You Need Relationship Marketing

You Need Relationship Marketing

Of all the organizations out there, the ones driving social change have the most to gain from leveraging Relationship Marketing strategies.

We’re talking to you, nonprofits and social enterprises.

Marketing can be complex (it’s often confused with advertising and sales) so let’s take a step back and take marketing out of the equation for a minute to simplify our argument.

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Relationships are essential in your line of work.

Nonprofits, your noble mission and existence depends on the support of individuals in the community. Building genuine relationships with those individuals isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity.

Social enterprises, you’re finding creative solutions to improve the world for people, animals, and the planet itself. You better believe that human relationships are important toward achieving this lofty goal.

It makes a lot of sense for your marketing to also be about relationships, right?

Your work is too important to invest in anything other than authentic, genuine connections with people who can support you, whether that be through purchases, donations, volunteering, or simply helping you spread your message. 

Let’s dig a little deeper to see how Relationship Marketing can help.


Nonprofits need Relationship Marketing because the stakes are high and the margin for error is small. Without the support of the community through donations, memberships, purchases, and volunteers nonprofits couldn’t exist.

You know the importance of these supporters and work your tail off to maintain and grow that support, but your hands are tied with limited budgets and resources. 

Look, we get it. We know nonprofits because we come from nonprofits. 

From our experience, this intense pressure tends to result in short-sighted campaigns and missed opportunities. Marketing efforts are driven by an immediate need, creating one-time engagements but often missing the chance to continue building connections with people. All the pieces are there, but they’re not connected.

When nonprofits embrace a Relationship Marketing approach, strategies become more holistic and integrated and therefore more cost-effective. When the goal is laser-focused on building genuine relationships with people, it’s easy to cut any efforts that aren’t working toward that goal.

This approach results in a holistic strategy and also benefits the budget! Some of the best tools for connecting and engaging with people (email, social media) are also inexpensive.

As people grow more invested in the nonprofit mission through engagement with these tools, the support grows with it. 

Relationship Marketing is a win-win-win for nonprofits. Aligned strategies, trimmed budgets, increased support? We say heck yes. 

Social Enterprises

“Social entrepreneurs… are disrupting traditional approaches and forcing new conversations about what makes the best approach to problem solving. … They are borrowing from the best of the for-profits. And by doing so, they are creating a new foundation for success.”

We love this definition from The Business of Good by Jason Haber. As a fledgling social enterprise ourselves, we designed our Relationship Marketing strategy as a solution to what hasn’t been working for nonprofits. 

We see this approach benefiting social enterprises as well.

A lot of social enterprises find themselves in the same tight spot as nonprofits, investing every penny in the product or service that is going to better the world…but what of the marketing?

Is the priority to connect with individuals and gain supporters as important as the work you are doing? We argue yes!

You’re trying to maximize your impact as much as your profit. When impact is measured in human terms, the strength of your relationships becomes one of your most valuable resources for expanding that impact.

You need relationship marketing to grow and scale your business while deepening and expanding its reach.

Here’s the bottom line for nonprofits and social enterprises:

The foundation of an individual’s commitment to you is built on trust and buy-in. Just like relationships between people, trust doesn’t come from  a single interaction – a print ad or a last-minute email. Cultivating authentic connections requires careful consideration, multiple touch-points, and time for growth.

Relationship Marketing is the perfect approach for nonprofits and social enterprises to nurture the altruistic support that ultimately serves the larger mission of the organization. 

Why not try it out for yourself and see what we mean? We have developed a couple worksheets to help nonprofits and social enterprises take advantage of our approach.