The Marketing To End All Marketing

Photo by janeandd
05.23.2012By

Photo by janeandd

In my previous column, I waxed about putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to marketing. My point was that our mouth, our voice, our marketing is grossly underfunded and because of that, our missions fall short–very short.

Much to my surprise, the column was the most viewed that week and there are some gems to choose from here. I assume it wasn’t just my mom refreshing the page every hour of every day. I know it wasn’t, she doesn’t how to “turn on” the Internet. That leads me to believe that people resonate with doing new things, doing big things beyond just managing and maintaining.

It’s a Sprint, Not a Marathon

Nonprofit marketers and executives are under daily pressure to perform with excellence. Their board is in one ear, staff is in the other ear, clients/community are in the other ear and donors are in the other ear. You get the point.

I have a saying: Nonprofits have a double bottom line–missional and financial–therefore double the responsibility. It is tough work to just maintain and not slip backwards. However, as nonprofit marketers, we are stewards of much more than just resources and services. We are responsible for solving and ending very complex, enormous, and historical social problems.

At least on paper.

Mission statements are suppose to be the piercing lighthouse in an industry that can become blinded by the fog of chasing dollars just to keep the doors open, just to survive and maintain. When the internal and external operating waters get choppy, and mission creep begins to pull at us, we should fix our eyes on the mission statement to steer us back on course. However, many of us are guilty of steering our ships based on our own internal compasses. We can recite the mission statement forwards and backwards, yet the gravitas of its inception and purpose is somehow lost on us.

Much like a lighthouse, the purpose of a mission statement isn’t to keep us out at sea, rather to bring us home and end our journey.

As I mentioned in my previous column, we need to start using marketing to end and solve (big) things. It is no longer acceptable to merely bring awareness to a cause. We need to stop using our mouth, our voice, our marketing to just keep the doors open. We need to put our money where our mouth is to do just the opposite–go out of business.

Who Has Done It

While there are undoubtedly more, there is one well documented and discussed example of a nonprofit leveraging all its resources to ending something and accomplishing their mission. That organization is the March of Dimes and the mission was to eradicate polio. While following their success, they repurposed and broadened their mission to continue serving infants and families. They were charged with a mission by the President of the United States to end something and they did.

While many of us haven’t been asked by the President to solve or end anything, we have a more permanent and often more powerful presence looking to us to do big things for them: our world.

With the advancement open-source technologies and social media becoming commonplace, more nonprofits are being established than ever before in our history. There were over 400,000 new nonprofits established in the United States alone in the last decade. There is a reason: “necessity is mother of all invention.”

Because so many missions are going unaccomplished, people are taking matters into their own hands and creating their own organizations. Many individuals who once received services from nonprofits have grown tired of the commitment to maintaining the status quo and have risen from the ashes to collaborate . . . and compete.

One such example is Mark Horvath and his organization, Invisible People. Mark is a trailblazer and firmly committed to ending homelessness. Status quo is not an option for him or his mission.

How It’s Done

Recently, a nonprofit has risen to the challenge and is using their marketing and mission statement to bring them home and to close their doors. Malaria No More supplies bed nets in malaria zones with a goal to end deaths from malaria. They have set a clear goal to their supporters and stay on message to that end in all things they do. They have stayed so laser-focused on their marketing and messaging, on their mission, they have announced the plan to close their doors by 2015. Mission accomplished.

Should you find yourself following suit and pushing all of your chips to the middle, you should be aware of the responsibilities and realities involved in dissolving. The Fieldstone Alliance has compiled a great resource outlining realities, and with the statement of statements on the cover: “The point at which a nonprofit organization’s mission is ‘to survive’ is the point at which the organization should consider going out of business.”

Are you in it to end it?

  • Lfay

    As a previous worker at Detox and Women shelters, I embraced any and all opportunities to spread the word” Through my efforts to find ways to communicate our Mission Statement and Fundraising efforts, I found many free ways to advertise. Using Rogers Community section or Social Media is a great way to reach a large target group. I now Volunteer a Wotch and I must say, many people have many great ideas. Utilizing the client base you service can work wonders in terms of Marketing. Peer to Peer Lead by au00a0Team Lead , can create wonderful inexpensive ways to MarketnnWe must get creative and reach out , embrace new technology. Community BBQ’s, Raffels, Curling Bonspiels, Family events, News, radio, Networking with other organizatons who may be willing to attend park events to promote their Organization, Flea Markets, You Tube, Your town Fair, oh my I could go on and on. You have me back in my marketing mode !!!!nnI wish all Non Profit Organizations the best in their efforts and who knows may be or paths will cross and one of the events this summer. nnBless you all

    • Doug Weinbrenner

      Thanks for the comment Lfay!nI love your relentlessness in using every social object to bring a focus to a cause. There are no rules! Keep up the great work.

  • John K – San Jose Rotary

    Excellent challenge to nonprofits. Rotaryu00a0has spent the last 27 years working to eradicate polio throughout the world (just 3 countries left to conquer) but continues to make smaller impacts as well. The discussion has begun about choosing the next “big” challenge. It proves that effective nonprofits should (and can)u00a0do both – focus onu00a0solving large seemingly intractable challenges whileu00a0providing incremental improvements in related areas.u00a0With the right commitment, nonprofits canu00a0run both sprints and marathons.u00a0u00a0

    • Doug Weinbrenner

      Thanks for the comment John!nI am glad to know the San Jose Rotary is believing in themselves to do big things – to end things. I’ll be putting you on my radar.

  • Cbmccallum

    Doug, you have written an excellent article. I do have a question. I work for a non profit that organizes and promotes neighbors helping senior neighbors live independently in their homes. We hope to “be there” for generations to come. Our mission is not focused on a final eradication or putting ourselves out of business. We plan to run the marathon. How does this difference effect the approach to marketing and promoting our cause?

    • Doug Weinbrenner

      Thanks for reading and for the kind words!nnYou bring up an excellent point. Your mission isn’t directed towards an issue that is preventable or extinguishable. I am sure there are many others just like yours. To that end, marketing to “end marketing” isn’t totally applicable. However, I do think the same fire and dedication is very much applicable.u00a0You hopefully have a strategic plan (formal or informal) that indicates goals towards making the problem of isolated elderly populations less prevalent and support for them more common place (I’m guessing here). Point is, all of your marketing and operations – regardless of mission – should be to at least incrementally make wrong things better, so over time the problem it is a shell of what it is now – if not gone.nThat’s my 2-cents. Thoughts?