For-Profit Strategies for the Not-for-Profit World

Some techniques applied to the for-profit world can have a major impact on not-for-profit organizations and improve their effectiveness, provided they are correctly implemented. This article is part of an editorial collaboration with BCorporation. The BCorp Series can be found here. The original publication can be found here.

At Phil, we believe that the not-for-profit and for-profit worlds have plenty to learn from each other. For 20 years, our company (which became a Certified B Corporation in 2017) has worked with hundreds of charities, foundations and socially missioned businesses to do more good in the world.

While not-for-profits proudly operate on a different model that evaluates success based on meaningful metrics like social return on investment and donor loyalty, they may lag behind in other areas. For example, the incentive structure in the for-profit world can push businesses to implement strategies on the cutting edge — an approach that can be successfully tailored to not-for-profits as well.

Here are three techniques currently being applied to the for-profit world that, when implemented correctly, can have a major impact on your not-for-profit organization today.

Phil is part of the community of businesses that have used a third-party verification of their impact. Use the free B Impact Assessment to evaluate your company’s impact on all stakeholders, including the environment, your workers, your community and your customers.

What is retargeting?

Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes on Amazon then felt like that same pair of shoes was following you around the internet? The pair of Jordans you were lusting after is now appearing on your Facebook feed, in display ads on news websites, and as sponsored content at the bottom of the articles you read. This is no coincidence — this is retargeting at work.

By installing a tracking code on a web page, marketers are able to “retarget” website visitors with advertising across the internet.

Why is it important?

We know that it is far cheaper to retain a current customer (or donor) when compared with the cost of acquiring someone new. It’s likely that your organization is already spending the time and energy to create awesome content and drive eyeballs to your website. However, the majority of those website visitors probably don’t take the action that you want them to on your website the first time they get there. Maybe this conversion action is a newsletter signup, maybe it is a donation, or maybe it is submitting a form to get more information about becoming a volunteer.

Regardless of the conversion action, retargeting allows you to gently reintroduce yourself to a previous website visitor. Based on our data, on average, more than 70% of website traffic is a first-time visitor to your website. Retargeting allows us to reapproach this traffic in the hopes of converting a one-off visitor to a loyal contributor.

How could a not-for-profit use this technique to better achieve its mission?

A well-executed retargeting campaign for your organization could resemble:

  1. A person visits your website, clicks on the “volunteer” menu item but doesn’t fill out the form on the page to get more information on becoming a volunteer.
  2. This person sees an ad on Facebook from your organization that reads: “Interested in volunteering? We’re looking for volunteers for 2020! Sign up below.”
  3. The person clicks on the link and becomes a volunteer for your organization.

How can you set up a retargeting campaign?

We won’t get into the nuts and bolts of setting up a retargeting campaign here, but you can reach out to us if you’re curious about learning more about how retargeting can help your organization achieve its goals.

What is audience segmentation?

Audience segmentation is the process of dividing a large audience into smaller, more similar subgroups. Typically, audiences are segmented based on demographic data (age, gender, etc.), or by action-related data (i.e. an audience of people who have volunteered for your organization in the last 12 months).

Why is it important?

Do you talk to your dog the same way that you talk to your mother? We certainly hope not! Donors, volunteers and board members do not want to be spoken to in the same way, either. Spending the time to adjust your messaging and strategy depending on who you’re speaking to can pay huge dividends over the long term.

How could a not-for-profit use this technique to better achieve its mission?

We used audience segmentation while working with Bromont Ultra to adjust the messaging that people received depending on how they’ve interacted with the cause-oriented running event in previous years. For example:

  • Previous events registrants received emails them encouraging them to register again for 2020.
  • Potential registrants (those who expressed interest in the event or ultra running but haven’t registered for the Bromont Ultra before) received promotional material about the event itself (what the event is and why it is the best ultra race in the east!).

The messaging also changes depending on whether website visitors register. Prior to registering, people receive information about the unique aspects of the Bromont Ultra. After they register, the messaging changes to focus more on logistical and promotional information (i.e. how you can get involved with the race as a fundraiser or volunteer). Depending on how email recipients engage with the content we send them, we can adjust our messaging to better cater to their interests over time.

How can you start to segment your audience?

Depending on the size of your audience, segmentation can be complex. We’d love to hear from you if you’re curious about learning how you can start segmenting your audience and speak more directly to the people who appreciate your organization most!

Photo Credit: Phil

What is marketing automation?

Hubspot defines marketing automation as using software to automate marketing activities. What this really means is using technology to create more time in the day for you and your team.

Why is it important?

Marketing automation saves your team time and energy. When done well, it can help convert web traffic to loyal donors. What’s not to love?

What’s an example application for a not-for-profit?

Let’s imagine Suzy Q decides to visit your not-for-profit’s website. Your not-for-profit is focused on animal welfare and provides services around facilitating adoptions, educating people on proper pet care, and reporting on animal rights infractions in the city.

Suzy takes a handful of actions on your website:

  1. She accesses the page about learning how to adopt a pet.
  2. She signs up for your newsletter.
  3. She spends more than 10 minutes browsing the organization’s website.

Using marketing automation, this organization could set up its marketing process to automatically email Suzy a pamphlet containing the current animals available for adoption. All without lifting a finger!

Have you been experimenting with any of the above strategies at your organization? Are you interested in learning more about how these strategies can help you reach your goals as we approach 2020? Contact us for a free consultation — we’d love to hear about what you’re working on.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of  Photo Credit: BCorporation
About the Author /

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

Scroll Up