New workbook gives advice to non-profits


November 11, 1991|By LESTER A. PICKER

"To market, to market," urges an old nursery rhyme, but not many non-profits heed that advice.

I've addressed the issue of marketing non-profits many times in this column and in talks to non-profit groups. And, just when I thought I was a voice in the wilderness, an absolutely wonderful little book -- a workbook actually -- arrives on the scene and drives the marketing message home in a unique and compelling way.

Marketing Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations. Appropriately, this book was produced by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation of St. Paul, Minn. The foundation, whose goal is to provide "human services responsive to the welfare needs of the community," has been around for more than 80 years and is central to the enormous success that non-profits enjoy in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Author Gary Stern and designer Rebecca Andrews have accomplished the remarkable: creating a lively, well-written and practical guide to marketing non-profit organizations and programs. How many other marketing books could venture to say, "This workbook is meant to welcome you to [the world of marketing] in a friendly and informative way"?

The softcover workbook progresses through a series of easy-to-understand explanations and marketing exercises, so managers who are novices to marketing can follow along easily. But unlike so many books for beginners, this little jewel is neither insulting nor esoteric. The exercises can be done alone (not recommended) or in a group (preferred).

One of the many helpful touches in the book is the use of a distinctive box at the beginning of each chapter which states: "You are in the right place in this book if . . . " Under this phrase, the author lists a set of conditions. The reader can glance at the list and decide whether to work through that chapter or to skip it.

Each chapter includes examples of concepts in action, along with all the forms and exercises needed to successfully master those concepts. Within each chapter, the forms have been filled in by the author, using real-life examples. However, all the blank forms can be found at the end of the book, so readers can lTC develop their own marketing plans.

The Appendices, rich in ideas for implementing a new marketing plan, include an annotated list of promotional techniques, tips on how to conduct market research, a resource list, and ways to brainstorm.

One reservation I have about this nifty work is that it is too short. In many places, I felt that a marketing novice would want additional information. Also, because an introductory work needs be simple, I am concerned that novices might think they have all the tools needed to make a thorough marketing analysis, to develop a plan, to implement it and to evaluate the results.

Some smaller non-profits may, indeed, be able to do all that if they are otherwise in good shape. However, if difficulties arise, it would be helpful to have an experienced marketer available as a resource.

Despite these minor concerns, I strongly recommend the work to any non-profit organization. Marketing Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations is available from A.H. Wilder Foundation/MSS, 919 Lafond Avenue, St. Paul, Minn., 55104. Single copies are $25, plus $2 for shipping.

Council on Foundations. Over the past few months, I was given the opportunity to review a series of publications put out by the Council on Foundations, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit established to help private, public and corporate foundations and other grant-making programs throughout this and several foreign countries. This organization is an excellent resource for those contemplating establishing a foundation, as well as for active foundations.

The list of publications from the Council is very comprehensive. Individual topics cover the entire field of grant-making, from setting up a foundation to operations, management and evaluation. There is even a separate six-part series of pamphlets community foundations, their governance and operations.

In addition, frequent papers, which explain emerging issues, help members understand and prepare for trends. Rounding out the many books and publications is a newsletter and a highly regarded bimonthly magazine entitled Foundation News.

I was particularly impressed with a thoughtful and understated work called "Philanthropy and the Black Church," edited by the Rev. Alicia D. Byrd.

In combating problems associated with socioeconomic status, federal programs and other many groups have ignored the impact that the black church has on black culture. Eager to avoid any appearance of supporting church activities, many federal programs have shot themselves in the foot by neglecting to involve black churches in community development programs. This nicely edited work shows the folly of such moves.

It is encouraging to see that recent programs, such as Baltimore's Nehemiah low-income housing program, weave the black church into the fabric of the project.

The Council of Foundations can be reached at 1828 L St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-5168; (202) 466-6512.

Les Picker, a consultant in the field of philanthropy, works with charitable organizations and for-profit companies.

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