Marketing for Good: Applying IMC to Non-Profits

Marketing has evolved to be more than selling products and services. Marketing can be used to promote social causes, sell ideas of change and concepts of innovation. For-profit enterprises communicate their product’s value to the consumer, while non-profits communicate their ideas’ value to the community. Integrated marketing concepts that are implemented at large corporations can also be used to further promote the missions of non-profits. Jeff Davidoff, Chief Marketing Officer for, recently sat down to talk about how integrated marketing methods are being used to further non-profits’ community reach and deepen their social impact.

LL: Integrating social media and new technology seems to be a focus of your work. Can you tell me why social media is so important to non-profits?

JD: The number one reason, is the same media issue, they are never going to have media budgets like for-profit companies do. Anything a non-profit needs you to do is one click away. You can tweet a donation, donate through Facebook, and even YouTube now. It is the fastest most cost efficient way to do it. The ideas I like the best are the ideas that bounce back and forth between the digital and physical world. Digital alone is a great place to start, but on its own, it’s not a long term relationship.

“Anything a non-profit needs you to do is one click away. You can tweet a donation.”

LL: As CMO, do you rely more on creating content for consumers or finding creative ways to share authentic stories?

JD: When I started at ONE, I had a traditional approach to it which was we would make beautiful pieces of creative and we would push them out through social media. More and more of what we are doing is reaching out to creators. Instead of me making something, we reach out to the authentic, existing creators and say here’s our message, are you interested in bringing it to life in your own way. We’re finding that a lot of times, the answer is yes. It feels more authentic.

“There is a different tone and a different language to action.”

LL: How do get people to be actionable? What message are you sending to get them involved?

JD: It’s always about action. I say all the time, “I care less and less about what people think and I really just care about what people do.” So, there is a different tone and a different language to action. We are not in the information business; I’m in the action business. Everything has to have that tone, always ask for action and always thank them for their action. Thanks you did this and this is what happened.

LL: What is the one thing you have learned in your career that you wish someone had told you when you were in graduate school?

JD: Everything that I learned at Kellogg about how to market and communicate to people turned out to be wrong. It’s completely backwards now. I learned that it’s about attitudes; you have to tap into the attitudes of your consumers and find personalities within your brand that match up to those attitudes. Now, it’s 100 percent about behaviors. It’s about getting people to perform behaviors over and over again and taking those behaviors to change attitudes.

“Tap into the attitudes of your consumers and find personalities within your brand that match up to those attitudes.”

LL: When you do digital campaigns, do you use one platform or link them together?

JD: We put it all together. Different platforms do different things. Part of the concept of integrated marketing is the echo chamber. There is nothing linear about marketing to people. There is nothing straight about oh there you are, I’m going to deliver this perfect message, and it will all make sense. Consumers can absorb a message twenty different ways at different times and it makes sense when you’re doing different things. There is a requirement to be everywhere.


As Jeff said, being everywhere in the digital world is essential to success, but the digital world is a new world for non-profits. Non-profits often are unable to reach their full potential because they lack the knowledge of how to effectively market their ideas to the right audience. Graduate students in the IMC program at Medill are helping Chicago area non-profits overcome this problem. The Medill Cause Marketing Initiative (CMI) is a student run organization that assists non-profits with their marketing strategies. “The best piece of creative in the world that nobody sees doesn’t exist! If the creative fell in the woods and no one heard it, did it exist? The answer is no,” said Davidoff. CMI is on a mission to ensure that the ideas of non-profits are heard. IMC takes many forms, but its best, is marketing for good.

About Leigh Lovett 4 Articles
Leigh Lovett is the internal Social Media Director for Vitamin IMC. She is originally from Nashville and is a proud Spelman College graduate. Before attending Medill’s IMC program, Leigh worked as an event planner and public relations consultant for small businesses and non-profits. She provided traditional and nontraditional media support, marketing and creative writing services. Leigh is also the Assistant PR Director for Medill’s Cause Marketing Initiative, a student-run committee that provides pro-bono marketing services for Chicago area non-profit organizations.


  1. Hello! I’m a 2008 IMC grad and I’m now running a nonprofit organization. I’m the executive director for the Scleroderma Foundation, Greater Chicago Chapter. I wanted to learn more about Vitamin IMC and discuss the potential of working together? If someone could contact me I’d love to chat. Thanks!

    Stephanie Somers

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