This past summer, Chatham undergraduate Anh Nguyen had the chance to intern with A+ Schools – a nonprofit organization that focuses on advancing equity and excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools. As a Research and Communications intern, Anh’s role was to inform and engage the public to mobilize support. She primarily reached out to potential donors, stakeholders, volunteers, and interested individuals in Pittsburgh communities to get the word out about the organization’s work. To do so, she leveraged multiple communication channels, such as social media outlets, email newsletters, blog posts, and flyers. The internship presented rich insights on career opportunities and member functions, particularly the role of marketing in a nonprofit organization.
According to Investopedia, marketing is, “the activity of a company associated with buying and selling a product or service. It includes advertising, selling and delivering products to people.” The main focus of marketing is to get a target market’s attention by distinguishing the company from others. Before interning at A+ Schools, Anh had the impression that marketing activities were exclusive to for-profit organizations or businesses that offer tangible products or personal services. Anh quickly found out this is not the case.
Marketing’s intent is to increase public awareness of organizations and their work. Nonprofit organizations, like A+ Schools, use marketing to attract donors, volunteers, and public attention to their cause, and to create a distinct brand for themselves. Similar to other types of organizations and businesses, nonprofits rely on adequate and frequent funding and publicity, something difficult to muster without goods and services.
Instead of providing customers with merchandise for their personal benefit, nonprofit organizations bring about social goods and services that benefit the community. Thus the goals of marketing activities may be the same among all types of organizations, yet the tactics are different.
“During my time at A+ Schools, I learned that they mainly market through communications. This included email-newsletters, social media outlets, websites, flyers, and research publications. Together, these channels promote the image and mission of the organization and draw the public attention to the work of the organization.” – Anh Nguyen
It is important that the results of the organization’s work are widely promoted. The work of a nonprofit organization is one of the few ways to show stakeholders that their interest, time, attention, and donation are effectively used to deliver the promised social results. In addition, the nonprofits must inform the public of how they are giving back to the community. They use tools such as free training, workshops, and information-discussion panels on the relevant topics to connect and communicate.
While for-profit organizations and businesses advertise against their competitors, nonprofits often work together. They promote other organizations in return for donations, recognition, or promotion. This collaboration tactic works well in bringing in potential donors and building reputation and recognition for all organizations involved. One example Nguyen recollects is a collaboration between A+ Schools and Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition for a panel regarding restorative practices in public schools. Sometimes nonprofits work with for-profits to promote both organizations, especially if the nonprofits work in a similar field but fulfill different needs. Another example that emphasizes this would be A+ Schools’ annual event – Changemakers (find an informational sheet designed by Nguyen at the bottom of the article). This event is hosted by A+ Schools but was sponsored by several other non-profit and for-profit organizations.
“I enjoyed my time working at A+ Schools very much. The office environment itself is very welcome and friendly. The thing that stood out to me the most was that the organization pushes for changes in public schools and they start with structuring their organization the way they want to see schools to be structured. I would say that everyone in the office is passionate about the cause of the organization, which is very inspirational.” – Anh Nguyen
Chatham encourages its undergraduate and graduate students to participate in internships, during the summer or school year, to gain valuable professional experience prior to graduation. Moreover, there are multiple courses offered focusing on the nonprofit realm, including BUS452/552 Managing Nonprofit Organizations, to provide students a theoretical foundation on how nonprofits function.
Anh Nguyen is a junior at Chatham University in Pittsburgh and is a double major in Marketing and Economics. This past summer, she had the opportunity to intern at A+ Schools – a nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh that focuses on educational equity and excellence in public schools. More of Anh’s work with A+ Schools can be found at the following links:
Corey Doeing is a sophomore at Chatham University studying arts management with a minor in sustainability. He is interested in various methods of design, marketing, and communications. He is an office assistant in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, so stop in and say hi!