Social Marketing and Not For Profit Organisations


The purpose of this essay is to indicate the differences between not-for-profit marketing and commercial marketing as well as to provide a clear discussion of the impact of applying commercial tools and strategies to social marketing. This paper draws insights from existing literatures which have explored the effect of of applying for-profit concepts and tools in the field of social marketing.

This essay documents how a certain not-for-profit organisation in the United Kingdom is able to display the implications of applying commercial concepts and tools and illustrates the key challenges fronting the social marketing manager arising from the differences between social and commercial marketing.

The Governance of Not-For-Profit Organisation

Not-for-profit organisation is a type of established existing for educational, humanitarian, and charitable purposes. The current approach to social marketing as embodied by various not-for-profit organisations is said to conjure with their main aim which is to benefit the public. The not-for-profit industry exists through tax privileges in which donations to them are tax deductible which free the industry constituents from many tax burdens (Glaeser 2006).

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The organisations do not have owners and the people who fund nonprofit industries through donations do not explicitly get full control of the rights over the firm (Glaeser 2006). Such feature makes the organisations self-perpetuating and not responsible to shareholders.

It is in this sense that the not-for-profit industry posits a weak nature of corporate control as the non-profit managers tend to belittle their capacity to maximise the objectives of the investors while the donors have a dwindling recognition about their influence on the institutions that they endow (Glaeser 2006). Not-for-profit organisations create a vivid picture of the many issues encompassing the general political and economic environment including the attitudes towards management and the smallness on management practice (Jackson and Donovan 1999).

It is noted that as the pursuit for the development of the welfare progresses on to a new level of advancement, the acceleration of such change has rendered consequences in the operational schemes and management of the organisations. The shift from traditional methods of the organisational culture to that of the revolutionary one sits at its focal point of achieving overall goals sometimes referred to as social capital and context (Marr 1999).

The said weak nature of the not-for-profit organisations and their manner of keeping up with the ongoing changes in the society and the elements surrounding it sprouted the conception that the industry often suffer from a bureaucratic or hierarchical organisational culture which necessitates a greater emphasis on change, flexibility, entrepreneurialism, outcomes, efficiency and productivity (Marr 1999).

Difference between social marketing and commercial marketing

Social marketing is being defined as one of the strategies for addressing social issues and is the use of of marketing principles, tools and techniques aiming at influencing a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify, or abandon a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups, or the society as a whole (Kotler, Roberto and Lee 2002).

Similar to commercial sector with marketers selling goods and services, social marketers, also considered as catalysts of change, are selling behavior to the target audience and want such audience to do one of four things: accept a new behavior, reject a potential behavior, modify a current behaviour, and abandon an old behavior (Kotler, Roberto and Lee 2002).

Social marketing is also the use of commercial marketing techniques aiming at improving social behaviour (Weinreich 1999). This definition is also validated by the Social Marketing Institute (Kotler and Armstrong 2008). Social marketing has a curious history as an intellectual enterprise concerning the widening of the marketing world beyond its traditional commercial approach (Andreasen 1997).

Scholars have long viewed that social marketing is a framework or structure that draws from various bodies of knowledge such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and communications theory which are the essentials for conceiving and understanding how to influence or inflict change in people's behaviour and actions (Baker 2003). Though the application of commercial tools in promoting social goals is surrounded by business glitches, the fusion of the logic of marketing to social goals is a natural development and is a promising one (Kotler and Zaltman 1971).

Such factors include the queries on cause-related marketing as a cynical exploitation of public sympathies for the sake of profits, if the idea of being a good corporate citizen is to be sincere and meaningful, then philanthropic activities be separated entirely from profit-making courses, social marketing is of questionable social value sometimes to the extent that an individual's cause maybe the other person's propaganda (Ewing 2001). Social marketing is treated as an endeavour that can be applied by both profit-making organisations as well as by non-profit organisations (Bloom and Novelli 1981).

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Based from this conception, the non-profit sector is just as profit-oriented as other businesses because they need excess revenues to support their existence; operates in the same environment and answers similar demands concerning the effectiveness and efficiency as for the for-profits sector;and the competition is a reality for all the kinds of organisations which in turn explicates the fact that not-for-profit industry must deal with the ongoing basis with rivalry for capital, labour, customers and revenues, and just like for the for-profits industry (Sargeant and Wymer 2007).

The utilisation of technology to keep up with fast-paced environment brings into the discussion the challenges which social marketing has to counter and confront with steadfast strategies and tools. It has been argued by various scholars that social marketing is too costly and that its individual-level approach fails to negate the noxious environments that are the true causes of behavioural change (Goldberg, Fishbein and Middlestadt 1997).

The Case of the Action for Blind People Organisation

This paper investigates the capabilities as well as the limits for applying commercialised tools to a certain not-for-profit organisations through the pursuits of the Action for Blind People Organisation (AFPB), an charitable institution located at Underhill Road in London that seeks to provide free and confidential support for the blind and partially sighted people in all aspects of their lives (Action For Blind People 2010). Its approach to the target audience include integration with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, discounted travels and visit to Vision hotels, visual awareness training, employment support, and housing assistance.

One of the commercial concepts inherent in this organisation is that it now employs essential number of people who play crucial roles in ensuring that the institution effectively fulfils its mission while complying with rules and regulations (Action For Blind People 2010).

History of the economics records it that the rally of the will to volunteerism is proved by the fact that the ratio of people who choose spiritual well-being rather than material well-being has been increasing since the 1990s (Imada 2008).

Marketing Analysis of the AFBP

The organisation caters to the blind in the United Kingdom and is an institution with a dynamic approach in reaching the target audience. The institution for the blind appeals to its target market using varied actions which ensure that the blind people are aided in everything from searching for a job, applying for benefits, housing issues, assistive technology, holiday vacations and information on local services (Action For Blind People 2010). Its approach to the target audience include integration with social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, discounted travels and visit to Vision hotels, visual awareness training, employment support, and housing assistance.

It is noted that charitable institutions such as the AFBP that rely primarily on voluntary donations for their ongoing support must customised their services to meet the desires of their donating constituency (McCants 1997). In this aspect, the AFBP's decision to incorporate paid staff with the volunteers is a crucial one in mobilising the aims and objectives of the institution.

As the organisation caters to the blind and the visually impaired people in from all ages and economic background, it is good to know that such institution possesses the characteristics of an ideal charitable institution. It is stated that charitable institutions are meant to impart messages and images that depict themes of commitment, devotion, caring, and a benevolent philosophy shown through principles of sound layout, design and imagery (Stittle 2003).

Browsing upon the marketing strategy of the AFBP, it is evident that there is a need for a wider market reach via commercial marketing such as radio advertisements, educational tours and other multimedia pursuits. It would be beneficial to thrive on social marketing that is musically orientated and dynamic for the blind. The need for commercialised service marketing appears in the picture (Newman 1997). The partnership with companies is a must as the social marketing movement continues to evolve in a level in which an increased awareness of social responsibility is expected from major companies (Ferreri 2003).

This notion reflects that the fusion of not-for-profit organisation with the for-profit institutions is the representation of social marketing connecting economics and capitalism to social awareness and therefore avoiding being an economic bully (Hawks 1997). A positively socially aware state of mind is a key aspect of marketing (Mercer 1996).

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The partnership with multinational companies conjures to the 21st century social marketing in which there is an inclusion of structural change in marketing strategy mobilised through the recruitment of business allies (Andreasen 2006). This action can be considered as one of the new fields in community-based social marketing (McKenzie-Mohr and Smith 1999).

Though the application of commercial tools in promoting social goals is surrounded by business glitches, the fusion of the logic of marketing to social goals is a natural development and is a promising one (Kotler and Zaltman 1971). ). Though it is an accepted truth that the application of commercial tools in a not-for-profit institution is not without effects and impacts, such action is required of the upstream organisations which aim to have a wider reach and stability.

In the onset of new marketing approaches, it is said that there is a need for a more radical movement in social marketing that stresses the efforts to change the negative social behaviours including those that originate as a functions of marketing activities (Goldberg 1995).

A tool called the Culturally-Adapted Social Market (CASM) is one of a number of participatory research and development approaches which can be executed by the AFBP in eliciting the target society's own project-related expectations and aspirations as the CASM differs from most of other participatory development methods only in as much as it does not suggest discarding or changing the project to meet client expectations (Epstein 1999).

There maybe friction in the application of commercial tools with the not-for-profit institutions but a tool such as the CASM will be able to provide insights on how to properly manage the challenges posed by such application which include regulatory set-ups, financial stability, reaction of the target audience, and the support and cooperation of the constituents of the institution.


The existence of the not-for-profit institutions nowadays posits the capability for a wider market reach through the utilisation of commercial tools originally meant for the for-profit organisations. Though such fusion is not without consequences and challenges concerning regulatory set-up, financial stability and gathering, client feedback, philosophical and ethical queries, it can be said that the fusion between for-profit organisations and not-for-profit institutions through commercial marketing can be beneficial if properly and carefully evaluated and strategise. The Action For the Blind People provides insights regarding the impact of a certain not-for-profit organisation applying commercial tools such as the use to multimedia and other forms of advertisements to be able to cope with the upstream movement of the social marketing. The tool called the Culturally-Adapted Social Market (CASM) is a kind of development approach which is suited for the AFBP in identifying the target society's own project-related expectations and aspirations as it is different from the other forms of participatory development methods. Social marketing as applied with the AFBP ensures greater capabilities for reaching larger audience while sustaining the needs of the organisation if it utilises carefully studied commercial tool.