Why Non-Profits Need To Invest In Marketing

Posted by James Thiessen on Mar 9, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Non-profit organizations spending money to hire a marketing agency is a bit of a touchy subject for some. It is often frowned upon because the people that donate want to see their donation go straight to the cause they are supporting and not to things like marketing. Unfortunately, this way of thinking can actually undermine the causes that we are trying to support.

Spending money on marketing is often viewed as a negative thing that non-profits should limit as much as possible. In fact, when people hear that only 85% percent of their donation goes to straight to the cause and the other 15% goes to overhead, they start to question the ethics of an organization. Money spent on marketing is often seen as a waste in the non-profit world. When you compare this thinking to the for-profit sector there is a disconnect. The success of a for-profit business is often in its ability to market itself well. They spend a ton of money to generate leads and turn them into sales. By not allowing non-profits to do the same we are limiting potential growth of that organization by not allowing them to invest in growing the organization. Now don’t get me wrong, you still want to do your research to know that your donation money is being used ethically, but we need to stop limiting the growth of non-profit organization and understand that marketing is a good thing.



Here are 3 reasons why non-profits need to invest in marketing:

You will make more money

The greatest need for any non-profit is money. They are generally dependent on donations to survive and to make any kind of impact towards the causes they believe in. Making an investment in marketing can greatly increase the money available for non-profits to put towards their cause. In the last few years, Charity: water has been redefining how charities work. They give 100% of public donations straight to clean water projects, while using money from private donors to cover overhead costs like marketing. The ability to spend money on marketing has helped them grow into an internationally known charity.


Non-Profit-Marketing-Needs.jpgMore people will hear your message

Non-profit organizations are typically hesitant to spend money on marketing and are left in a room trying to brainstorm new marketing ideas that are free. While it is possible to reach people without spending money, you are very limited in what you can do and the amount of people you reach won’t be significant. By actually investing dollars into marketing you will open up more platforms to communicate your message and also reach more people.

Charity: water is a great example a non-profit using marketing tools that are generally used in the for-profit sector. They use inbound marketing to reach more people and inspire them with their vision. With their inbound marketing campaigns, they focus on creating great online content to connect with people and generate donations.

Make a greater impact

Any non-profit organization would say that having more money and reaching more people will them the ability to make a greater impact. You can only do so much without spending money on marketing. Charity: water was able to raise $42 million dollars for their 5th anniversary fundraiser using the inbound marketing methodology. They have been able to make a great impact and provide clean drinking water to millions of people in need. The investment they have made in marketing their organization well has gave them the ability to make a great impact in the world.

Final Thoughts

Just as marketing is key for growing a for-profit business, the same is true for non-profits. When non-profits are restricted in using money for marketing their hands are tied behind their backs and they are limiting the potential impact they could make. We need to change the way we view spending and marketing for non-profit organizations in order to let them grow to their full potential. The example of Charity: and how they use inbound marketing is a great framework for non-profits to generate more funding and reach more people with their message. 



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Topics: non-profit, Inbound Marketing

James Thiessen

Written by James Thiessen

James grew up in Canada until he married an American and moved to sunny California. He came to the US with a marketing degree and a go-getter attitude in pursuit of the American dream.