Not-for-Profits could set the pace for commercial brands

Punctuation marks made of puzzle pieces by Horia Varlan, Flickr

Sir Ernest Rutherford famously said:  “We haven’t got the money, so we’ve got to think”.  It is a truism that has played out for many small budget advertisers who have had to break rules and take risks to get noticed.

Which is why, not surprisingly, many the more innovative users of social media have come from smaller companies.  Digital has allowed small and start up brands to compete with big, established brand in ways they never could before.

But small and big commercial brands alike may end up learning from Not-for-Profit organisations.  With even less resources than many small enterprises, NFPs have been demonstrating that necessity really is the mother of invention.  Here are three examples.


To get people to use less paper in the workplace, thus helping to conserve forests, the World Wildlife Fund has released a free piece of software that allows businesses to save files in the ‘green’ .WWF format.  These have the same properties as PDFs but are not printable.  A simple idea that has the potential to make a big impact.

Aleh Group Donating

To raise funds to buy much needed but expensive equipment, Aleh – Israel’s largest network of residential facilities for children with severe disabilities – has used the mechanism of group buying to allow people to donate towards the cost of specific items of medical equipment.  Through Walla Shops, the country’s leading shopping site, people can follow the progress of a purchase and along with others experience the satisfaction when it’s completed.  This was based on the insight that people are more likely to contribute when they can see exactly what they’re money is going towards.   Since starting the initiative the time it takes to ‘sell’ as piece of equipment has fallen from several months to only 7 days.  It’s not hard to see other causes using this approach.

FLOW Close the Tap

For World Water Day 2012, South African water conservation NGO, FLOW (For the Love of Water) is urging Twitter users to close a virtual running tap by tweeting their water-saving messages.

The website developed for the campaign live streams a running tap from Cape Town, a symbol for daily water wastage.  The tap will close when it receives enough water saving tweets (10,000) carrying the #CloseTheTap hashtag.

When tweeting participants can choose from several humorous waste saving pledges or make up their own.  At time of writing over 5,000 tweets have been received.

Image Credit: Horia Varlan

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2 thoughts on “Not-for-Profits could set the pace for commercial brands

    • I hope this is of some use to your colleagues. Since writing this I have seen several more examples of innovative, low-cost and effective digital initiatives by NFP organisations.

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