The Center for Association Resources


Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Marketing for success

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Successful marketing is a discipline with an importance that is often underestimated in the management of non-profit organizations. Traditional marketing for for-profit firms involves a number of complex disciplines working together to find potential customers and put the company’s product in their hands. This is done with the goal of making a reasonable profit on the sale of the product. Non-profit firms often don’t have customers or products in the traditional sense, so the value of strong marketing is sometimes overlooked. However, by understanding the worth of marketing and knowing how to avoid some common mistakes, a non-profit organization can enjoy thriving success.

The first step in developing a successful marketing strategy for a non-profit organization is to understand the goal of the marketing efforts. One chief goal of marketing is to build and maintain a visible, credible company image. While a non-profit firm is not generally looking to sell a product to customers, they are always looking to sell their vision and mission to potential donors and volunteers. Marketing efforts should be geared towards creating a consistent identity for the company and making sure the community of potential donors is aware of that identity. There are several important steps which can be taken in order to achieve this.

One crucial step is to build a website. A strong internet presence can allow people unfamiliar with your organization to stumble upon it; in addition, potential donors and volunteers will often search for your organization’s website as the first step to finding out more information. A well-maintained website is crucial when trying to establish a strong, visually-communicated identity. The website can also be very helpful in disseminating information such as newsletters, event calendars, donation methods, and benefits of your organization.

Another important aspect of marketing which is especially important for non-profit firms is relationship management. Traditional for-profit firms know the advantage of maintaining customer information and being able to retrieve it quickly; this helps returning customers to feel as if they are truly appreciated. This process is even more critical when building relationships with donors. You should never find yourself asking major donors, “What did you say your name was again?” Get to know your donors and make them feel that their donations are well worth it. Whenever possible, explain to them where their money is going and how it is being used to benefit the surrounding community.

An additional marketing effort which should not be overlooked by non-profit organizations is the active search for alliances with local organizations, governments, and businesses. These alliances can bring extra visibility to the organization, as well as bring in extra money. For example, non-profits will sometimes engage private companies for donation-matching agreements for a particular fundraiser. This increases the visibility and rapport of both the non-profit organization and the private firm.

Above all, the biggest pitfall to avoid is thinking that the inherent goodness of your non-profit firm will bring in the money you need. Even though your organization may be doing work for a good cause, you will still need to create visibility and credibility to locate and attract potential donors. A successful marketing strategy can help to accomplish these goals and keep your organization thriving.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Marketing, Non-Profit, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , ,

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