The external environment consists of the public environment, the competitive environment and the macro environment in which the central mosque operates. This is constantly changing and can present both threats for the mosque to avert, or opportunities for the mosque to take hold of. The ‘publics’ to which the central mosque provides for are the ‘distinct group of people, organizations, or both, whose actual or potential needs must in some sense be served’ (Andreasen & Kotler, 2003).
Marketing is vital to the success of the organisation both in the profit and not-for-profit world, as both are about convincing the public, either to purchase their products, or to make donations to their organisation. Andreasen & Kotler (2003) have argued that not-for-profit managers need to be able to identify all of their different publics and understand their needs and wants, in order to be able to better influence their behaviours, a determinant of not-for-profit success.
The central mosque primarily serves the Muslim population of Birmingham, as well as acting as an information point, for any others who wish to find out more about Islam. It is not only a place of worship but also offers a number of practical services such as a marriage bureau, a family support group, a Shariah Court, Hadeeth classes, evening school, martial arts and a funeral group. The central mosque has to meet the needs of the variety of publics it serves well, in order to remain successful.
Input publics include those groups or individuals that provide resources: suppliers; donors, and; regulatory publics (which can also provide constraints if unsatisfied with the performance of the mosque). The mosque’s internal publics include staff, regular visitors, helpers and current worshippers. Volunteers, staff and the management committee of the mosque are particularly important as they will be responsible for carrying out the mosques marketing strategy in the future, as it currently does not have one.
External publics on the other hand include prospective worshippers, prospective staff, and the local community. These may be more difficult to gain. All stakeholder expectations have to be fulfilled. At present, many of the mosques worshippers are pleased with the mosque’s performance (Source: Mr Zaka, member of the congregation, Central Mosque). The growing numbers of worshippers at the mosque is further evidence for this.
However, if a particular group such as donors were to be dissatisfied with the performance of the mosque in the future, then they may cut their donations threatening the survival of the mosque. The central mosque therefore needs to identify the needs and wants of all of these different publics and deliver to them to ensure their survival. In order to compete successfully within the market place, the central mosque has to be able to identify and understand its competitors, as well as predict future strategies that they may pursue.
Only then will they be able to react adequately to their forthcoming moves. The intensity of the competition and how the mosque responds to such pressures will determine how successful they are in the long term. Brinckerhoff (2003) states that although ‘faith based organisations do not think of themselves as competitive….. they in fact are, because they are all competing to attract and retain members for their congregation’. The central mosque is no exception to this school of thought as it is believed that all mosques are doing the work of God and exist for the benefit of society.
Nevertheless, as Sargeant (1999) has identified, the reality is that competition between not-for-profit organisations does exist in terms of resources, competition for provision for not-for-profit services, and competition between organisations that have similar missions. There are approximately one hundred mosques in Birmingham, a highly consolidated market place, emphasising the intensity of competition that exists. A handful are purpose built mosques and therefore direct competitors of the central mosque as they offer many of the same types of services.
It is important to understand competitors, if only as a means of benchmarking. The more resources an organisation has influence over, the greater the control they are able to yield. Direct competitors of the central mosque include the Central Jamia Mosque (accommodates five thousand worshippers) and the President Sadaam Hussein Mosque (accommodates one thousand worshippers). The central mosque falls in between both of these in terms of capacity.
Not only does the central mosque have to compete with other purpose built mosques such as these, but also with many smaller mosques (all desire competitors) which have been converted from local houses and buildings. The central mosque also faces generic competition, as the public may decide to stay at home and say their prayers. Competition exists in terms of resources, members for their congregation, donors and volunteers to name but a few. The last two decades have seen great changes in the competitive environment as the number of Muslims and mosques have grown vastly.
This is likely to increase further, thus leading to harsher and tougher competition. If the central mosque wants to ensure its survival in the future, they have to be able to gain competitive advantage. A possibility may be for the central mosque to join forces with another mosque and merge expertise and facilities. However, Brinckerhoff (2003) has noted that such collaborations are unlikely. Nevertheless, it is still something to think about when considering the future strategies the mosque may pursue.
A PEST analysis can be used to analyse the external environment in which the mosque operates, by considering how political, economic, social and technological factors are likely to affect the mosques development and performance. An understanding of potential opportunities and threats presented by such factors and the changes which may occur in the future, is extremely important in terms of its contribution toward strategic choice. In terms of the central mosque, political changes in the environment are less important as the government does not shape the way in which the mosque conducts itself, nor does the mosque accept any funding from it.
The mosque does have the opportunity to ask for government funding, but whether it chooses to is another matter. The main factor that could affect the mosque would be if the government allowed more Muslim refugees into the city, as many have flocked to the mosque for food and shelter in recent months and resources have consequently been strained (and may continue to be so in the future). Economic changes however would greatly affect the running of the mosque as the mosque relies heavily on charitable donations.
Low disposable income, high interest rates, increased taxation and high unemployment levels are a few examples of how economic factors (more so the scarcity of money among the public) would lead to reduced donations. This would be a great threat to the mosque donations are the main method by which the mosque receives it income. In terms of social factors, the future attitudes of the Muslim public towards the mosque, their need for the mosque and their desire to go to the mosque will all affect attendance levels.
Consumer lifestyle changes may lead to reduced attendance if they have less time to spare (including volunteers) or if their attitudes and beliefs towards the mosque change. The degree to which the teachings of the mosque are considered relevant will be an important determinant of attendance rates as will the quantity and quality of their services. If there is dissatisfaction among the public or disagreement over how funds have been spent, they may also stop attending or cut their donations. Demographic trends will also dictate the future demand for the mosque as will the size of the Muslim population.
Lastly, technological changes are again less important for the mosque as it does not rely heavily on technological equipment. Nevertheless, the mosque does have a website in the attempt to reach wider new publics. The mosque could therefore opportunise on any technological advancements that are made to improve the general efficiency of the way in which they do work with the latest software and databases, for example a database of large donors or local Muslim business men to ask for donations (For a full PEST analysis, please see Appendix 2 respectively).