The 2018 Nonprofit Marketing & Brand Barometer Study
How do top performing* nonprofits approach marketing and brand development?
This is the question we endeavored to answer in our inaugural Nonprofit Marketing and Brand Barometer study.
The results are enlightening. Among our data, interesting findings emerged, such as:
- Top performing nonprofits are 3x more likely to have a formal marketing budget than average performers
- A majority of top performing nonprofits have a formal brand strategy (52%) and marketing plan (65%), while a majority of average performers do not
- Top performing nonprofits are almost twice as likely as average performers to align their marketing plan with their strategic plan
These data point to the importance of prioritizing marketing and brand strategy, structure and resources and the impact of that prioritization on your nonprofit’s performance.
This year’s survey underscores what we’ve been saying for quite some time: marketing is about more than awareness and fundraising. It’s about overall performance and positioning your nonprofit to advance its mission. Read on for full study results and then tell us: how are you using what you’ve learned about the marketing practices of top performers to improve your nonprofit’s approach to brand and marketing?
Top performing nonprofits put more of their operating budgets toward marketing.
Question: What percentage of your organization's overall operating budget is allocated for marketing and communications, including paid staff and consultants (approximately)?
Top performing nonprofits put more strategy and structure around marketing.
Question: Which of the following best describes your nonprofit's marketing plan?
Top performing nonprofits are more likely to align their marketing plan with their strategic plan.
Question: Is your nonprofit's marketing plan aligned with your organization's strategic plan?
Top performing nonprofits are more likely to have a brand strategy and align their internal and external identity with their mission.
Question: Does your organization have a defined brand strategy?
Question: Are your internal identity and external image aligned with your mission?
When building their brand strategies, top performing nonprofits are most likely to include a visual identity, key messages and a positioning statement.
Question: Which of the following brand elements have you defined for your organization?
Top performing nonprofit organizations trust their stakeholders to personalize how they talk about their brands.
Question: Do you trust your staff to personalize the way they talk about your organization?
Generating awareness and fundraising are the most common marketing goals among all nonprofits, but top performing nonprofits are more likely to utilize marketing to generate earned revenue.
Question: Which of the following marketing/communications goals are you focused on at your organization right now?
There are several grading/evaluation systems for nonprofit performance, including BBB Wise, Charity Navigator, GuideStar and others. Each system uses its own criteria to rate nonprofit performance, with a focus on information shared, financial performance, impact and more. None of them is comprehensive or perfect in and of itself, but together, they paint a good picture of a nonprofit’s performance and effectiveness. For the purpose of this study, we have defined top-performing nonprofits as organizations with a rating of 3 stars or more on Charity Navigator. We made this selection because Charity Navigator looks at three important factors when rating nonprofit organizations, including financial health, accountability, and transparency, and also shares information with GuideStar. Learn more about CharityNavigator’s rating system here.
Upon establishing a method for identifying top performing nonprofits, we surveyed approximately 250 organizations, approximately 20% of which qualified as top performers, using an online survey. Responses were then compared between top performing nonprofits and all other respondents with an eye on significant differences between the group.
About Prosper Strategies
This study was commissioned and conducted by the Prosper Strategies Research Institute, an initiative of the Chicago-based marketing firm Prosper Strategies.
As the leading marketing experts for nonprofit and for-profit social impact organizations, Prosper Strategies has helped hundreds of changemakers across the world build powerful brands and advance their missions. Learn more at prosper-strategies.com.
We’d like to thank all the participants in this year’s study for taking the time to share your responses. We know your time is valuable and appreciate your commitment to furthering social sector-specific marketing research!