Despite the similarities between not-for-profit t and commercial marketing, there are some key differences in how marketing is used in the not-for-profit t and for-profit t environments, particularly in relation to marketing communications. Kotler and Levy (1969) were the first marketing academics to realize the potential of broadening the application of marketing to not-for-profit. Three factors stand out for me as we examine the difference between not-for-profit and for-profit marketing approaches.
- Product—with not-for-profit ‘products’, there is typically a weaker unique selling proposition, i.e. weaker direct benefit it’s making it more difficult to direct customer or target audience behavior in the way desired. For example, Lynn’s Lighthouse offers a curriculum as a product. Beyond the curriculum, however, we offer a framework for thinking about supporting the wellness of staff. One would need to understand our framework in order to want to learn more about our product. This is a complex, intricate approach that does not easily fit into a box. A weaker direct benefit can be overcome. Well, informed staff who work from the mission and vision of the organization can be a great first step.
- Segmentation—in the not-for-profit environment, it may be necessary to develop a campaign to drive behavior in all targets rather than a specific audience, as in commercial markets. Not-for-profit organizations need to continually check the marketing strategy against the environment, available resources, and the organization’s values.
- Communication is a key marketing activity that enables the organization to achieve many of its marketing goals. A nonprofit’s clients are the people to whom it provides services. There must be effective communication for the exchange between client and organization to be successful. Successful nonprofit organizations establish bonds with their stakeholders and develop relationships with them.
Gallagher K, Weinberg CB (2001). Coping with success: new challenges for nonprofit marketing. Sloan Manage. 33(1):27 – 42