©2019 by Leadership Advisors, LLC. Saint Paul, Minnesota.

  • Stephen Usery

Is non-profit marketing an oxymoron?

“The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and at higher prices. There is no other reason to do it.” – Sergio Zyman, former head of marketing for Coca-Cola.


A provocative quote, even in the for-profit world, but one which helps explain the uneasiness some non-profit executives and board members feel about using branding and marketing techniques to advance their cause. Is marketing manipulative? Is it at odds with the values of a mission centered organization?


Of course, like most tools, marketing science can be used for good or evil. Non-profits can and should take full advantage of mission-appropriate branding and marketing strategies. Failing to do so results in an organization with fewer resources, reaching fewer people, than it could. So, let’s recast Sergio Zyman’s quote for the non-profit world, with the dual bottom-lines of mission and money firmly in mind:


“The dual purpose of non-profit marketing is to gain support (monetary and otherwise) from more people, more often and to expand the reach of mission-centered programs. There are no other reasons to do it.” - Leadership Advisors


Non-profits can clearly benefit by applying best practices in branding and marketing, while avoiding those practices at odds with their values. For example, membership-based non-profits may glean more revenue by using pricing strategies that incentify members to choose a more costly membership tier. Is this manipulative? Is it a violation of values? The answers will be different for different organizations and depend on how the membership options are designed and presented.


Yes, it is possible to do marketing well while doing good. We can help lead your organization to effective, mission-appropriate branding and marketing strategies. Contact us today to learn how.