The importance of marketing your nonprofit



I was asked to write about the importance of nonprofit marketing for CharityChannel, a professional online home for nonprofit colleagues. This post grows from that article.

I am sure by now that we all agree that marketing is essential for your nonprofit’s survival.

A recent study Branding Forward: Navigating a Branding World in the Midst of Transition  found a significant number of marketers believe there is still a need to understand the fundamentals of marketing, even while embracing change.

After all, nonprofits are a business; they have customers. Marketing consists of the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with “customers” – donors, members, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders.

These relationships result in value for your organization and its stakeholders. I will go so far as to say that without these customers your nonprofit could not fulfill its mission and make an impact in the community.

At the heart of marketing is positioning. As described by Philip Kotler, marketer extraordinaire, positioning designs an organization’s image and value offer so that its customers appreciate what the organization stands for in relationship to its competitors.

Marketing is known to “pull” the audience from where they are to the nonprofit to create a desired action. Communications “pushes” out messages. Positioning is the linchpin between the two. 

Positioning flows from your nonprofit’s mission. Positioning guides your organization into the future and works to build its reputation with your key audiences.

Positioning is strategic. Can you think of anything more valuable than your nonprofit’s reputation? And, in this changing landscape where nonprofit’s must be nimble and quick, positioning takes on even more importance in competition to be loved “or be out.”

You can find more details about The Power of Positioning in an earlier post.

Loud & Clear: Successfully Marketing Your Nonprofit is a PowerPoint presentation I developed for GCN’s Nonprofit University. If you’re interested in our Marketing Communications Template, please contact me at