For non profits, the answer is “Yes”
By Joseph John
You know that many of my articles focus on marketing and/or communications for non profits. Board members have a responsibility to “tell the story” about their organization and learn how to market or “package” their organization and the benefits it provides to the publics it serves and the publics it hasn’t yet “discovered.”
I really don’t see how the two processes — Marketing and Communications — can be separated for non profits. Especially in light of the fact that many non profit boards are small in number, i.e., bodies, and are limited in their organizational outreach programs. It just makes sense to combine the two — and it’s patently more efficient.
Marketing and Communications need to go hand-in-hand. As a matter of fact, I believe one of the standing committees for any non profit organization should be a “Marketing and Communications” committee. This committee’s charter is to — are you ready? — Market the organization’s programs and long term goals while Communicating the Vision, Mission, and Values. Marketing and Communications in the non profit arena are one-in-the-same.
When you’re effectively marketing, you’re effectively communicating. Of course, the inverse of that statement is true as your board members embark on fund raising campaigns, volunteer for special events, and speak at other public gatherings.
If you look at the word “Communication,” it contains all the letters of how action-oriented (and focused) your organization, and most specifically, your committee needs to be to tell the story to the community:
Commitment, Objectives, Marketing, Motivation, Utilization, Needs, Ideas, Controls, Access, Talent, Initiative, Opportunities, Negativity.
Let me work backwards on the acronym and highlight just some of the important elements of what you need to do in communicating the non profit organization’s mission:
Eliminate the NEGATIVITY and start looking for the many OPPORTUNITIES that are at your disposal. Don’t stifle the personal INITIATIVE and the TALENT that exists on your board and, most importantly, your committee. OH, by the way — remember that “members” of your organization, not necessarily board members, can sit on that committee. Fresh ideas from others associated with your organization, but not necessarily on the board will help with brainstorming, generating great ideas, packaging them and introducing those ideas in the community.
Make sure the committee has ACCESS to everything it needs, and the CONTROLS it needs to measure its objectives in order to carry out its mission. Encourage the generation of IDEAS while making sure that the NEEDS of the organization are met. UTILIZE every resource imaginable to tell the story, while you’re MOTIVATING internal and external publics. Always think of MARKETING your organization and all the great things it does for the community — look for that “competitive edge” that differentiates your organization from others.
Finally, make sure you have built measurable OBJECTIVES (benchmarks) so you can check the score, and most importantly, get the COMMITMENT from everyone in the organization that Marketing and Communications are one-in-the-same and are critical for success and long term growth.
So, is it Marketing or Communications? For non profits, the answer is “yes.”