Convince and Convert: How Nonprofits can use some great Marketing Ideas from the for profit sector


              “If you sell something you can create a customer for today, if you help someone you can create a customer for life” The is a quote from Jay Baer from this YouTube video :

Jay Baer is a leading blogger, author and speaker in areas such as content marketing and social media. If you want to check out some of his articles and videos you can go to his website:

           If you watch the video above you will hear Baer talk about how being “helpful” with your marketing creates and develops relationships. Some of his examples in this video and others of companies who have used this type of approach, will not necessarily strike you at first as inherently the approach your own organizations marketing might be taking. However if you bear with the examples he is providing you will find yourself experiencing some “a-ha” discoveries and quickly come to appreciate how this approach is successful in the environment that we currently live in.

           I shared this video with a colleague of mine and she asked the question:” How do you apply this to the nonprofit sector?” Which is a really good question. If you work for a charity that is in the healthcare field you might be quicker to come up with some examples. For example if you work for Heart and Stroke, maybe you might create blog posts or articles on your website or newsletter about how to avoid having a stroke or how to improve your health after a stroke.  Essentially you create material which is “helpful” to your users and those who are close to your users.  With this content you are providing a service but you are also marketing your organization.

         One of the other parallels nonprofit organizations can draw from this approach is to consider Baer’s quote at the top of this post. Instead of “customer” replace this word with a stakeholder who helps your organization. So instead of “customer” insert “volunteer” or “donor”. Each of your volunteers and donors who help you is also meeting at least one of their own needs. For many of these supporters this need is as simple as they feel it is important to make a difference in their community, or it is important to give back. One way a charity can be “helpful” is creating content which illustrates specifically how much of a difference these volunteer hours create. Or illustrating what difference a $100 or a thousand dollar donation actually makes to the people you are serving.  In business there is great value in creating a customer for life instead of a one-time customer. To take the nonprofit example one step further, it is easy to imagine what difference a volunteer or a donor who helps you for life can make. If you looked at the organization I work for, and consider our supporters, we have a lot of people who will give us a donation or volunteer in some way in a given year. However if you look at the people who are really engaged in what we do it is amazing how this support can translate into benefits for children. If you looked into our records and pulled out all the donors who gave us 5 or more donations over the last five years you would find people who gave us gifts in the range of $25 to $100 each year, and you would find some donors who gave us some gifts in the $10,000 to $100,000 range. The interesting thing about this group of supporters is that people who have given us more than 5 gifts (some of these individuals may have given as many as 16-20 gifts in this time period) in the last five years works out to about 2% of all the people and companies who have given us a gift in this time period. However their gifts work out to about 20% of the gifts that we received during that time period.

          We need and appreciate the people who give us one donation, but not unlike business if you are able to create supporters who are supporters for life (or a least a very long time) it will have a transformative effect on the work you are able to do for the people your charity supports.


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