What is Nonprofit Marketing

Nonprofit marketing is activities and strategies that spread the message of the organization, as well as to solicit donations and call for volunteers. Nonprofit marketing involves the creation of logos, slogans, and copy, as well as the development of a media campaign to expose the organization to an outside audience. The goal of nonprofit marketing is to promote the organization's ideals and causes to get the attention of potential volunteers and donors.

Breaking Down Nonprofit Marketing

Not all nonprofit marketing is the same; how a nonprofit markets itself and its cause can vary with each cause. There are some similarities in how nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies approach marketing, but the differences are significant. For one, nonprofit marketing has a handicap in that its ideas and causes can be harder to market and sell than products and services. On the upside, nonprofits — by their nature — have something that business to consumer or business to business marketers lack: a well-defined mission.

Nonprofits also have smaller marketing budgets than for-profit businesses, and therefore tend to receive less social media attention. Such budget constraints can make content marketing far more difficult, even though having a well-defined mission may make compelling storytelling far easier to accomplish. For example, causes that nonprofits frequently champion, like social issues, the environment, and healthcare, are far more conducive to compelling storytelling than most products or services.

Nonprofit Marketing Types

Nonprofit marketing can take many forms. For example, donors may be asked to add a donation to their purchase at a point of sale (point-of-sale campaign). Another strategy encourages behavioral change or consumer action or drives awareness (message-focused campaign). In transactional campaigns, consumer action (a purchase or social media post) is spurred by a corporate donation. Similarly, non-transactional campaigns require no consumer action.

Nonprofit Marketing Issues

Nonprofits marketers also have diverse demographics to content with. Older, wealthier donors to charitable causes need to be communicated with and appealed to in ways that are entirely different from how Millennials prefer to be communicated with. For example, older donors (Baby Boomers or Gen X) may still prefer print solicitations via direct mail, while younger donors might prefer to receive a prompt for them to donate via text or app. Print may be on the way out but nonprofit marketers still cannot afford to give it up because it still works with some donors. Similarly, nonprofit marketers cannot afford to ignore the mobile marketing space, which many younger donors expect.

Social media is now dominating marketing, making it more of a pay-to-play game. This means nonprofit marketers, with their more limited budgets, will always be at a disadvantage. Accordingly, the best way may be making a nonprofit's social media effort the responsibility of each employee as part of a concerted, grassroots social media marketing effort.