How Non-Profits think like For-Profits

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 9 years ago

Here are my slides from Connect Now in Sydney today. The topic is: “How Non-profits think like For Profits”. I’m sharing these here because I want the seminar to be a creative exchange rather than a lecture. To that end I’ve collected a lot of examples of best practices in the social change space and included links for each for deeper inquiry. That way we can interact and see how we can best achieve our goals.

My aim is to provide an overview of the different ways social problems are being addressed by for-profit and non-profit brands to show how dynamic, malleable and exciting this field is. I believe that with enough creativity and new technology tools there’s almost nothing we can’t achieve.

For-profit brands are primed to become conscionable partners as consumers demand transparency, accountability and contribution from them. And non-profits have tools to build proactive communities that they never had before.

So please take a look, I hope it’s useful and fire away with any questions.


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  1. Simon, good presentation. One of the challenges non-profits face is that they always start up to fill an unfilled need in the community. That's their raison d'etre and they're driving force in the beginning. But once they get up and running and have a few years under their belt, they're main focus in survival, in keeping the operations running, thus the focus on fundraising. When the mindset shifts from filling the need to keeping the lights on, that's where the creativity starts disappearing.

    Almost every non-profit I've worked with or for runs into this, and it's a hard habit to break. Hopefully your presentation will help shift NPs back to their roots.

  2. Thanks so much, Rich. Non-profits do such amazing work and no amount of wishing can change the reality of challenges they face each day. My hope is that we all open ourselves up to collaboration and partnership, in and outside the non-profit sector, to get them the help they need and the synergy of skills and solutions. Together we'll get there. Thanks, Mike

  3. Avatar mikescheiner says:

    Absolutely love this presentation Simon, and thank you for posting. So agree with you on the various channels and points of engagement. As per your examples, I'm not sure many people have thought through the many ways you can engage and “create value” for your brand or cause. Additionally, as you state up front, the significance of mobile within the non-profit area is huge. Especially due to its convenience and cultural shift of texting to a number where you could make a donation without having to enter in a credit card. This area for both non and for profit will only continue to evolve.

  4. Thanks, Mike. Yes, my hope was to inspire marketers in the social space creatively. There is so much meaningful work being done but we should never underestimate the power of a new or great idea. The people I've met have been so fantastic and seem ready to go for it. It all bodes very well for the future. Thanks for the feedback, Simon

  5. […] The first aspect I want to highlight was the theme itself: ‘Embracing Uncertainty’. This phrase encapsulates the mindset demanded of brands by ever-changing technology and consumer dynamics. As such it was incredibly effective at getting their executives to move past the “why” of change to the ‘”how”. (If you work with non-profits, I wrote an equivalent here.) […]

  6. […] knew who anyone was and everyone came from different background. The point was to generate new and numerous ideas by getting people to collaborate around shared […]

  7. […] coming together to see what positive change they can create. (I explore examples of ways to do this here that may be […]