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  About the Institute for Nonprofit Marketing

Competition

Competition for a nonprofit means something different than in the for-profit sector. However, it is critically important in developing your organizational strategy to make an assessment of the competition. This section is designed to help you to identify the major competitors and assess how they affect your organization. For familiarity with the terms used in this section, please refer to FindIt.Org's Nonprofit Marketing section called 'Marketing - an overview.'

Your first step is to identify your client market. Next, segment that market into the major groups which you serve. You will know best which segments makes for your organization. The most common method is to segment by geography, demography, psychography and behavior. For example, a museum will identify such market segments as: tourists, school groups, regular attendees, etc. Make a list of each market segment served by your nonprofit.

For each market segment you identify, look for two types of competition -- time and enterprise. Time competitors compete for the time of the people in a market segment. Time competitors need not be other nonprofits. For example, tourists may not have time to go to your museum because there is an afternoon jazz concert series in the park across the street. Anything that is competing for time is a time competitor. Assess the importance of the competition. Perhaps your museum would want to extend its hours during the summer jazz festival?

Enterprise competitors pose different problems for the nonprofit sector. Who else is serving your same markets in similar ways? How well are they accomplishing their mission? Enterprise competitors provide the same services and programs to the same market segments. Because your mission is to see to it that the needs of your clients are met, and not achieve fame or fortune for your nonprofit-- the way to assess this situation depends on values and maybe even consideration of your clients' needs over the needs of organizational viability. But, look closely before getting discouraged by large, national organizations which serve your same market segment. Perhaps local, grassroots solutions tailor themselves better for your cause. Also consider differentiation -- what features, services or other characteristics distinguish you from the competition? So long as you remain focused on your mission -- avoiding mission drift -- your organization may want to seek out ways to differentiate services.

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