How Should a Nonprofit Engage in Marketing?

When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region.

Matthew 9:23-26

I shared with my friend about a nonprofit called Embrace Washington doing a lot of good for children in foster care. She immediately said, “Oh wow! That’s cool what they are doing, how can I get involved?” I was spreading the word just by being excited about this nonprofit’s programming and the outcomes they created.

Embrace Washington has real impact, and my excitement is enough to encourage others to get involved. I realized in that moment that the nonprofit had an excellent program and I had become a marketer on behalf of the organization.

If you work at a nonprofit, do you shudder when someone says, “marketing?” That word can bring up suspicious feelings. Some may think marketing as being untruthful by “putting spin” on a situation. They might remember someone yammering on about a nonprofit in a self-promoting way. Others remember an event that doesn’t hold substance and has 20 solicitations for money. In addition, some nonprofits tend to not employ marketers or consider their marketing plan as integral for them to reach their mission.

However, marketing is necessary and it can be done with integrity. Think of it this way: Marketing is influence (Kay & Shi). John Maxwell teaches that leadership is influence. Therefore, it is possible to view good marketing as good leadership. A bad leader (influencer) is memorable, and so is bad marketing (influence). Those that influence have an obligation to pursue their mission with consistency in all things at all times. If that seems overwhelming, think about how you talk about nonprofits you care about and how you keep on message about the mission. Staying focused on a positive message is good influence and good marketing.

How is it possible to be a good leader and a good marketer? The Bible shows how Jesus “marketed” the ministry in three steps:

  1. Jesus saw that the situation at hand as positive. Good marketing reveals the vision and mission at every turn.
  2. Jesus stayed on mission. He did what He was sent to do, no matter if people laughed at Him or not.
  3. Jesus continued the work. When your nonprofit has programs of excellence and a track record of consistent outcomes and real change in people’s lives, people notice. Good leadership and solid programing produce excellent marketing.

In the end, the best marketing is your strategic plan of how you will be a positive influence. If you continue to be a nonprofit on a mission, then you will have stellar programs with worthy leaders. Word will spread fast—and that is marketing at its finest.

How have you seen a nonprofit stay on mission and that became what everyone was talking about? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at

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