Originally printed in The Appleton Post Crescent, April 13, 2014.

Marketing professionals are often approached by non-profit organizations seeking pro-bono creative and promotional services. Most of us understand that non-profits are strapped for time and resources, and we appreciate the hard work these organizations do for the greater good.

In order to provide some general marketing assistance to all non-profits, here are some tips to keep in mind when tackling your organization’s marketing and before reaching out for help:

Marketing is marketing is marketing. Whether you are a non-profit or for-profit company, large corporation or small business, the same marketing fundamentals apply. Your organization is your primary brand. Start by defining its architecture. Determine all of your potential audiences, and research what other similar groups (or competitors) are doing. Figure out your brand’s attributes, promise, positioning, personality and touchpoints. You can’t build a house without a foundation, so lay the groundwork first. If you aren’t comfortable doing this on your own, consider seeking professional brand development services. It’s an investment that is sure to reap huge returns.

Engage your audiences and stakeholders. In order to stand out and be successful, no matter the form your marketing takes, it needs to be engaging. What is it about a particular ad or brochure that will get someone to stop and spend more than three seconds reading its content, and even more so, take your desired action? Spend some time looking at ads and other marketing material that has caused you to pay attention, and figure out why it captured your interest. This might help inspire ideas for your organization’s marketing efforts.

Non-profit is a tax status, not a goal. It is imperative to understand this difference. While an organization may be tax-exempt, it is still a business that seeks to be profitable. Take cues from for-profit companies—create a perceived value for your organization, and in turn, generate revenue and donations.

Be prepared before you ask for help. When you do need to reach out for creative strategy assistance, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Have a specific focus and be able to clearly articulate what you are requesting. Sharing your mission, vision and goals is extremely helpful in providing guidance to a marketing firm, so it can be most effective in helping you.

Now that you’ve read the tips, I have some good news. Coalesce Marketing is hosting its first 24-hour marketing and design workathon for a to-be-determined local non-profit. We’ve dubbed the event 2GETHER•4GOOD, and it will take place from noon Thursday, May 22, 2014 to noon Friday, May 23, 2014. During this time, our eight employees will work non-stop to create marketing materials and creative deliverables for the awarded non-profit.

If your non-profit organization is interested in applying for 2GETHER•4GOOD, visit www.2gether4good.com and fill out the online application. More information can also be found on the website. Applications are due Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

Annie Mares is an account manager at Coalesce Marketing. She can be reached at 920-380-4444 or annie@coalescemarketing.com.