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As a strategic marketing agency, we have been advocating to the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI), as the peak body representing marketing in Australia, on the importance of marketing within the not-for-profit sector.

With few exceptions, the marketing industry has been largely absent from the not-for-profit sector. We are aiming to change this by raising the level of discussion.

Our thoughts were recently published in the Australian Marketing Institute’s Marketing Matters Journal:

Australia’s not-for-profit industry is at a crossroad. Government funding, the most substantial contributor to the sector, is decreasing, yet demand for services continues unabated. Not-for-profit organisations need to take control of their future direction and marketing is essential as part of this strategy.

Why have marketers ignored the not-for-profit sector?

There is a need for marketing agencies to understand the not-for-profit sector and the value it provides our community. The not-for-profit sector contributes $48 billion in GDP and delivers essential community services.

Similarly, there is a low level of understanding in the not-for-profit sector about marketing and what it can achieve. Most not-for-profit organisations are not in the business of marketing and, as such, the function is often relegated to administrative staff rather than specialists. This view is changing due to funding reforms and an increased understanding that not-for-profit organisations need to be outwardly focused.

How do Marketers add value to the sector?

Marketing is undertaken to achieve outcomes, and we need to demonstrate the positive impact that is created through this transformation. We have been fortunate to work with not-for-profit organisations and charities where we have seen the positive social impact from reconnecting organisations with their communities.

Marketing lets us conceptualise products that create new industries, or disrupt established concepts. Internal marketing can lead to higher morale and reinvigorate processes to provide a higher level of customer service and direction.

There is value for marketers in the not-for-profit sector

There are many examples of how marketing has created sustainable change in the not-for-profit sector.

Programs, such as Governance Mentors, is an example of a not-for-profit organisation creating new enterprises and opportunities. Marketing also enables organisations to leverage their strengths, the Inner North Cluster of six neighbourhood and community houses, has fostered collaboration and shared resources, providing not only efficiency savings, but also the creation of new revenue streams.

We have a $43 billion market that needs innovation and marketing to ensure its ongoing success.

Increasing the level of interest in the not-for-profit sector will raise the profile of marketing and the discussion of how our profession can offer value. There are opportunities for both marketers and the not-for-profit sector, which also leads to improved social outcomes.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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