What is Nonprofit Marketing?

K. Testa

Nonprofit marketing is a strategy used by many nonprofit organizations to meet their constituents’ needs. Nonprofits usually try to implement programs to carry out their missions and ensure their own long-term financial stability. A nonprofit marketing plan is generally part of an organization’s overall strategic plan. It typically requires an analysis of factors, such as the organization’s target markets, programs, and competitors. In order to sustain itself, a nonprofit organization might have to make fundraising a high priority. Having an effective marketing plan can often lead to more successful fundraising campaigns.

Websites are popular commercial ventures of nonprofit organizations because they cost little to implement or maintain.
Websites are popular commercial ventures of nonprofit organizations because they cost little to implement or maintain.

Generally speaking, marketing is the practice of developing a plan to meet the needs of a company’s customers or clients. The development of a marketing plan usually takes place after the company identifies customer needs and analyzes its ability to fulfill them. Many experts view nonprofit marketing as essential to nonprofit organizations, mainly because of the competition among numerous organizations for scarce resources. Marketing consultants who work with nonprofits often apply some of the same marketing concepts as those used with for-profit businesses. A few examples of these concepts include market analysis, creating a mission statement, developing public relations materials, and forming strategic partnerships.

Nonprofits can use social media to boost awareness about a cause.
Nonprofits can use social media to boost awareness about a cause.

A common element of strategic marketing for nonprofit organizations is an analysis of their target markets, or constituents. Examples of constituents could include clients and any other beneficiaries of the organization’s services. Donors, volunteers, staff members, and the community at large often can be considered constituents as well. Identifying constituents and analyzing their needs can then help the organization articulate how its programs can effectively meet those needs and why it deserves charitable donations.

A clear organizational mission statement could be considered another component of a successful nonprofit marketing plan. Nonprofit organizations often use written mission statements to define their goals and outline steps to achieve those goals. In addition, an organization may use its mission statement to communicate to its constituency how it distinguishes itself from other organizations in the same field.

Many nonprofit marketing experts feel that branding is also important. Branding typically refers to having a logo or a recognizable name, increasing the organization’s visibility in the community. Once a nonprofit organization has established its brand, it might then produce public relations materials such as brochures and newsletters. Nonprofit marketing can involve creating an online presence as well. An example of this could be designing a website and participating in social media marketing.

Finally, many nonprofit organizations often seek out strategic partnerships, or alliances. Some examples of partners might include other nonprofits, for-profit companies, and any other organization whose work relates to the nonprofit’s mission. A positive relationship with the press is often viewed as part of a successful nonprofit marketing plan as well. For example, having a staff member that is perceived as an expert by the media could help provide regular press coverage of the organization.

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