By Jeff Kline


The Best of 2013: 5 Inspiring Nonprofit Marketing Moments

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Before we reach the end of 2013, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the year’s greatest nonprofit marketing initiatives. Not only will these inspire you, but they might also give you some ideas for marketing and promoting your own organization.

Enjoy these five inspiring nonprofit marketing moments from 2013! 

Make-A-Wish Foundation: Bat Kid

Bat Kid was one of the most inspirational stories of 2013—a five-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia wished to be Batman, the citizens of San Francisco came together to make his dream come true, and (by documenting the entire day in real time via Twitter) the whole world was able to watch the amazing day unfold.

A social media marketing agency called Clever Girls Collective helped the Make-A-Wish Foundation spread the word about Bat Kid on Twitter. The Make-A-Wish Twitter account, @SFWish, and the #SFBatKid hashtag were used to begin promoting the project.

"It wasn't long before we were getting e-mails and tweets from all over the world, people saying that they were so glad they could participate in this event thanks to social media," said agency founder Stefania Pomponi. "It's been amazing. It's truly developed a life of its own."

To learn how Clever Girls Collective made the Bat Kid story an Internet sensation—and to get some ideas for promoting your own organization’s events—check out their op-ed on

The Lesson: The best way to make your cause go viral? Tell an incredible story.


Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce: The Soundtrack Project

It’s not often that a chamber of commerce wins an Emmy. But early in 2013, the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce received three Mid-South Emmy Awards for The Soundtrack Project, a series of eight mini documentaries that demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit of Memphis.

The Chamber worked with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to bring the stories of local entrepreneurs to life. 

In the press release announcing the awards, Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO John Moore said, “These multimedia movements serve as both a local point of pride and as a snapshot of Memphis’s business community for a global audience. You really get a sense of the authentic and determined spirit of Memphis’ small business owners when you watch each video.”

See for yourself what makes these videos so powerful.

The Lesson: Two heads are better than one—leverage your local resources and relationships to create something remarkable.


Greater Louisville Association of Realtors: Internet Café for members

Though it’s really more of a member retention initiative than a marketing strategy, the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors (GLAR) sure is doing it right.

In June of this year, GLAR converted some extra space at their headquarter facility into an Internet café—a place where on-the-go members could meet with clients or just drop in to do some work. 

GLAR Internet Cafe

“We recognize, with real estate professionals, a lot of the time they’re meeting at Starbucks or Panera with clients,” said GLAR Executive Vice President Lisa Stephenson. “Meanwhile, we’re pretty centrally located and have this nice facility, so we wanted to find a way to make it more user-friendly and make it a benefit for our members.”

The meeting space includes wireless printers, a few PCs, tables and a barstool area with plenty of outlets.

The Internet café is a great benefit to members, but it also provides GLAR staff with more opportunities to chat with members and build stronger relationships.

The Lesson: Strive to serve your members on the highest level possible—your reward will be their deep appreciation and unwavering commitment to your association. 


City of Detroit: Opportunity Detroit

Detroit ad

In the face of municipal bankruptcy and a damaged public image, Detroit business leaders created an ad to reverse the defamation of their city.

The leaders of 28 prominent companies in Detroit signed a full-page ad that ran in 11 local and national print publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press/News.

The headline of the ad reads: Here’s $250 billion that says the city of Detroit has a very bright future.

(Click the image or here to enlarge the ad and read the full text.)

“We had grown weary of the onslaught of negative reports that painted Detroit as a dying city…so we asked our peers to join us in a statement of support,” wrote Daniel J. Loepp, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The ad included the hashtag #opportunitydetroit, which represents a large-scale initiative going on in the city. Opportunity Detroit exists to showcase Detroit’s exciting present and promising future, and promotes this message on social media and on a radio show.

The Lesson: A damaged brand can still make a powerful comeback.


The Girls Scouts: New Recruitment Strategy

Girl Scouts - I Can't Wait To...With the number of young girls and adult volunteers involved, the Girl Scouts Of The United States Of America (GSUSA) needed to revamp their recruitment strategy.

The GSUSA marketing team put their heads together and came up with a new tagline that would better resonate with girls—“I Can’t Wait To...” 

Sarah Gormley, a GSUSA marketing executive, explained the idea behind the tagline:

“This is the first time we’re speaking in that fun, fresh language—speaking in a girl’s voice. We learned from the research that the heart of what makes girls want to join, and adults to volunteer, is the opportunity for new experiences. These are exciting whether you’re a 5-year-old or a 40-year-old.”

The Lesson: Gain a deep understanding of your target audience, and speak in a way that will resonate with them on a personal level.



It’s wonderful to look back at the past year and see so many nonprofits accomplish so much success. I hope these five nonprofit marketing moments inspired you, and that the lessons you took away from each were valuable. With 2014 just around the corner, it’s time for some new marketing ideas for the new year! 


Want more of the best of 2013? Check out the year's Top 10 Web Design Trends!


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