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Marketing the sale of “nothing” in a product-filled world




The challenge of selling a feeling not selling a product


After a career spent split between the corporate and not for profit sectors, Conchita Casteigt is pleased to report there’s now less difference between them.


“The big difference is asking people to part with their money just to feel. In the not for profit sector it’s still selling, but it’s selling to make people feel good about themselves.

“In the last 15 years not for profits have become more commercially focused.”


Casteigt worked for large multinationals like Johnson and Johnson and Hasbro before moving into not for profits, firstly for Life Education, and then the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the highly successful Steptember campaigns supported by The Media Precinct.

Having begun in not for profits 15 years ago, Casteigt is now General Manager Marketing and Fundraising Ronald McDonald House.


She says marketing now has an important place in not for profits, but it wasn’t always the case.

“I think people today expect that charities follow business principles and data and invest in those processes.

“But 15 years ago a lot of not for profits had to have it explained to them why they needed marketing.

“If anything people were focused too internally.

“We are after all selling a concept; we are selling something; we have to market this.”


Marketing for not for profit success


Casteigt says the marketing principles that guide many in corporate life resonate in the not for profit environment, with a few caveats.


“So there is still selling, but its selling a feelgood factor. And there are audiences, but they’re actually donors.

“The fundraising environment is so competitive and you even though I hate the word, you have to be agile.”


Casteigt cites the Steptember campaign for Cerebral Palsy Alliance run against the backdrop of COVID lockdowns and economic uncertainty as an example of where fundraising has to target, adapt and change its messaging quicker than traditional campaigns.


“The circumstances we faced really changed the world of fundraising that year.

“There are so many people being asked for so much money. You can be targeted and authentic and think about the causes that your audience is going to respond to.


“Donors, whether individuals or companies are interested in impact.

“The impact a donation will have on society is a much stronger message than trying to guilt people.”


A cautionary tale for corporates (and fundraisers)


Casteigt has seen the move by big corporates to align themselves with charitable causes and critics calling out virtue signaling, but says fundraisers have a significant role to play to ensure good partnerships are formed.


“It’s difficult for companies to find the right causes, so fundraisers have a responsibility to help them find the right cause to align with.


“What works really well is finding an affinity to a cause. What a lot of corporates are doing is asking their employees. They are putting it back on the very people they need to be authentic with.”


Knowing the audience and building a partnership is key to not for profit success


While one off disasters like floods and fires may secure one off donations, Casteigt says building a long term relationship with the audience is critical.


She says getting a balance between the campaign need and explaining the positive outcome if that need is met is really important.


“You want long term relationships and donors who are almost a part of our organisation, an advocate for the organisation, and to do that you need to show the impact of them partnering with you.”


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