A New Age in Marketing Charities & Non Profits By : Richard McCulloch

A New Age in Marketing Charities & Non Profits

This past summer, a visit to the ALS Association website (alsa.org) evidenced the power of viral social media, and the impact that an awareness-focused marketing approach can have in increasing donor participation and raising revenue for a worthy cause.
Not only did the homepage of the ALS Association showcase a bright red, ice filled bucket emblazoned with “ALS” at the top of the page, but their “In the Spotlight” section also invited visitors to experience the ice bucket challenge with links to all their social media platforms.
From celebrities to soccer moms, and yes, even this writer: people from every walk of life enlisted a friend or family member to pour a frigid concoction of ice and water over their head in response to a nomination from another friend or family member to participate in the aptly named challenge.
How effective was this campaign for ALS awareness and the affiliated donation bottom line? The ALS Association website confirmed that when it comes to donations garnered as a result of the ice bucket challenge, “The Association received over $100 million, with donations ranging from under one dollar to $200,000” as of August 29, 2014. The marketing reality is clear: Awareness predicates participation, and participation predicates investment.
The willingness to be a part of positive change and give relief to those suffering is a character trait that punctuates the very foundation of our humanity. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are torn by crisis after crisis, and cause after cause. Focusing our attention on just one or a few of the many cries for help that we are confronted with requires a filter that either brings the concern to light, or makes the light brighter through awareness.
This is where an effective and often unconventional marketing strategy can be of undeniable importance to a charity or special interest group.
When analyzing the profound impact the viral ice bucket challenge had in generating awareness and dollars for the cause, I realized that as a marketing professional focused on the Higher Education sector, our daily work with schools and colleges mirror the approaches that can be successfully translated into work with charities and other mission-focused not for profit organizations.
After all, just like an effective marketing strategy designed to support the objectives of a charity, in our marketing of Higher Education:

  • We are marketing a mission oriented enterprise that offers an intangible service. Unlike a retail-oriented business that offers a tangible product which satisfies the consumer need for immediate gratification, we market hope and the opportunity for a better future.
  • Our branding campaigns breed awareness, and offers the prospect a filter by which to differentiate one institution from another, despite similar offerings and objectives.
  • We utilize Website Development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media as effective marketing strategies designed to define and improve an organization’s public face, and scale the impact of their message and mission.

As eye opening as the cold, icy water was as it first hit my body in the ALS ice bucket challenge, so has been the realization that struggling charities and not-for-profits have a tremendous opportunity to bring awareness and much needed financial support to their causes by strategizing with marketing professionals.
The ALS Association and those that suffer from this debilitating disease have greatly benefitted from the power of effective marketing. What we have learned from their unparalleled success is that the donors are out there. They just need help in finding out who you are, what you do, and how they can fill your donation buckets with more than just ice.
Contact Tribeca Marketing Group today to discuss how our experience can benefit your Not-for Profit organization! contactus@tribeca marketinggroup.com or 954-800-6501