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Updated 18/9/08

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Marketing concepts and how they can be applied to voluntary organisations, whether it is for campaigning, increasing membership or fundraising. More of a quick dip rather than an indepth treatment.



This a briefings style page, in Taking Action grouping.

The 4 Ps - Price, Place, Promotion, Product.

This is part of your marketing mix - these elements all have their part to play, but which is most important in your activity? They usually have to be translated in the voluntary world e.g. Promotion might mean how do service users get to hear about your service (Product) or how do you lobby your local council to provide initial funding. Place is where you provide the service/product - a high street location will make your marketing task a lot different from being in a shed out of town! Price often translates into cost with vol orgs, but perhaps could include non-financial transactions (eg volunteer time) when selling the product to a funder.

For Services, there are 3 more Ps: People (attitude and behaviour of staff or volunteers), Process (how the service is delivered), Physical evidence (of quality). 2 more have been suggested: Philosophy (particularly for charities) and Perception.

Ansoff Matrix

ansoff matrix

Here the idea is that you should a) be aware of the relative risk of options and b) ideally have your developments spread amongst these four - high risk is doubly so if there are no low risk ventures to fall back on. Of course many charities are very risk averse - they dont want to endanger their core operation or even think risk isnt allowed by law! But the no risk option probably doesnt exist (staying still often means stagnation, few aspirations or challenges for staff, poor motivation ...). In a changing world, change (and therefore risk) is ever present and needs to be managed if the core is to be protected.

Boston Matrix

Boston Consulting came up with the amazing insight of dividing business activities into:
- cash cows - the products or services which make money
- (rising) stars - take up a lot of money to develop/run, bring in matching money only
- dogs - low cost, low income
- problem children - low income, high expenditure (drain on resources)
We haven't done the diagram for you, but imagine it within the 4 squares shown in Ansoff.

Again organisations are likely to have a mixture of these, with the key being to identify which is which and how to move them into a more positive category (or get rid of them - not so easy in the voluntary sector as you cant just sell off a 'under-performing' activity). You may want to turn the purely financial assessment into 'do they come up with valued services in respect to the time and/or money cost?'


Some other terms you might come across:

AIDA Awareness (or attention), Interest, Decision (or desire), Action. The stages of attracting someone to purchase or take some other action in an advertising campaign.

Cause related marketing (CRM - see below too!) A tie-in with a commercial company's promotion which is intended to add value to both organisations. The cause/organisation gains from exposure while the business gets more sales (it hopes). There can be downsides e.g. if the commercial partner gets bad press or has other activities which upset members or other stakeholders.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) One of those buzzwords (or rather phrases) which often appears to promise a lot and delivers little. Usually means building up a database of information on customers - their purchasing habits, interests as well as address details - so promotions can be better targeted and enquiries dealt with with greater focus on customer needs. Membership/ donor management software and systems are broadly comparable in voluntary sector marketing. Keep an eye out for what can be gleaned from commercial CRM developments, and hope that the software firms learn too.

KISS Keep it Short and Simple. General advice on getting a message across in most environments.

Viral marketing Using others (customers, contacts, 'opinion formers' etc) to relay your message to friends, colleagues. This has been particularly used in web or email approaches, trying to get page views by creating a 'cool' site.


See Marketing publications page.

Market Research Society 'The world's largest professional body for individuals employed in market research or with an interest in it'. 15 Northburgh Street, London, EC1V 0JR, phone 020 7490 4911, email:

British Market Research Association now part of MRS?

Brand Republic is the web presence drawing on Haymarket marketing titles.

Crossbow Research is a consultancy specialising in voluntary organisations, recommended in various places. Shawley House, 5 Shawley Way, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5NZ, phone 01737 358 077, email:

Hollis Sponsorship Newsletter News, Views and Analysis published 10 times a year on who, what, where, when, why and how much in sponsoring. £150 for not-for-profits, £225 others. Also publish Sponsorship Yearbook (£70 non-profits), Marketing Handbook (£65). Hollis Directories, Harlequin House, 7 High St, Teddington, Middx, TW11 8EL, phone 020 8977 7711, email: