Marketing

Non-profits are increasingly turning to marketing. “Most non-profit managers agree that marketing has become essential for non-profits that want to compete for dollars in a marketplace culture.”(1) Marketing is much more than the promotion and advertisement of products for sale. Marketing in the non-profit sector is everything that contributes to an organization’s public image, which can range from posting banners and logos or making client services more responsive. “Marketing, at its core, is identifying the people you serve, finding out what they want, and meeting those desires. This means that as people’s wants change over time, your services and the way you provide them should be changing as well.”(2) Marketing is important because when an organization’s public image is developed effectively, it helps to earn the trust and confidence of local leaders and donors.(3)

Effective Marketing

There are many different marketing strategies, which range from posting flyers and creating websites to TV and radio advertisements. Because there is an overwhelming number of organizations with strong social missions, organizations must differentiate themselves through marketing and brand, in order to attract donors.(3) Recently, researchers discovered that marketing is especially effective if it appeals to the human desire to have fun. For example, to encourage environmentally friendly and healthy behaviors in Stockholm, Volkswagen installed a staircase that had been replaced with a musical piano keyboard. During the one-day test, 66 more people chose the stairs over the escalator.(4)

To promote and market more socially responsible activities, marketers have also relied on three motivators: fear, reason, and money.  The fear approach encourages people to change their behaviors in order to avoid some horrible outcome. For example, the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has instilled fear in youth by detailing the tragic consequences of alcohol-related car crashes.  Yet fear has its limitations since people frequently shy away from threatening information. Other marketers appeal to people’s intellectual sides by incorporating statistics, charts and testimonials into their cause. For example, Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth appealed to reason in order to raise awareness about global warming.  Lastly, money has become an increasingly popular motivator of socially responsible behaviors. In a randomized controlled trial, smokers who received financial compensation to give up smoking were more likely to stop than were unpaid smokers. Financial incentives can also encourage eco-friendly activities such as recycling.(5)

Social Media

A survey conducted in 2009 of 200 non-profit executive directors found that there has been extensive experimentation with social media in the non-profit sector. A survey found that 77% of those surveyed believed that social media is worth investing in, and 80% stated that social media is a priority for the future and they plan to incorporate more of it into their organization. Most non-profits (67%) also stated that social media is changing how they communicate with broad external audiences. In addition, the non-profits surveyed expressed that social media is effective for building awareness about their organization, and it helps to keep their audiences more engaged.(6)

Social media can be a very powerful tool in marketing since it tends to be less expensive than traditional marketing methods. Social media tools are important because they offer effective ways to engage with the 40 and under crowd and can create hype about a charity or organization in unexpected places. Though social media can be very effective at engaging younger crowds, and raising awareness about an organization, the trade-off is that it is not easy to control.(7) In addition, it is important to realize that social media makes it easier for supporters to organize independently of the non-profit, thereby underscoring how critical it is for non-profits to demonstrate their value(8) and to manage their brand. For example, non-profits can require training or written agreements with those who are fundraising for the organization. Without these types of formally-established links with its supporters, it can become impossible for organizations to know who is using its name to fundraise, and it also becomes possible for the "supporters" to personally keep funds that were raised in the name of the organization. It is therefore important for organizations to carefully track who is using its brand for fundraising purposes.

Internet Marketing

Online marketing is a great advertising investment, especially by optimizing websites for internet search engines. Google, for example, has a free advertising program for U.S. based non-profits called Google Grants..(9)

Cause Marketing

Cause marketing is the idea that consumer brands can serve as outlets and catalysts for broad public engagement and support for a cause or organization.(10) Cause marketing grew dramatically from a nearly zero dollar industry in 1983 to an estimated $1.3 billion in 2006.(11) “Cause marketing adroitly serves two masters, earning profits for corporations while raising funds for charities.”(12) A good example of cause marketing is the LiveStrong Campaign, promoted by Lance Armstrong, which has raised over $70 million for cancer research.(13)  Another well known example of cause marketing is the Product Red Campaign, which the lead singer of U2 has promoted. When consumers purchase select Red-branded items from companies such as the Gap, Apple or Starbucks, part of their purchase supports non-profits, such as the Global Fund to Fight Aids.(14)

Cause marketing is not going to find the cure for cancer, or solve the world’s problems by selling t-shirts or armbands, but it has been found to be effective at bringing social and environmental values to the market place.(15) Moreover, though cause marketing allows charities to raise much-needed funds and helps corporations to raise funds and distinguish themselves, not all of the consequences of combining consumption and philanthropy are good. The main problem is that consumption philanthropy and cause marketing individualize solutions to collective problems and may distract attention from other causes. They also “devalue the moral core of philanthropy by making virtuous action easy and thoughtless.” Cause marketing is a good short-term fix for raising funds for both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, but it also may obscure the way that markets produce some of the problems that philanthropy attempts to fix.(16)

Footnotes

(1) Akchin, D. “Non-profit Marketing: Just How Far Has It Come?” Accessed on 29 September 2010. <http://www.snpo.org/verizon/V190133.pdf>

(2) Brinckerhoff, P. “The Non-profit Marketing Disability- And How to Overcome It.” Accessed on 29 September 2010. <http://www.snpo.org/verizon/V150318.pdf>

(3) “NGO Marketing Part 1: Developing a Communication Plan.” Accessed on 24 September 2010.

(4) Aaker, J. “The Psychology of Giving.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. Accessed on 28 September 2010.

(5) Dalton, A. “Fun for a Change Volkswagen plays with virtue.” Stanford Innovation Social Review. Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/what_works_fun_for_a_change/>

(6) Dalton, A. “Fun for a Change Volkswagen plays with virtue.” Stanford Innovation Social Review. Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/what_works_fun_for_a_change/>

(7) Shandwick, W. “Social Media in the Non-profit Sector.” KRC Research. Accessed on 30 September 2010. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/22676961/Social-Media-in-the-Non-profit-Sector-A-survey-of-non-profit-communications-executives>

(8) Lamb, P. “Marketing for Community-Based Social Enterprise.”

(9) Shandwick, W. “Social Media in the Non-profit Sector.” KRC Research. Accessed on 30 September 2010. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/22676961/Social-Media-in-the-Non-profit-Sector-A-survey-of-non-profit-communications-executives>

(10) Adelberg, D. “Lessons From the ‘Front Lines’: One Engo’s Foray Into the Brave New World of Social Media.” Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.thephilanthropist.ca/index.php/phil/article/view/823/698>

(11) Chong, R. “Cause-Related Marketing: Just Plain Ol’ Marketing?” Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachael-chong/cause-related-marketing-j_b_409633.html>

(12) Eikenberry, A. “The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing.” Stanford Social Innovation. Accessed on 28 September 2010.

(13) Ibid.

(14) Chong, R. “Cause-Related Marketing: Just Plain Ol’ Marketing?” Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachael-chong/cause-related-marketing-j_b_409633.html>

(15) Eikenberry, A. “The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing.” Stanford Social Innovation. Accessed on 28 September 2010.

(16) Chong, R. “Cause-Related Marketing: Just Plain Ol’ Marketing?” Accessed on 28 September 2010. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rachael-chong/cause-related-marketing-j_b_409633.html>

(17) Eikenberry, A. “The Hidden Costs of Cause Marketing.” Stanford Social Innovation. Accessed on 28 September 2010.