Every nonprofit faces its own unique set of marketing challenges, but most organizations have one common goal: achieving their mission and making a positive impact on the communities they serve.
Whether your organization has one person running all communications efforts, coordinates marketing efforts across multiple teams or employees with other responsibilities, or has an entire team devoted to marketing and communications, marketing is crucial to your nonprofit’s success. But not all nonprofits are able to successfully execute their marketing strategies.
According to a recent nonprofit communications report, nonprofits rank their communications effectiveness a mere 3.3 out of 5 stars. However, with the right team in place, you can overcome challenges that stand in your way to rank 5 out of 5 stars at your organization.
Marketing challenges vary based on the size and budget of the organization. Let’s look at the facts.
Small nonprofit team
Fact: Smaller organizations with annual budgets under $1 million devote 21 percent of their total staff to communications (usually about one person). Nonprofits that are the least effective at this budget level devote only 15 percent of their staff to communications.Marketing challenges vary based on the size & budget of the nonprofit. Let’s look at the facts. Click To Tweet
If your organization is small, it’s likely every member of your team has a hand in the communications cookie jar, and there are a lot of people who are expected to contribute to your marketing goals, whether they’re trained in marketing or not. And with the many hats most people on your team probably wear, marketing tasks can often get pushed to the side. You might find your organization struggles to make its marketing dreams a reality with these barriers standing in your way.
Mid-size nonprofit team
Fact: Mid-size organizations with annual budgets between $1 million and $10 million devote 10 percent of their total staff to communications (usually about two people).
If this describes your organization, you’re likely working with a small but mighty team that is focused on communications. You and your teammates are likely juggling both strategic goals and tactical execution, which is a lot for even the most talented communications professionals. With limited support, it’s hard to get everything done, and you might find that you’re not able to dedicate the time you’d like to do both tactical and strategic work successfully.
Large nonprofit team
Fact: Larger organizations with annual budgets above $10 million devote 4 percent of their total staff (on average 9 people) to communications.
At this size, coordinating across multiple departments within and outside of your own communications team and ensuring each team is tracking toward the same organizational goals can be difficult. You might find that your messaging, tactical execution and metrics are all over the place, making it nearly impossible to advance your mission through marketing.
But no matter your size or company structure, your communications team needs to find a way to overcome these marketing challenges in order to make an impact.
The nonprofit marketing team sweet spot
Fact: Communications effectiveness increases dramatically when organization’s reach 3 full-time employees. This means that the most successful marketing and communications tactics do not have to be executed by large teams. The nonprofit marketing team sweet spot is 3, so take this into consideration when staffing your communications team.
However, size isn’t all that matters. Here are other qualities your nonprofit marketing team needs to possess to overcome common marketing challenges and advance your mission:
Cultural alignment is of course a key to a successful nonprofit marketing team, but you need to go beyond culture. You need a team that believes in your mission and is motivated to help your organization reach its goals. When you understand your stakeholders and align each member of your team with your mission, your marketing will be more impactful.
While day-to-day execution is very important in keeping your marketing efforts moving forward, your team needs to think strategically too. Whether it’s looking back at metrics to assess what is or isn’t working, brainstorming new campaign ideas or growing partnerships to share your message with new audiences, there needs to be a strategic component to all of the work you do. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time writing and sharing content with no tie to your goals.
Unique perspectives and experiences
The more diverse the perspectives are on your nonprofit marketing team, the more well-rounded your marketing strategies and campaigns will be. For example, if your strengths lie in traditional marketing, consider how digital might play a role in helping your organization reach its goals and tap team members who are strong there, or vice versa.
Strong writing skills
No matter what you do from a communications perspective, it all comes back to writing. Your messaging is crucial to conveying your organization’s mission and you need strong writers on your team to do that at every level.
Strong analytical skills
At the end of the week, month, quarter or whenever you’re tracking your marketing results, you need someone analytical who can assess the data. Successful marketing strategies constantly evolve based on what’s working well and what isn’t, and you need someone who can actively assess progress to keep your team on track to hitting your marketing goals.
While your organization likely faces its own unique challenges, consider how you can foster these skills among your current team. When done right, marketing can directly translate into donor dollars and growth. In fact, nonprofits with inbound marketing and donor intelligence strategies in place raise, on average, 2.2 times more money than those that don’t. Prioritizing marketing and aligning your marketing strategy with your team can help you overcome challenges and proactively communicate your mission.
No matter the size of your team, it’s important to have a marketing plan guiding your efforts.
Whether you’re a big or small organization, our Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template can prepare your team for the unique challenges you may face. Ready to get started? Find more guidance, along with tools you can use to build your plan by downloading our template here.