NGO marketing

According to a study by the University of Extremadura, Marketing for NGOs is growing permanently since 80s, these organizations are becoming aware of how important is this sector to achieve their main objectives. Marketing is important for many objectives like attract new members, raise awareness or make themselves known. This study is focused NGOs Marketing action as well as the current tendencies of non profit organizations.


Since the 80s there has been an explosive growth of organizations who have something in common: their non-profit nature. These data were analyzed by the “Coordinator of Non-Governmental Organizations for the Development of Spain” (CONGDE).

Since 2000, the awereness of responsibility of these associations began to grow and the need for qualified people that can handle it in a professional way.

"As non-profit organizations serve to respond to the needs of society and these needs evolve, they must also change"
Alfred Vernis Domenech
PHD Public and non profit management

Regarding the main differences that must be considered when applying Marketing, we highlight the following:


As the number of NGOs increases, competition for funding also increases. One solution to this is Marketing.

There are not many organizations that are oriented to the “consumer”, which is the main topic of the study that was investigated “What an NGO understands about Marketing”
When talking about Non-Business Marketing is talking about Non-profit Marketing, this is the way how NGOs use the concept of marketing.

Non-Profit Marketing is defined as a set of exchange activities, basically services and ideas, which are carried out mainly by non-profit institutions (public or private), with the aim of improving the level of satisfaction with the agents who they have relationship. (SANTESMASES, 1999). 

Non-Profit Marketing has differences with the Marketing for companies, therefore requires an adaptation, this implies to analyze its market, resources and objectives.
Many NGOs refuse to do marketing as a mercantilist, creator of materialistic and artificial needs. They believe that the reputation of their company can be harmed.
However many associations do Marketing without realizing, and associate it to the communication. The 4P model is very often used in non-profit marketing.

The use of advertising seems evident in these organizations, in Spain a code of conduct has been made that affects the communicative guidelines, advertising and use of images, coordinated by CONGDE to avoid the continuation of tough awareness campaigns.

Internet has led to Digital Marketing for NGOs, to make themselves known regardless of their location, giving them the possibility of action at a global level, getting more strength, and the possibility of reaching more people or donors.


"As non-profit organizations serve to respond to the needs of society and these needs evolve, they must also change"
Antonio García-Santesmases
Spanish philosopher and politician

According to the research:

Only 37% of the NGOs ever did some activities related to Marketing.

These campaigns were developed:

  • In 43% by the Marketing Department
  • In a 38% by the Management
  • In 19% by professionals outside of the organization


The most used Marketing tool in order from highest to lowest:

  • Promotion,
  • Product.
  • Square
  • Price (for the difficulty of establishing a fixed price for solidarity or cooperation)


The objectives sought through Marketing are:

  • 84%: make theirrself known
  • 74%: increase donations
  • 63%: awareness campaigns
  • 42%: aims to create image of the organization
  • 19%: know the needs of customers.


So there, seems to be a lack of “market orientation” of Spanish NGOs and an excessive orientation towards the product and advertising.

Thus, marketing is considered as a solution to their problems, the main limitations are:

  • The initial rejection
  • Lack of knowledge and experience
  • A Misconception of Marketing

The following graphs demonstrate the changes that are occurring in these organizations, with respect to their components and funding.

This activity shows that NGOs are becoming an important source of work.

NGOs are funded from these different sources:

And 60% consider the need to provide information to all its members


  • If the objective of an NGO is to promote social welfare, no other type of institution will want more than an NGO to know the needs of its market, in order to serve it more efficiently. Therefore, there should be more market orientation and a motivation to apply the current concept of Marketing.


  • In the small space between the two studies, there have been some striking changes: the term Marketing no longer provokes a majority rejection and NGOs are adopting a positive attitude towards marketing. In addition, there is a greater degree of professionalization in the non-profit sector: avery NGOs have volunteers, but also paid staff and the requirements for working in an NGO are increasing.


  • A market-oriented, not product-oriented, vision of marketing is not only not contradictory to the ideals of NGOs, but will certainly help them to improve their efficiency and overcome the competition they face, because it represents an aid to improve the interchanges they realize, in such a way that they are more beneficial for both parties.

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