How to be a Nonprofit Marketing Hero, Despite Small Teams and Budgets

By Heike Young

It all started with a sticker.

When Indiana got a reputation as a less-than-welcoming state for all amid new legislation, Josh Driver saw an opportunity.

Josh’s vision was to make it easy for consumers to find businesses that serve everyone. So he launched the nonpartisan Open for Service, a nonprofit network of businesses and organizations that welcome all who come through their doors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, disability, political views, or religious affiliations.

He first asked businesses to share a sticker in their window saying, “This business serves everyone.” His vision then expanded into a mobile app and broader social media effort.

Since 2015, Open for Service has registered over 12,000 businesses worldwide and close to 127,000 consumers. As marketers, what can we learn from this non-profit success story?

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast — the marketing podcast from Salesforce — we interview Josh on his marketing best practices that helped Open for Service go viral. We also ask how Marketing Cloud and Salesforce helped promote his cause and engage with benefactors.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, check out the Marketing Cloudcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Stitcher.

Take a listen here:

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Josh Driver.

1. Leverage a partnership model.

When Josh began working on Open for Service, he and his team “found that there was a real opportunity and need for people to access resources that are local to them and not worry about being turned away.”

However, Open for Service is also a nonprofit that relies heavily on an intern and volunteers. The group doesn’t have the resources or budget to spread its message to thousands of business owners alone. “My growth as a small nonprofit leans heavily on the business owners ramping up a community of their own. Our growth model really depends on associations, like a chamber of commerce or a large corporation to distribute our information,” says Josh. This is why leveraging a partnership model is key.

2. Use smart technology from the beginning.

Today, Open for Service’s mobile app has a huge footprint with thousands of consumers and business owners. But it started with a spreadsheet — and eventually led to Salesforce. “Our mission and strategic plan is based on the technology that Salesforce develops,” says Josh.

“We had an Excel sheet that we were able to put into Sales Cloud and disseminate into a directory for businesses.” After cleansing the data, they connected Sales Cloud to Heroku, where they built their online registration, web directory, and both their iPhone and Android app directories. The system then connects with Marketing Cloud to distribute personalized email communication, based on whether you’re a consumer or a business.

Without a large staff to enter data, Heroku was the perfect match. “Building this autonomous process has helped take the bottleneck out of the equation and automatically populate the directory,” says Josh. Read more about how Open for Service uses Salesforce.

3. Assume a listening position before you jump in.

From creating a beta version to launch, it took close to seven months to get Open for Service’s app up and running. That was intentional. “We wanted to sit back in a listening position for a bit to see where we needed to be instead of trying to be ahead of the conversation. I think that’s led to quality growth and has given us a positive identification,” says Josh.

Whereas some organizations burn bright and then fizzle out, Josh says, “I want to be that continual resource over time.”

4. Keep donors engaged for the long haul.

Donors want to feel like they matter and that their investments are paying off. “The way that millennials donate is significantly different. You need to listen and make sure that you’re paying attention to the people that are supporting you. It’s a constant, evolving discussion that you have to prepare yourself for,” says Josh.

5. Grow your community through social.

“A lot of the content we’re building right now, especially with our email designs, is easily shareable,” says Josh.

When it comes to social, Josh likes to keep the conversation accessible to all, just like the businesses that comprise Open for Service’s network. “I want people from all walks of life and different backgrounds to feel some kind of connection,” he says. This means creating a community where people feel comfortable interacting on social media.

“We really try and foster a collaborative environment because I think it’s important for people to see where other people are coming from,” says Josh.

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Josh Driver (@joshdrivershow). Get the complete scoop on nonprofit marketing in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

Join the thousands of smart marketers who already subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, and Stitcher.

New to podcast subscriptions in iTunes? Search for “Marketing Cloudcast” in the iTunes Store and hit Subscribe, as shown below.

Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.

Originally published at

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.