I’m sure your instinct is to say, “no.” After all, non-profits are all about doing good deeds, helping people who cannot help themselves, and not following any type of profit model. “Marketing” is for those slick sales-y companies that promote material items that no one really needs (but we expect you to buy two.)
As the executive director of a non-profit, your job is to make sure your organization is servicing your target population. You focus your attention on providing a great service to as many people as possible. The only thing stopping you from serving the entire population of the world is funding.
If you could get additional funding, you could serve more people. While it is vulgar to talk about money, especially when you live between the haves and the have-nots, funds can only stretch so far. Maybe some type of marketing could increase your funding. But your organization is supported by public funds. A bunch of politicians vote on how much funding your organization gets; you have no control over the decisions they make…or do you?
How do the politicians know your organization is in need of a budget increase and would make good use of the additional funds?
Marketing could increase your name recognition. If everyone is talking about your organization, it may get more attention from the government representatives who dole out the dough. Everyone wants to back a winner, and popularity is a true sign of status.
Is it marketing when your audience is not buying anything?
Marketing and buying are not really related. Marketing is all about the communication, the messaging, you use to build relationships. You can use it to build relationships with your existing customers, or in the case of your non-profit, your clients.
Your clients may not be paying out of pocket for the services you provide, but they could become excellent brand ambassadors, anyway. Your clients know your organization and the quality services you provide better than any outsiders.
But how do you communicate with your clients? What sort of marketing messages do they get from your organization? If you are not marketing to your existing clients, you are missing a huge opportunity to raise your public profile and develop a loyal fan-base.
Raving Fans are for Rockstars
Everyone should have raving fans who become loyal customers, brand ambassadors, lobbyists for your organization. Existing clients are the easiest, and least expensive, to cultivate into raving fans. They already know your organization; they know what you can do and presumably are grateful.
Marketing to your existing client base can improve and strengthen your public image. These people you serve have friends just like them. They may also become your clients, and you’d be helping more people with your non-profit organization. A marketing campaign focused on your existing clients can quickly gain momentum.
How will we help all these people?
When you get more clients, you’re going to need more employees to provide all the services needed. Non-profits don’t usually pay especially well, but people work for them for different reasons. You have the advantage of being able to offer employees the opportunity to do something good for other people. Part of the benefit of working for a non-profit is knowing your work makes a difference to people who need help.
There’s no marketing involved there…or is there? Much like clients, employees can become your greatest brand ambassadors, if you treat them right. Internal marketing, showing your employees how great your organization is, can make recruiting much easier. Using some basic marketing techniques and taking advantage of existing opportunities to reinforce the quality of your brand to your employees can create a strong organization.
Does your non-profit need marketing? It sure does!