you are selling a product or service, whereas in nonprofit marketing you’re selling something a bit more intangible–a cause.

Most nonprofits are affiliated with a cause or a charity, from raising awareness about eduction to the environment, every nonprofit is a champion for something.  And it is that something what we as marketing experts are selling.  So how do you go about selling an idea? How do we sell consumers something that they can’t see?

The answer is the same way we would sell a tangible object.  Here are a few for-profit marketing strategies that we have translated to fit the needs of the nonprofit sector.

1. Emphasize Value Proposition

Every business must have a value proposition, or a statement of what makes your business better, brighter and faster than that of your competition; basically answering the question, “why choose us?” Nonprofits are not exempt from creating a solid value proposition.  Look at your mission statement and ask yourself, “out of the hundreds of other nonprofits that service the same cause, what makes this one different?” Once you answer that, you have a solid foundation from which to build your marketing plan.

2. Plan Events

In the nonprofit sector in particular, hosting fundraising events is a great way to earn revenue and get the word out about your cause or foundation. Make sure the event is at a high-profile location (usually upscale lounges and clubs will allow you to host an event during the evening, before they get busy). Invite everyone in your network and include raffles, (donated) prizes and drink specials at your event to show your guests a good time. Using the event as a hook, you will have be the perfect chance to tell your already-captive audience about your past success and future goals.

3. Take pictures!

A picture is worth a thousand words. So tell your organization’s story through visual media including photos, videos and slideshows.  Showcase the good work your nonprofit is doing through the newest technology.

4. Get on the social media train

Utilizing social media to spread the word about your cause is a great way to increase cause awareness and interact with your community. Get in touch with potential donors or even other nonprofits who help the same cause but in different locations.  Share insight and advice with other nonprofits, chances are they are dealing with the same challenges as you are. (If they aren’t, then they already have or eventually will!) Just like in the for-profit sector, establishing relationships with key players in your field is crucial and there’s no better way to do this than social media.


Need more ideas or resources?Check out the following sites to wrap your head around marketing for nonprofits.

Eight Basic Steps to Marketing your Nonprofit Organization

Marketing & Communications Resources for Nonprofits

The Foundation Center

Nonprofit Marketing Guide


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