At my internship with EgoPo Classical Theater this summer, I have had an eye-opening experience with the business model of non-profits, especially in terms of their advertising.
Most of the time as advertisers we will be working with for-profit businesses–unless you are like me and really enjoy community involvement and socially-oriented projects. Non-profits are like for-profit businesses, except with respect to their end-game goals. Where regular businesses work towards a revenue stream with no discernible end in sight, non-profits are essentially just working to break even at the end of the fiscal year. And if you have ever spent any time volunteering with one or know someone who does, you’ll know that this usually happens by the skin of their teeth. Non-profits spend a lot of their time subsidizing part of their costs of operation by applying for grants; these can be federal or state grants, or donations from organizations like the Wyncote Foundation, who exist to help out other worthy organizations. This process, as I have learned with EgoPo, is pretty much like applying for scholarships, and often includes an essay and samples of the work the non-profit produces.
This is where Advertisers could be an invaluable resource. Can you imagine how useful it would have been to know how to sell yourself as an industrious and deserving student in the copy of your college applications? Because we know branding, we are better able to present a whole, unique and interesting package to the board members who are in charge of awarding grants–and get the word out to regular members of the community who can donate their time or money. When it comes to samples of work we can create websites that pop, or video montages that could reduce them to tears of joy. This is a field that sorely needs us, because without non-profits and other community oriented programs for disadvantaged adults, children and even animals, the nation would lose its heart. And when non-profits have a good brand, they can do amazing things: just think of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation that has been able to donate $1.9 billion to breast cancer research, or the historic Red Cross and YMCA. And then there is Heifer International, a non-profit that works to end famine in areas across the world through the donation of livestock, (please visit their website, it is utterly adorable).
Advertising is often seen as a soul-stealing business. This is one of the ways that we can overturn this stigma and help people see that Advertising can help anyone and everyone.