Non-Profit sites and what’s in it for me

Rule 1. Non-Profits need to engage in Marketing

Marketing isn’t Selling. Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service. Don’t mistake marketing as the attempt to explain what your organisation is, what it’s about, or what it does.

Appeal to Self Interest

In Marketing, you don’t explain all of your efforts and initiatives, keep that for Funding Applications and your important ‘About Us’ page.

You’re approaching people and, really, they care more about what you can do for them, than they care about your organisation. And they won’t give you their money until you answer their question, “What’s in it for me?”

Donors want to know how you can make their life better. They want to know the RESULTS that you can create for them. Even people who donate to non-profits need to feel like they’re getting something in return for their donation.

Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. For example, consider the difference between these statements:

– Our non-profit helps feed starving children. (ineffective)

– Our non-profit makes you the hero in the life of a starving child. (effective)


Don’t tell people what you do. Demonstrate how you change lives. This where pictures are effective.

Seeing a little girl, smiling, holding a jug of fresh water is something that rings true for many. Something that tells a story.

The appeal of Kiva, for example, is in the pictures.

Kiva recognises project sponsors and they receive a detailed completion report when the project is complete. A perfect hit on the bullseye of ‘what’s in it for me’.

So what’s the best way to start marketing your organisation?

  • Make regular posts
  • Tell a personal story
  • Add pictures, plenty of pictures
  • Be social media friendly
  • Make it easy for people to donate
  • Make it easy for people to interact

Most importantly, show your donors their impact: Be transparent! How did your organisation spend their money? Who was helped? Be accountable. If I know that I saved Spot the dog from being euthanised, show me a picture of Spot.