Not-For-Profit Marketing: Not For You?

October 25, 2017

Not-for-profit organisations are faced with a number of challenges when serving their community


“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why  you do it.”

This inspiring phrase, coined by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, is the ethos that describes how companies like Apple are motivated by a purpose that inspires everything they do. Consumers today are far more likely to justify purchasing a product or service from an organisation that engages in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

 It seems that this concept of being more altruistic in business originates from the non-profit sector in which an NFP’s sole purpose is to strive to serve the public and make the community a better place, with no hidden agendas or underlying monetary motivations.

This notion of being purpose-driven is gaining more and more traction in the commercialised market where large corporations operate in a profit-for-purpose fashion to resonate with their consumers.

Whilst for-profit organisatons have taken a leaf out of the non-profit sector’s book to be more purpose-driven in business, it’s time that NFPs reciprocate in due kind and learn a thing or two from corporations. What am I talking about? Marketing.


The Growing Challenges for Not-for-Profit Organisations

Australia’s not-for-profit sector is faced with a multitude of challenges. The decreased government funding coupled with the increased competition for these already sparse funds, in a sector that grows with "3000 new charities" (Pro Bono) annually, is but a bitter reality for today's not-for-profit organisations.

 Add to the mix, the recent NDIS changes and we’re really turning the aged care and disability sector on its head. These NDIS changes mean that not-for-profit organisations operating in the disability and aged care space will need to shift their focus “from pitching for government tenders, to winning over the consumer in the new ‘user-chooses environment.’” (Marketing Mag)

 Last and what seems to be the most pressing of challenges is the disruption of technology in the non-profit sector. In the age of a digital revolution, not-for-profit organisations that remain at the “forefront of the latest trends” (Marketing Mag) have the best chance at survival, with those struggling to keep up, being left behind and failing to achieve sustainability and meet their objectives.

 Customers, clients, donors, however we may choose to refer to them, live in a time of abundant choice. Whether looking for an aged care provider that will meet the unique care needs of a family member, or donating to a charity to support a cause, in today’s customer-centric world, an individual is in control of how they choose to spend their dollar and more importantly, with whom.



An individual exercises choice when choosing a not-for-profit aged care provider

 With no shortage of not-for-profit organisations around, those who “embrace new ways of thinking in terms of their relationship with their client and the services they provide” (Marketing Mag) will be the ones to survive in the consumer-focused landscape.

These challenges call for an ebb and flow effect with not-for-profit organisations being urged to adopt a change in mindset and be out with the old and in the new.

Enter marketing. 


How Can Marketing Help Not-For-Profit Organisations?

All too often, marketing gets a bad wrap and is perceived as being “too sales focused and fuelled by money” (Marketing Mag) and something that is only suited to corporates. The reality is quite the contrary.

 Gone are the days when marketing was solely a means of securing donations for a non-profit organisation. Instead today, marketing for non-profits means that they are able to get closer to their donors and clients to  satisfy their needs all whilst forging strong relationships and serving their community.

As is reinforced in Michael’s article, “we design and present our message to appeal to the hearts and minds of prospective donors and the strength of our appeal determines our success.” Just as profit-driven companies interact and engage with their customers both online and offline, not-for-profit marketing is the medium through which NFPs can better engage their target audience.

Non-profit marketing is not necessarily about reinventing the wheel. It’s about making changes that can make the lives of your customers easier.

 If a non-profit organisation is looking to collect donations, simply including a client testimonial video on their website demonstrating just how they‘ve changed the lives of the people in the community, can be an effective way of storytelling. “Humanising your marketing” (Forbes) and striking an authentic emotional connection with your target audience goes a long way in marketing and in this instance, reminds a donor of the ‘why’ behind your not-for-profit’s existence and how their contribution will make a difference to someone’s life.

 Non-profit organisations can then further nurture these donors through their customer journey by creating a flawless user experience (UX) incorporating mobile technology or other channels such as email marketing or social media (Forbes) to facilitate the process of making a donation



Not-for-profit organisations can simplify the process of donating to provide a better UX


Regardless of whom you serve, a host of marketing strategies for non-profit organisations can be used to drive engagement with your target audience and often, at an affordable budget.

 Before engaging in any marketing however, it is important that your not-for-profit organisation is across some basics.


How To Start Marketing a Not-For-Profit Organisation

Your not-for-profit organisation’s ability to survive in a consumer-focused landscape is largely dependent on your marketing strategy.

Three of the key factors that will help set the ball rolling in creating a successful marketing strategy for your not-for-profit organisation are your:

  • Vision
  • Market position and
  • Target customers



What’s the ideal future for your not-for-profit organisation? Your vision allows you to ascertain your purpose and how your non-profit business can make a difference to the community or the world. Having a vision provides a clear focus on the desired destination for your not-for-profit organisation and setting goals and objectives will keep you accountable and help you to head in the right direction.


Market Position

Are there other not-for-profit organisations working in the same space in which you operate? How do you differentiate yourself from them and what do you offer your target audience that they aren’t? By determining your unique value proposition (UVP), you can focus on creating a human-centred offering that satisfies the needs of the people in the community that you serve, motivating them to choose you over your competitors.


Target Customers

Who are the ideal donors, members, clients or customers that will help you realise your not-for-profit organisation’s vision? By using data and insights to build hypothetical personas, you can start to develop a better picture of your desired customers through understanding their fears and aspirations, their touch-points and their media preferences. Personas help to guide your future marketing efforts so that you can deliver a personalised experience to the clients of your not-for-profit organisation.

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These are the first 3 steps in marketing your not-for-profit business. By downloading the 'NFP Guide to Marketing eBook' you can learn how to create a marketing strategy that will drive client engagement for your not-for-profit organisation.

GET IT NOW                                                                                                                        





At Marketing Entourage, we work with a number of not-for-profit organisations to help them stay competitive and realise their vision. If you’d like to know more about our methodology and services, take a look at the relevant pages on our website or Contact Us for a free consultation and see how we can help transform the way you market your not-for-profit organisation. 

by Meerah Tauqir

Meerah Tauqir

Written by Meerah Tauqir

Meerah is a marketing and account manager whose experience has come from working, both locally and internationally, for a combination of multinational corporates and boutique companies. Coupled with her commerce accounting and finance background, Meerah is equipped with a robust skills set that allows her to be both creative and analytical. Meerah enjoys staying on top of all things marketing and is particularly passionate about Marketing Communications, Brand Management and Digital Marketing.

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