Do secular marketing principles work with non-profit organizations, i.e, churches, ministries, religious colleges, universities, etc.?
Yes and no.
Of course they do what they are designed to do—bring maximum profits to the bottom line. But is that the mission of non-profit organizations?
Non-profit (non profit, not-for-profit) organizations must distinguish between fiscal responsibility and selling their fundamental mission for a mess of pottage.
For instance, Christian universities, colleges and schools should not be in the business of selling education. When schools employ the prevailing marketing principles, they end up turning students into customers (or educational consumers), rather than teaching students to love and pursue knowledge and truth because of their inherent value. When faculty become salesmen and students become customers, knowledge and truth are sacrificed on the altar of sensitivity in the effort to not offend or challenge the values of the student. Customers don’t like to be offended (or challenged).
Non-profits have a purpose other than maximizing profits. So, the design and principles used in non profit marketing need to cooperate with the fundamental purpose, principles and values of the organization. The danger of marketing creep is very real.
Of course, secular marketing principles can be adapted to work with non-profits. But isn’t it better to design the principles to more effectively accomplish the mission of the organization? Of course it is. Let’s talk.