ethical nonprofit marketing with social media | charities, philanthropies, and churches

Using social media marketing for non-profit advocacy and online public relations

Given the role non-profits, charities, and philanthropies. The same principles apply to foundations and churches. One way for npos to market ethically online is to provide a community and resources for their users. One way this works in the corporate world is if you look to the Apple Store. The Apple store is filled with stuff to do and ways to interact with technology. They even host free classes in the store and give that away to their consumers. This serves as a form of lifestyle marketing which creates a strong bond between the company and the customer. Not only is Apple adding value to their customers, but they are creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

Not surprisingly, the same applies online in the context of a non-profit. Not only will users hang out more if you provide them with something to do or engage, but they are also more likely to buy or perhaps tell their friends about their experience. At the very least, this decreases the chances that they will spread negative info about Apple. Hence, social media and interactive new media provides nonprofits a unique way to market online. It overlaps with online public relations and online advocacy. Given that non-profit organizations are already about community and creating social movements, this is already something they should be culturally adept at faciliating. Its just a matter of non-profits and their staffs getting familiar with the technologies, the culture, and getting a little experience under their belts.

My Story and Ethical Non-profit Marketing
I picked up and read Katya Andresen’s book Robinhood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Saavy to Sell Just Causesabout a year and a half ago. It focuses on 8 core principles for non-profit marketing, I will highlight a couple of key principles Katya outlines:

Non-profit Marketing Principle 1: Information overload means you have to deliver a non-profit marketing message with precision.

“Our marketplace is as competitive as Times Square. In this environment, we never command the full attention of our audiences…If we ignore those forces, we’re one person standing on Broadway, holding a small, handwritten sign. Meanwhile the world is flowing around us, people are gazing upward, and we go unnoticed” (p. 77).

Non-profit Marketing Principle 2: If potential advocates are online, non-profits should be online engaging with social media

“Meeting our audience where they are has the added benefit of making our cause attractive to them because the more similar or familiar we seem to people, the more they tend to like us” (p. 41).

Non-profit Marketing Principle 3: Questions and conversational marketing work for non-profits

“When framing questions, ask people about their daily lives, their priorities, their experiences, and their stories. Then ask how they perceive our issue in this context” (p. 55).

Non-profit Marketing Principle 4: Smart Values Will Galvanize Your Audience.

“Humans have a basic need to be recognized and understood. Be meeting our audiences where they are and communicating from their perspective, we are showing them respect and fulfilling that human need for connection.” (p. 41).

Non-profit Marketing Principle 5: Keep it Simple Stupid Marketing (KISS ). And realistically kead with a story hook for your marketing efforts.

“Similarly, we should not saddle people with the burden of becoming an expert on our topic before asking them to do something about it.” (p. 15)

Ethical Nonprofit Marketing Websites, Books, and Resources
Check out Tech Soup for more about nonprofit technology. For more on ethical nonprofit marketing you might check out nonprofit books on Amazon or check out ethical marketing books on Google books.


3 responses to “ethical nonprofit marketing with social media | charities, philanthropies, and churches

  1. coalescentmarketing

    Here’s something I wonder about in the social media space. I has been shown that to get donors to support a cause you need commitment and trust. To get commitment and trust you need to have shared values. For more information see a discussion titled What Makes Nonprofits Tick at How do you jump the shared values chasm using social media — a less personal media than face-to-face interactions?

  2. People said the same thing about TV and radio in the early 1940s and 50s, but they’ve been proven wrong again and again.

    Social media’s scale (aka global and 24/7) solves that concern.

  3. Also, you mention personality of media. Well the point of social media is to enhance the existing lack of personality in web 1.0.

    Its not a question of face to face vs. social media, as much as its a question of how they can work together to create a better and more effective and more compelling communications message.

    And realistically, video and podcasting does a pretty good job of creating personal connections.

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