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What is marketing for charities? Asked what marketing is, people respond with a variety of definitions.

Those developed in commercial settings often suggest that all relationships are about exchanges. However, an appropriate definition of marketing for charities must encompass ‘giving’, as well as the wider context of public benefit. So my working definition of marketing for charities is: Marketing denotes those co-ordinated actions that foster valuable relationships, gifts and exchanges through the conception, distribution, pricing and promotion of products. Valuable relationships, gifts and exchanges are those which satisfy the interests of the charity itself, and of individual and organisational stakeholders, and are of public benefit. Products involve ideas, services and goods. Compare this with a prominent general definition: “Marketing is a … process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging (my emphasis) products of value with others” (Philip Kotler). Exchange between buyers and sellers is indeed at the heart of commercial dealings in ‘market’ settings. Commerce involves exchanging money for goods or services, or sometimes bartering one set of goods and services for another. Yet an important aspect of the charity world, and indeed civil society, is the notion of ‘giving’. In its purest sense, if someone gives (for example perhaps to a relative on a birthday, or to a charity in a collecting box) they do not expect anything specific in return. There is not any exchange going on. People can and do give without expectation of something specific back. An appropriate definition of marketing for charities will honour this. It will not make everything about ‘exchange’ but encompass the importance of giving. Elaboration and use of such a conception of marketing in charities requires attention to various sets of concepts: interests, needs, wants, demands; services, ideas, goods, products, offerings; price and cost, benefits, value and satisfaction; gifts, exchanges, transactions; relationships and networks; arenas and markets. Something we might call the charity marketing idea would this: the idea that to achieve success in charities it is essential to be good at co-ordinating and integrating marketing activities with a view to determining and satisfying in the short and long-run the interests, needs and wants of stakeholders and target markets, in ways which express the organisation’s values and are of public benefit. To execute this wide range of activities well requires the development and management of marketing strategies and plans. This encompasses the analysis and selection of the groups or sub-groupings of individuals and/or organisations the charity wants to reach – target groups and target markets. It involves creating and maintaining an appropriate marketing mix that will satisfy those people: a blending of the elements of conception, distribution, pricing and promotion. It involves executing the plans.

These in turn require managers in charities to focus on several marketing activities: analysing opportunities and markets, and selecting target groups and markets; developing the appropriate marketing mix; accomplishing and managing the ‘marketing’. Analysing opportunities and markets, and selecting target groups and markets involves: noticing and analysing opportunities in the ‘marketing environment’ (a particular take on the relevant external arena and world) – this includes general identification and analysis of competitors; evaluating possible target markets; understanding specific customer and stakeholder behaviour; marketing research and creating relevant information systems, including about performance and behaviour or competitors and collaborators. Developing the appropriate marketing mix: making decisions about what ideas, goods and services and designing them; similarly about ‘distribution’ and making ideas, services and products accessible (of course seeking commissions through tendering is one channel….); similarly about promotion; similarly about pricing. Managing the marketing and its execution: creating implementation plans; implementation, monitoring and performance measurement and judgement; evaluation and learning and adaptation … concern for efficiency, efficacy and effectiveness. Developing the appropriate marketing mix includes: Conceiving ideas, services, and goods (products) Distributing and giving access Promoting Pricing This categorisation is closely related to the classic 4Ps favoured by conventional formulations of marketing: Product, Place, Promotion and Price. But, tempting though the single first letter approach is, I seek to use a language which more adequately captures the activities in a charity context. Conceiving products: create and test new activities, ideas, services and goods; modify existing ones; eliminate those that do not or no longer satisfy stakeholders interests or advance the organisation’s interests and goals; branding and formulation of names and visual designs; creating underpinning ‘guarantees’ of service etc and fulfilling them; planning of ‘packaging’ and physical manifestations of services (including venues and places etc). Distributing and giving access: analyse possible ‘channels’ for distribution, making ideas, goods and services accessible and available, and enabling people and organisations to get involved; invent new channels; design effective programmes for relationships with ‘agents’, dealers, resellers, consultants and other collaborators who make use of your ‘offerings’ and make them available to others; formulating and implementing effective procedures for efficient handling of goods and creation of services (including

events, and courses, and conferences); minimising total distribution costs; analysing possible places for making available the organisation’s work. Promoting: set promotional objectives; determine forms of promotion to use; select and schedule advertising; develop messages; measure and judge the effectiveness of promotion; (recruit and) train those who ’sell’ and promote; establish territories by geography or other criteria, that individuals and teams are responsible for; plan and implement all manner of promotional efforts – such as free material and ’samples’, displays; doing press releases and media work. Pricing: analyse competitor’s prices; formulate pricing policies (including re ‘free’ material, discounting … and about whether such as loss leading, or full cost recovery, or surplus generating; establish conditions and rules of ’sale’. ____________________ Note: While the attempts to make ideas specifically relevant to charity management are mine, the general propositions about marketing and key activities draws heavily on two of my much thumbed marketing textbooks: Dibbs, Simkin, Pride and Ferrell. Marketing (European Edition). Houghton Mifflin. 1991; Kotler. Marketing Management 9th Edition Prentice Hall. 1997