Frenemy Tactics

May 4, 2020

Frenemy Tactics

Drew Train

Nonprofits are in a marketing war (see Cola Wars) with one another as they fight for the attention, affinity, actions and cold hard cash of Americans in a radically different consumer landscape. And you, the marketing department, are in the cockpit. Sure, you may collaborate with lots of organizations in your space to serve your constituents; that’s great for the program teams, the constituents and the world. But you work in marketing, and I have to ask: Are those other groups really your friends?

No. But, enemies isn’t exactly fair either. So, they’re frenemies. And they are a force to be reckoned with. And it’s not just your frenemies. You and your colleagues in the marketing department are under attack from all sides. Most likely, your department is poorly equipped, underfunded and disempowered. The organization as a whole probably lacks institutional knowledge of, and experience with, how marketing works financially, operationally and in delivering on the mission. And let’s face it, you probably don’t have all the right people on your team.

Beyond that, the high profile success of Charity: Water, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and Bernie’s $27 Army has convinced board members that you should be able to simply Kickstarter your way to $5 million in online fundraising by having your unpaid summer intern create “viral campaigns,” because millennials “do social media all day.” It isn’t pretty.


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