A couple of months ago, I returned from a blissful three weeks eating, drinking, and site-seeing my way across Italy.  No TV, very little news, and since my vacation was just before the elections, what I found to be a delightful adjunct was no political advertising.  Of course upon my return, I was bombasted by a deluge of messages that I often could not confirm or deny and messages with a complete lack of professionalism that I could only characterize as just plain bad advertising.

This year spending on political campaigns exceeded $1 Billion with 2.2 million advertisements being aired.  I'll save the debate over how money influences our politics for another time.  Instead, now that the dust has settled, I'd like to place my hand on a stack of bibles and state for the record that this type of marketing is not representative of what most marketing professionals provide. Political advertisements, quite simply are the worst of the worst examples of marketing you can find. As a matter of fact, advertising is just one tactic among hundreds that make up the discipline, it is not representative of its breadth.

I've spent most of a lifetime engaged in marketing in one form or another.  It colors my world, informs, directs, and works to educate the uninitiated.  Communication is one of the most powerful of human qualities and marketing sparks the conversation that improves communication. Unfortunately, many in the nonprofit community do not place a high level of importance on marketing and are hesitant to invest in this most fundamental of business practices. Perhaps it has a bit to do with a sharp focus on the mission, perhaps it has a little to do with being humble.

How you market your organization may make the difference between its success or failure. Five reasons to up the ante on your nonprofit's marketing budget.

  1. It is important to know that marketing is everything your organization does to build relationships. Without relationships your mission falters, fundraising declines, collaborations become nonexistent, and impact is diminished.

  2. The discipline of marketing plays an integral role in the daily operations of your organization,it touches virtually every aspect of your business. With a holistic marketing strategy that takes a systemic approach to management, you learn about your environment, your constituents, others in your community and how to best position yourself.

  3. Sound marketing practice requires you to articulate measurable objectives, so your organization remains on target regarding goals and decisions affecting program and budget.

  4. Tracking progress is fundamental to marketing.  By employing marketing techniques to measure your programs and other aspects of your organization, you improve program and your case for funding.

  5. Marketing provides an overview of your work, demonstrating what you're doing and why to encourage colleagues and funders to engage more deeply with your organization.

Running a nonprofit has always been tough and it's getting tougher.  Due to the decrease in funding from the public sector, the increase in competition for funds among an expanding number of organizations, and increased pressure to demonstrate impact, you need to find your competitive advantage and present it to your community in an effective manner. There's a reason why the most profitable businesses and most successful organizations invest heavily in marketing. 

To kick off your 2015, consider a marketing assessment from Questus Strategies. During the month of January we will be offering a discounted rate on this service, don't miss out on a great 2015!