The four P's of nonprofit marketing
By Bob Dolgan
September is traditionally the time when nonprofit organizations take a serious look at their plans for year-end fundraising. For many organizations, the last several weeks of the year account for the majority of individual giving. The rise of Giving Tuesday has changed the traditional calendar a bit. So have changes to the tax code — Dec. 31 is more of a symbolic deadline than it was in the past. What hasn’t changed is the importance of communicating with advocates, donors and volunteers — early and often.
Here is a primer on the four P’s of nonprofit marketing, a framework I developed after studying the four P’s that reign in corporate marketing. Nonprofit marketing has some things in common with for-profit marketing. It also has many things unlike for-profit marketing in that its activities are for public benefit rather than for shareholders. So here goes.
People are the advocates, donors, employees, partners and volunteers who support your cause and may be best positioned to support it again. Each of these groups requires a slightly different approach, though relationship-building and communications are at the core. People may be approached through events, phone calls and meetings, or virtually via email or social media. Your interactions with People throughout the year should build to a well-positioned request for support at the end of the year.
Programming refers to the mission of the organization or the services it provides. Having marketers present for programming conversations is highly valuable. When I was with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the rollout of the Producemobile served multiple purposes — it provided fruit and vegetables to food deserts but also served as a unique identifier for the organization and a popular program with members of the media, donors and volunteers. In the end, the organization’s programs are a form of marketing.
Promotion is made up of the organization’s marketing channels, or all the communications that explain services and their impact. Promotion tactics are especially varied, including advertising, blogs, direct mail, emails, newsletters, podcasts, social media, websites and video. The goal of promotion is a high volume of impressions that reach people several times with meaningful information about the organization. It’s important to be consistent with everything from messaging to visual identity.
Purpose is about differentiating an organization’s offerings and creating value that goes beyond the services it provides. Purpose can relate to the organization’s beliefs, how it goes about its work and how it conveys its organizational voice. One significant opportunity under Purpose is storytelling. The way the organization shares its most compelling anecdotes can help it stand out from the crowd. Purpose can be one of the less tangible concepts but also can be one of the most powerful.
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