Marketing Pulse Blog

The Nonprofit’s Place in an Agency’s Client Portfolio

Written by
Joe Yakuel


Agencies have plenty of reasons to bring on clients who don’t exactly fit their portfolio. Maybe they’re testing their efficacy in new verticals; maybe they’re taking a shot that a small-budget brand with a big idea will, with great marketing support, ascend into the agency’s perfect revenue segment.

Or maybe it’s a nonprofit organization whose place on the client roster makes sense in a few different—but crucial—ways.

Ways to work with nonprofits

Before we get into the reasons nonprofit clients can be a great addition to an agency portfolio, let’s chat about some of the ways agencies can choose to partner with them.

First, agencies can simply decide to eat or reduce any non-media-related costs in supporting nonprofits. These engagements can provide training opportunities for agency employees, who can expand their skills, deepen their campaign experience, test new channels, etc.

Another option is to partner with nonprofits in performing PSA lift/incrementality tests. This might not drive tangible business outcomes for the nonprofit in question, but it provides a dose of brand awareness while helping the other client understand the true value of their display campaigns.

Of course, there are plenty of nonprofits, especially large ones, who run their marketing strategy like for-profit companies and pay full fees for their products and services. Attracting nonprofits like this in your target vertical is a win on every level.


Reasons to work with them

Regardless of how your agency is partnering with a nonprofit, there are tons of benefits you can reap from the initiative. 

The first, and arguably the most important in the Great Reshuffling, is the positive impact the right nonprofit partner(s) can have on an agency’s culture, which has become a true hiring differentiator in recent years. Particularly in a younger-skewing industry reliant on Gen Z talent, culture is in the spotlight, and one way to go beyond cultural jargon and lip service is to support causes common to your stated values. At WITHIN, for example, we’ve helped run highly effective TV campaigns for The GenderCool Project, which aligns powerfully with our inclusive culture.

Effective work for nonprofit partners can also establish and/or affirm strength in a particular industry. An agency specializing in direct response might do fantastic work for partners seeking fundraising; an agency focusing on B2B might prove their model with B2B campaign success for a nonprofit like 1% for the Planet. The bonus is that nonprofits are relatively open to providing testimonials and/or putting their logos on case studies, particularly if the agency is working for low (or no) fees.

Last but not least, nonprofit relationships have a tangible impact on an agency’s reputation as a trusted partner. Successful nonprofits must build and maintain audience trust, brand integrity, and clarity of mission, and agency partners who support those pillars earn a halo effect by association.


The advertising world, like virtually every other industry, is wading through choppy economic waters. This is not the time to turn our backs on unconventional clients, especially those whose partnerships can pay off well beyond next month’s P&L.

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Written by
Joe Yakuel

Joe Yakuel is the founder and CEO of WITHIN, the world’s first Performance Branding company. The WITHIN team helps global brands, including Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Facebook, Shake Shack, and Hugo Boss, implement Performance Branding programs to align their digital marketing efforts and revenue goals.


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