Marketing and communication are often a challenge for not-for-profits of all sizes for different reasons.

For Profit and Not-for-Profit Nexus in Marketing

In a previous blog we considered the different models of connection between for-profit and not-for-profit organisations that allow them to build strong partnerships to the mutual benefit of both organisations.  

Another important area where there can be a nexus between for-profits and not-for-profits is in the area of marketing and communication. Marketing and communication are often a challenge for not-for-profits of all sizes for different reasons.

Small to medium size not-for-profits often struggle to have sufficient funding to allocate towards marketing and communication. For the majority of not-for-profit organisations that have been established to meet community needs, the need of the individual takes priority.  Hence, when there are increasing numbers and complexity of client needs, it can be difficult to allocate funds for marketing and communication. It can seem to be a false priority and waste of funds.  

However, such thinking needs to be critically analysed.  While it may be difficult to make a budget allocation for marketing and communication, it is also the case that to attract funding and grants an organisation needs to have a strong profile that is recognised within the community. Marketing and communication tools enable an organisation to build such a profile which will assist it in grant and funding applications.  For example, deploying Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) on the organisation’s website is one way to begin building the brand profile.

Using skills and expertise of for-profit organisations specialising in communications and marketing to build the organisations profile is a great way to build the nexus between for-profit and not-for profit organisations. Most for-profit organisations that specialise in marketing and communication do understand the challenges faced by a not-for-profit organisation and can tailor their suite of services to meet the needs of small to medium sized not-for-profits.

Larger not-for-profit organisations are in a different situation to their smaller and medium sized counterparts. They will often have a budget allocation for marketing and communication; consequently, they have a higher profile and are well known in the community.  They have a media presence, an established on-line platform and often an extensive CRM that enables them to message and communicate with their client base.

Larger not-for-profit organisations will often have an in-house communication team, this can be both an advantage, and a disadvantage. The advantage is the in-house communication team knows the messaging that is consistent with the organisations profile. The team knows what language to use for particular messages. However, the disadvantages and challenges of in-house communication teams are often not considered. There are two particular challenges larger not-for-profit organisations need to guard against with using in-house teams.

The first challenge is the gradual insularity of the organisations messaging. Over time, unless the organisation invests in focus groups and data collection that demonstrates the shifting interests of their client group, the message will drift from what clients want to hear to what the organisation thinks the clients want to hear.  

The second challenge is that with the rapidity of changes in technology and communication, unless the organisation is investing heavily in keeping in-house teams current with changes, there is the risk that in-house teams will fall behind advances that are being made in the industry. This can also impact on the effectiveness of an organisations messaging and communication.

Using for-profit communication and marketing providers assist in avoiding these challenges.  For-profit organisations will enable larger organisations to test their messaging and ensure it speaks to their client groups and for-profit organisations are more likely to stay current with changes in technology and practice because their survival depends on remaining relevant.

There is a strong nexus between for-profit and not-for-profit organisation in marketing and communication. It is knowing how to utilise this nexus for mutual benefit.