The Sustainable Conservation case presents the story of San Francisco-based nonprofit that was founded to solve environmental problems in California through collaborative partnerships between the public and private sector. The nonprofit had built up strong expertise in the agriculture industry, with an early focus on the issues associated with water quality, air pollution, and land use. With a clear track record and a strong team in place, both the board and management team felt that the organization was poised to have even greater impact by expanding its projects and reach across California. Yet, it would clearly need a major influx of capital to execute upon that vision. Ashley and the board had therefore decided in 2011 to undertake the first major fundraising initiative in Sustainable Conservation’s 19-year history. As Ashley read through the feedback from donors who had attended a recent event, she realized there were a number of questions yet to be answered to ensure that the initiative was successful.
This case is intended for use in a course about the challenges and strategic issues associated with building and growing new ventures. This particular case addresses the issues unique to a nonprofit, specifically in the application of “marketing” concepts to a model which does not utilize traditional marketing channels and approaches. The case highlights the unique issues a nonprofit faces in attracting “customers” for a major fundraising campaign, considering its target audience, message, sales process, and outreach efforts. The teaching objective of the case is to help students understand all the factors that comprise a nonprofit’s marketing efforts, with the goal of helping them understand the various tactical and strategic issues they must consider.