Attn. Nonprofit Board Recruiters: Marketing & Sales Are Not The Same!

Attn. Nonprofit Board Recruiters: Marketing & Sales Are Not The Same!

By: Eugene Fram

What are the differences and what do these background differences mean when a nonprofit board concludes that a person with a “marketing background” needs to be added to a board. ! 

If the nonprofit board needs a person help define and/or segment a market, a director with a strong marketing resume is needed.  For example, if a teen social center finds that its clientele is shifting from one ethnic group to another, a marketing person can help with the research to determine the overall differences between the two groups.  Then a marketing plan can be established to show how the organization can help solve the problems being faced by the new ethnic group.

Assume the board has a good knowledge of its market but has a critical need for action in the fund development function, and then the need is for a director with a strong sales background.  This person can help with planning fund raising events, provide techniques for “making the ask,” educate senior management and directors on the fine points of presentations to senior business executives and, in general, help spark the fund development effort.  However, some of the suggestions might seem to be “outlandish” to a conservative nonprofit board.  For example, it took me two years to establish a highly successful annual fund raising dinner for a human service nonprofit.

Another background to consider is a person with a marketing communications (often called Marcom) person who can assist with the website, developing print promotions and advise on communications to stakeholders and staff. 

In nonprofit board recruiting, a person with “marketing” background can vary greatly.  Be sure to define specifications. 



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