Do Non-Profits Have an Unfair Advantage with Social Media Marketing?

by Matthew O'Brien on October 19, 2010

This presentation is a follow up from 2009’s Arizona Coalition to End Homeless Conference. On October 15th, 2010, the presentation below was given to Maricopa Association of Governments and the many non-profits across Arizona that shared the morning with me to learn how to leverage social media to help the poor, the hungry, the homeless and to reach people in crisis across Arizona.

The first thing to note is that non-profit organizations have an advantage over other businesses when it comes to social media marketing. The reason is simple; non-profit organizations have a common mission for helping those in need. Therefore, their marketing message is altruistic and does not need to be modified to fit what social media demands (selfless promotion vs. shameless self-promotion). For example, a business that takes their brochure content and promotes it through their social media channels will most certainly get a much lower level of engagement with their audience and run the risk of being perceived as a self serving marketer. Contrary to this is the non-profit that typically has a mission of serving those in need and can utilize their ‘off the shelf’ marketing content because it has a more selfless message for helping others. Isn’t this what social media marketing is all about by having a third party promoting a message to benefit another?

I had the pleasure of attending a special mass and luncheon for the upcoming Annual St. Vincent de Paul, “Restoring Hope through Faith and Love” breakfast fundraiser on November 19th, 2010 and was enlightened with these words that an attendee of the lunch shared with me (via Deepak Chopra from his recent Phoenix visit).

The Formula for Happiness (by Deepak Chopra)

  • 50% is a result of our first three years of life (based on external factors; particularly the people that we were around during that time)
  • 10% is based on the conditions of your life (Are you rich or poor? Does your environment fit your lifestyle? Are you secure?)
  • 40% is based the choices we make each day (making you feel good, helping others, etc.)

So why did I get off on this tangent? It looks like we could all be a lot happier by giving back to our community and helping organizations that you share a common passion with because 50% of our happiness was determined a long time ago and we tend to spend most of our time working on the 10% that has a nominal impact on our happiness.

Find a cause that you care about and get involved. If you need a push, mark your calendar for November 19th (7:30am-9am). Last year over 2,000 people dedicated their time and helped raise over $750,000 for St. Vincent de Paul. Learn more…


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Non-Profit Social Media Strategy for Tucson Coalition to End Homelessness Annual Conference
September 26, 2012 at 8:55 am

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Samuel October 19, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Nice article Matthew. Other than an altruistic message, I think the only social media advantage one person or company can have over another is more marketing knowledge.


Matthew O'Brien October 19, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Great point Robert…knowledge channeled in the right direction is powerful. Thanks for sharing!


Garious October 20, 2010 at 8:07 am

I have a friend who’s into non-profits and I think I’ll share this information just to convince him that he needs to tap the power of the crowd and involve them in his cause. I guess, many non profit organizations are not into social media simply because they misunderstood it in the first place; it’s not all about alter egos and fluff.


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