- Tue, February 26 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
A couple of months ago, Erick Brownstein of Ideablob.com wrote me with an interesting question: Are the challenges of how to start, run and develop small nonprofits different than those of the small business owner?
He thinks not. Here’s what he said:
Just as the vast majority of small businesses in the US are really ‘micro’ businesses with less than five employees, nearly 80% of the approximately 1.5 million US nonprofits have less than $100k in assets and/or revenues. Oftentimes, it’s one person running the show and these individuals are seeking support for issues ranging from health insurance to marketing to technology. Regarding what’s necessary for success, there are far more similarities than differences between the small nonprofit and the small business.
Advanta Bank recently launched Ideablob.com, an online community where people from diverse industries with different interests can help each other grow and develop their ideas…with a $10,000 monthly prize for the idea that the community votes as the best.
Originally conceived as a place for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the site has been attracting significant participation from small nonprofits. But what’s in it for them? Vying for the monthly prize offers a fun and engaging way to get feedback from supporters as well as other ideablob community members. In addition to the chance to win the money, these finalists (with Advanta’s support) have generated significant publicity for themselves. Several of the finalists have been nonprofits and last month’s second $10k ‘best idea’ winner was Marci Bossow Schankweiler, president and founder of Crossing the Finish Line (CFL), a PA-based small nonprofit that provides excursions for young adult cancer patients and their families.
“If a company can do something that is good for its customers, that in turn is good for the company.” For Advanta, this is an experiment in the new landscape of social media where clearly defined business models aren’t yet established. For those who run small nonprofits and small businesses, Ideablob is an experiment in exploring the value of openly sharing new ideas with a wide range of people and their varied perspectives and an interesting tool for promotion and engagement.
I think this is quite wise marketing on the part of Advanta, and I’m intrigued by what Erick says. When I was writing Robin Hood Marketing, I often turned for inspiration to marketing writers who catered to small businesses. Like Duct Tape Marketing. I think Erick is right that we—small business and nonprofits—have a lot to learn from each other. Here’s some evidence: someone posting an idea and the responses they got.
And apparently nonprofits have some good ideas: 7 of 8 of this month’s finalists are nonprofits. Try it out.