3 Nonprofit Marketing Lessons from Queen Bey

All hail the Queen.

I apologize in advance for this stereotypical millennial fangirling about to go down, but if you give me five minutes, I think Queen Beyoncé and I could teach you a few things about marketing.

She is unapologetically herself.

She doesn’t try and please everyone (even though everyone I know loves her).

Your nonprofit’s cause won’t resonate with everyone. And it doesn’t have to. Beyoncé isn’t trying to tap into the country music market by putting out a single featuring Jake Owen or Tim McGraw. (Although, never put anything past her.) She has her niche, and while she’ll occasionally branch out, at her core she knows her strengths and has a strong following as a result of consistency killing it—practice makes perfect.

Your nonprofit doesn’t have to fix the entire world, although I know you aspire to—keep that. Your nonprofit has unique strengths, so before you fulfill your “need” to expand your market, ask yourselves if you’ve really done all that you can in your established markets. Chances are, there’s always more work to be done. Rather than branching out and spreading your team thin, dominate your established niches.

She’s not afraid to take risks

This one is a bit of a stretch, but roll with me. Beyoncé released an album with no prior marketing or PR—that’s bold.

So many nonprofits are afraid to take marketing risks because they’re the little guy compared to the large corporations with a huge budget. You are afraid that if you do something ballsy like Queen B, you’re metaphorical album won’t sell. But it will. If it’s well planned.

I’m not saying you should throw a fundraiser and not send out invitations, but don’t be afraid to mix it up. As someone whose boss is regularly invited to events (apparently I’m not cool enough to earn these invites yet), on his behalf please don’t throw another black tie silent auction. Or if you do, figure out ways to make it different and exciting for your attendees. (Entertainment? A fabulous catered meal from a new up and coming chef? A beer or wine tasting? A unique space other than a reception hall or hotel? You get the idea.)

This lesson from Beyoncé doesn’t solely apply to marketing fundraising events. It encompases a philosophy that can be applied to your organization as a whole. Marketing is another huge area which I encourage you to mix things up. Don’t be predictable as in, each Thursday don’t post a Throwback Thursday post of your NPO 10 years ago.

I see you trying. I applaud you, but don’t schluff off social media and marketing as something that can be done in five minutes at the end of the day. It is your nonprofit’s life’s blood. Your organization will live and die by the strength of your marketing. It’s the difference between competing with TOMs and charity:water and being a nonprofit that 12 people know about.

She has a ‘Beyhive’

Through consistently pumping out compelling social media content, Beyoncé has secured a devoted fan base who are all willing to spread the word about her latest and greatest ventures without even being asked.

The lesson here is to create your own beehive. Easier said than done, I know. At the heart of this goal is one element: effort. Create engaging content that is worth something. Show your followers that they’re more than a notch in your social media belt. How? Pretend that you’re on a first date. No, really. It’s your chance to woo and impress. Do your hair, shower, get them flowers and don’t take them for granted. Don’t look at your number of followers each day and expect them to stay—you have to earn them each day. A few ways to show them you care include:  following them back, giving them public thank you shout outs, sharing their content and offer exclusive content or deals. Above all else, strive for genuine interactions.

Are there more lessons from Beyoncé that you think are worth mentioning? What have you learned from Queen B? Let me know if I missed any in the comments below.


Kathryn Pauley

Kathryn is a regular contributor to the Nonprofit Hub. Soon to be college graduate, she enjoys helping nonprofits understand better how to reach the millennial demographic—cause we are living in a millennial world, and Kathryn's a millennial girl. With experience leading the largest student-run charity event on her campus, she looks forward to bringing her unique perspective to the Hub team every day.

April 21, 2015

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