Paying attention to the market

Nonprofits must pay significantly more attention to the market. The market – not internal audiences and certainly not other nonprofit organizations – determines your organization’s relevance and long-term sustainability.

Colleen Dilenshneider, Marketing Your Nonprofit to Audiences that ACTUALLY Matter

Indeed. Wikipedia says that a non-profit is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. I feel there’s a general confusion that “non profit” means “doesn’t (need to) make money” but the green stuff needs to be coming in, either through funds or sales activity, in order to break even… and only then, are we talking about surplus revenue.

The target market that’s the most relevant to achieving an organization’s goals is not always self-evident. It can actually be quite difficult – it might need to be created from scratch, change over time, etc. Working under the banner of social change doesn’t mean that the organization can skip thinking about product/market fit.

As the Gadago NPO prepares to expand operations to the Kansai area, I’ve been thinking about markets and our core competencies with the simple matrix below. I realized that some ideas that were passed on in the past because they seemed insurmountable was because the ideas required expanding both our market and capabilities. Taking a subset of our existing services and rolling them out in a new region falls in the third quadrant.

Sketching a page from the "This is Service Design Thinking" book