My easy 5 for-profit tactics for nonprofits

6 Nov


Much is written and many debates occur around the issue of “should nonprofits behave like for-profit companies”. I read most of the articles and follow the debates. Most of the talk and debate centers on how much should be spent and invested in a nonprofit’s pursuit of their stated mission.

If a nonprofit spends too much they are seen (rightly so when you hear of a nonprofit spending 90% of donations received on “administration”) as unworthy no matter how noble their mission may seem. Spend too little and you will likely endure high employee turnover, low brand awareness and perhaps find yourself with few donors and a mission yet-to-be accomplished, if ever.

I look at this and were I to interject myself into the debate I would ask if how much is spent is the only gauge on which this issue of a nonprofit acting like a for-profit hinges on.

So, here I go. For me, this isn’t the only metric-far from it. You see, for-profit entities have a stable of social and mobile tactics they rely on that can be easily adopted by any nonprofit.

Here are my 5 easy for-profit tactics for nonprofits living and adjusting to our new mobile-centric, social media-infused, digital age.


If you are not using social media do as Beth Kanter says: “Make time.” Do it now. If you are worried about somebody saying something bad about you guess what? Social media can help avoid this by helping you project your mission, tell success stories and engage all supporters no matter what they have to say. In the vacuum of you not being on social media your message gets made up for you. Better to be there than not being there. This is why for-profit businesses use social media to great effect.


This one’s a big one. Google’s algorithm now takes into consideration if you have a mobile destination when it presents your search rank to mobile users. The upshot is that without a full optimized mobile destination your search rank will suffer. The tactic that the for-profit world uses is a redirect of mobile traffic that comes to their PC site. They direct mobile traffic to their PC site instead to their mobile site. (We love mentioning that this should be a RAZ Mobile site.)

If you don’t do this there is a wheelbarrow full of research that suggests mobile visitors to your PC site won’t wait for it to load and they really don’t like spending their time pinching and swiping around the screen to figure out what’s on your page.

The for-profit world serves mobile visitors with a great experience since they know they stand a way better chance at engagement and a sale. For nonprofits this means more loyal supporters leading to (hopefully) more donations.


In the for-profit world they ask themselves “what are we making our customers do to engage and buy from us? What makes their experience a great one?”

Many nonprofits I’ve talked to have never seen their PC site on a mobile phone and they certainly haven’t asked themselves “would I give via this page I can’t read on my phone?”.

I’ve seen page after page of fields to complete on PC donation pages I’ve examined on my phone and it reinforces the metric stated in one report that 50% of potential donors give up when trying to give via their mobile phone to a site meant for a PC. It’s too hard is what they say. Don’t make it hard to be a supporter. Put yourself in their shoes.

Please look at what you ask your supporters do and ask yourself if you would do what you ask them to do.


A constant goal for a for-profit is to have customers become brand “ambassadors”. They want their customers to say nice things about their business. Apple gives out stickers of their logo. Others make it easy to share where you’re shopping like 4square.

Point being is that if research says your supporter’s ask is 90% more effective than yours you had better be inviting them to be your nonprofit’s brand ambassadors. Add to this the datapoint that 70% of millennials WANT TO FUNDRAISE for you with their friends, family and social network. This can be some of the easiest donations you’ve ever generated and chances are most of these could be brand new donors. WOW!


Now is the time on the mobile and social age we live in to find out what works and doesn’t work because, and you have to accept this, our world is already very much dominated by mobile and social. Very soon, if you are simply relying on what appeals to senior donors you will not have the knowledge set of mobile and social at hand when you need it.

Other causes are competing for new, hopefully-about-to-become-high-net-worth donors of the future and without mobile and social skills and tactics you’ll be playing catch up.

In summary, watch business tactics and not the never-ending debate about your nonprofit’s cost structure. By adopting these 5 easy for-profit tactics you’ll be a hero to your cause and the concerns about the other metric will become less nettlesome for your nonprofit. Your success in mobile and social will dominate the conversation and position you very well for the future that’s already here.

One Response to “My easy 5 for-profit tactics for nonprofits”

  1. Zombie Lane Cash Hack September 7, 2014 at 1:28 PM #

    Good blog you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find quality wriiting like yours nowadays.

    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

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