Business in the Non-Profit World
In a world full of causes, beliefs, creeds, and stances how does a business stand out? The
fundamental aspect of “making money” is no longer a viable mission statement. To be a great
business you must be helping the world, providing something revolutionary, or innovating better
and faster ways to operate in today’s technological world.
Where does that leave small business? Truthfully, it leaves them in the dust. Many small
businesses do not have the funds to give generously to charities. There are more than a few that
are just barely scraping by. So they are left behind and miss out on one of the biggest marketing
opportunities of our time.
What if they didn’t have to miss out? What if being a “give” centered business was
achievable and profitable? It can be, and with the right tools it can be a game-changer to many
There are over 900,000 public charities within the US alone. Over 25 percent of
Americans over the age of 16 have volunteered for a charitable organization. As of 2011, public
charities reported 2.87 trillion dollars in total assets (NCCS).
Gleaning from these statements we can see that:
Over ¼ of the population identifies directly with one or more Non-Profit organizations
The Non-Profit sector holds a vast amount of wealth
There are many different organizations to choose from
These three stats give the reader insight into how incredibly vast the Non-Profit sector truly
is. Aligning any kind of business with that power will make for an easy and profitable business
A synergistic partnership between an organization and a business requires two things. It
requires a time-sensitive promotion that will convert their following into your business, and the
willingness of the organization to advertise that promotion.
To start, assess your current area and audience. What charitable organization would directly
benefit the people you serve? If the people you serve are well off, what kind of charities and
causes do they give to? The key factor here is to align your business with a cause that would
motivate your audience to buy from you. If they do not identify with you or your cause, they
certainly will not want to keep coming back.
After narrowing down some specific organizations, compare all of them according to their
size and followings. Do they have a monthly newsletter with hundreds or maybe even thousands
of subscribers? Are they participating in Social Media and have a large following? Do they have
access to traditional advertising such as TV, radio, or print?
It may seem strange to pick an organization based on media usage, but the most important
aspect of a business to charity relationship is the profitability of both parties. If they do not have
the facilities to advertise your promotion with them then it will be extremely difficult to mobilize
Go out and meet the organization you will choose. Understand how they operate and see the
good work that they do. It is not enough to simply appreciate their work you must also become a
zealot of their cause. If you are going to base your business around a cause, you need to identify
with it well.
Speak to the Marketing or Communications specialist associated with the organization. If
they do not currently have one, try speaking to the director or founder. Explain to them that you
would like to provide a mutually beneficial relationship, one that will generate funds for both of
you. As a general rule the organization will be more than happy to work with you.
Structure your promotion in a way that is easily understandable to your audience. If you are a
service provider, such as a car wash, you might take one day out of the week and give $1 for
every wash you run to the organization. If you are a producer of goods you may be able to create
a brand new product of which the proceeds will go to the organization. Whatever your idea may
be make sure it will be bringing repeat customers frequently. The main purpose is to be
converting the abundant following of the organization into repeat business for your company.
Take the advertising you are currently doing for your business and work this promotion into
it. Instead of focusing on how amazing your business is, focus instead on the work you do for the
community. It is important to get your name out there, but do you really think consumers care
that much about how absorbent your unique mop heads are? They want to know that the
companies they do business with are humans at heart, and that is exactly what you should be
Ensure that the organization is readily broadcasting to their followers about your promotion.
Without their effort the promotion will certainly fall through the cracks and be forgotten.
Keep the promotion going for an extended period of time. If an aspect of the promotion is not
working, change it and test the new idea. It is important that consumers establish a routine of
going to your business to support their favored organization. This cannot happen if the times and
dates of the promotion are not regular and appropriate.
Finally, find a way to measure your return on investment from the promotion. In the
beginning you may see a negative balance due to lack of awareness. As the promotion moves
forward, you will be pulling more and more business from the fans and followers of the
organization you are helping. Also, calculate the tax write-off you will be receiving from the
investment. This is a subtle form of ROI that you would not have without the promotion.
Creating a campaign centered on charitable action is a powerful way to conduct business.
Not only is your business crafting an advertising strategy that is targeted and secure, but also
enlisting the advertising efforts of a completely separate organization for free. For small
businesses as well as large, this type of promotion should be a fundamental aspect of the
company and how it operates. It will increase business, create great PR, and give your company
an edge over competitors.
Roeger, K. L., Blackwood, A. S., & Pettijohn, S. L. (2012). The NonProfit Almanac 2012.
National Center for Charitable Statistics. Retrieved from: