Even though the mandate of a not-for-profit organization and for-profit businesses are different, they have very similar challenges. The public only has so much time or money to donate, and there are so many worthy causes out there. Competition for the audience’s attention is tough, but a great marketing campaign is an excellent way to increase awareness to the cause.

Marketing for a not-for-profit must appeal to people differently than business marketing. Where one calls on people to buy a product or service, the other calls on people to give either their time or their money. While the obvious similarities are present, there is a fundamental difference: the ultimate success for those working in not-for-profit would be to work themselves out of a job. For example, the Canadian Cancer Society ultimately wants to cure cancer, not host relay races.

The difference between business and not-for-profits lies in how the marketing is targeted; a for-profit looks to showcase a specific customer need, and how it’s product or service can fulfill it. On the other hand, a not-for-profit is looking to showcase their need, while showcasing how their ‘customers’ can fulfill that need through the donation of time, money, or service. Much differently then a business, a not-for-profits main goal is to no longer exist; that is to say that through their hard work they have achieved their goals, and no longer have a cause that requires an organization to represent it.

To achieve this success, not-for-profits must utilize great marketing and clearly define gauges of success. Each not-for-profit is unique, but most have similar mandates. The goal is nearly always cause marketing, which brings public awareness to the issue at hand. Secondarily, the marketing must address things like fund development, volunteer recruitment, and service delivery. The marketing campaign for a not-for-profit is only as strong as it’s strategy, so let’s start there.

Clearly outline the goals of each campaign: Whether you are looking to raise awareness, gain financial support, or attain sponsorships, you must outline the goals of each campaign with clearly defined gauges of success. The marketing plan and campaign will vary between goals, but all not-for-profit marketing must sing from the same song sheet.

Understand your target, and tailor your message: If you are aiming to engage potential donors, your message will be different than if you are trying to recruit volunteers. Plan your messages around the specific goals and targets, and ensure you are telling the right story to the right audience.

Utilize the right media streams: Once you have your goals defined and have crafted a tailored message for your target audience, deciding on how that message is delivered is the next step. Not-for-profits understand the importance of budgets more than anyone, and by utilizing the right media for the right message, organizations can stretch their marketing budgets further, ultimately reaching a wider audience of potential donors or volunteers. This could be the difference between a radio spot or television ad, or a mailer rather than a brochure.

At WJ, we understand cause marketing. We are particularly proud of the work we have done with STARS Air Ambulance with their STARS and Spurs Gala. After years of hosting the annual event, we were contacted to develop a brand for the event that would carry it through upcoming years. Visit our portfolio to see what we did for this amazing annual fundraiser.