Josh Bolinger: Building an Effective Non-Profit
I’m a big believer in people helping each other, in cooperative endeavors.
When you think of the biggest, most effective and memorable companies in our society, we often think of soda products, car brands, big entertainment companies. But we rarely associate non-profit or philanthropist organizations with large-scale operations. Why is that? Regardless of how pure the intentions, these humanitarian groups have to operate like businesses in many ways. Just like Coke, Nike, and Lexus, they have costs, staff, margins to consider and plan for. But many of these “groups for good” ignore the power of advertising and marketing.
I believe non-profits should advertise and market themselves more than they do. If a large global company like Coca-Cola took the marketing philosophy that most non-profits seem to live by, they would go out of business. That’s because large companies understand you have to spend money to make money, you have to invest in marketing to get your message out to people and bring money in. A term for this that gets thrown around a lot is “conversion rates,” which is to say, your marketing message reaches a million people, and then thousand of them do business with you.
I think a lot of charitable organizations are too image conscious, and don’t want to be seen to be spending donor money on advertising, but I think that’s an idea whose time has come and gone. Branding works for large corporations, and it can work in the world of charity, as well. If modern assistance organizations want to operate in the 21st century, they need to embrace the best practices of industry – build a world-class team of the best and brightest and raise serious money to make a real positive change in the world.
Just like the world of business, if you want to operate on a large scale and reach people all over the planet, you have to be the best, and then people have to know you’re the best.