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Nonprofit Marketing Books


Nonprofit Marketing Books

By Tom Peterson

Robin Hood Marketing

Looking for nonprofit marketing books? Start with Katya Andresen’s Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. In the spirit of Robin Hood, the book is about “stealing corporate know-how and applying it to good causes.” Andresen explains ten proven marketing principles—such as get people to do something specific, create a strong competitive position—and walks you through how to use each one to help your cause.

Andresen tells great stories to back each idea and includes interviews with people who have mastered each principle. She often speaks from her own experience. To illustrate the principle that we should appeal to our audiences’ values, and not our own, she gives this example from the Ukraine:

A small organization… was working to motivate apathetic teenagers to care about politics, the future of the country, and voting. The group was frustrated because its message wasn’t getting through to this tough audience. So it attended a marketing training. At the session I asked them what there were telling teenagers. “We’re telling them about our organization and how they should care about the future of the country,” the twenty-seven-year-old director of the organization said. “If they vote, they can have a brighter future.”

He was only 27, but he was already too old to instinctually think like a teenager. Eastern European teenagers aren’t that different from American teenagers: they don’t focus on the distant future, and they end to be cynical. Promising a better country or a brighter future isn’t exciting to them. The organization’s director and I talked about what teenagers did value, based on his informal research and work with them. What interested them? What got under their skin? He said his staff and volunteers always talked about Ukrainian teenagers as cynical and somewhat rebellions. Teenagers were especially tired of lecturing from their babushkas (grandmothers).  What did the country’s babushkas want? “They want things to be the way they used to be in Soviet times, with a good pension system. And they don’t like the way young people dress and act. Teenagers don’t agree, of course.”

…We talked about how to change his marketing approach according to these insights. He ended up making a slight change in his message that made an enormous difference in its meaning. The new approach (in rough translation): “You decide your future, or your babushka will do it for you. Vote on October 31.” Because of the work of hundreds of such organizations and an increasingly involved and engaged citizenry, some 80 percent of Ukrainians went to the polls during that historic 2004 election. Plenty of babushkas were at the polls, but so were many young people.


Nonprofit Marketing book

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide by Kivi Leroux Miller grew out of a rightly perceived need of small nonprofits with small staffs whose communications or marketing teams were overwhelmed and couldn’t do it all, nor could they pay a multitude of consultants. The result is self-described as “part real-world survival guide and part nitty-gritty how-to handbook for busy nonprofit marketers with small budgets and staff, including executive directors who are asked to do it all.”

Miller begins with the realities of today’s nonprofit world and a succinct overview of marketing (my experience is that most nonprofit marketers didn’t major in business). Then, while using the time-tested basics of traditional marketing, Leroux Miller takes you step-by-step through how to make a “quick and dirty” marketing plan, cutting through much of the hoopla to get what you actually need. Identifying the audience, honing the message, telling the story and creating the marketing channels—all told from the perspective of someone who’s lived it and been around it with many colleagues.

The next section is the importance of (and how-to) building a community of supporters. And the final on is on how to do it yourself without doing yourself in. The entire book is as helpful as advertised: High-impact, low-cost ways to build support for your good cause.

Nonprofit Marketing Resources

Robin Hood Marketing

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Kivi Leroux Miller’s website: Nonprofit Marketing Guide with a blog, frequent webinars, e-books (including How to Write a Nonprofit Annual Report). All practical, tested information.


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