Talking to Your Board About Making a Marketing Investment

You have a marketing challenge and ideas for how to solve it. However, it’s going to require more resources, and more resources often means more budget. So how can you effectively talk to your board and make the case for additional marketing investment? Here are some suggestions:

Make marketing a regular board agenda item

The fact of the matter is you shouldn’t just be talking to your board about marketing when you need approval for an investment. At every board meeting, you should be providing:

  • A look back at what’s been accomplished since the last board meeting
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  • A look forward at plans for the coming months. 

This way, when you have an initiative that requires additional funding, it’s not a surprise. The board will already be up-to-date on your efforts, successes and challenges, and will recognize that marketing plays an important role at your organization.

Tap board members with expertise

If you’re considering an initiative that’s going to require investment outside what is typically budgeted for marketing or if you don’t currently have a line item for marketing in your budget but want one, start by working with your board members who have expertise in marketing and communications (if you have them). Share your current challenges and opportunities to get their insights. If they agree that additional investment is necessary, ask for their support as you present your plans for marketing to the larger board.

Build your marketing case for support

When making the case for additional investment to your board, start by reviewing marketing’s accomplishments to date. Then, present the current challenges your organization is facing and the opportunity additional marketing budget can help to support. Make the case for why it’s important for moving your organization’s mission forward, and what you risk by not making this important investment. Then, define your ideal next steps and what you need from the board. 

When making the case for additional investment to your board, start by reviewing marketing’s accomplishments to date. Click To Tweet

Following is an example of how a presentation like this might be set up with the board:

  • Marketing’s accomplishments to date: From 2015 to 2017, our content marketing efforts have helped increase our nonprofit’s contact database by 20 percent.
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  • The opportunity: With these new contacts in our network, I’d like to make a concerted effort to convert these individuals into active volunteers and/or donors through a yearlong digital marketing campaign.
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  • Why it’s so important and the risk of holding off: We’ve talked about the fact that donations are stagnating, and this is an opportunity to activate folks already familiar with our organization and our mission. If we don’t do this now, we’ll likely see donation levels decline this year based on historical attrition.
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  • Next steps: We don’t have the staff capacity to do this today. I’d like to explore bringing on either a full-time staff member or agency to assist in developing the campaign and present my findings at the next board meeting. 

Show examples to inspire

Sometimes examples are the best way for board members to understand exactly what you’re looking to achieve through marketing. Whether you want to develop a campaign to raise more awareness, create better messaging, build a stronger brand or raise more funds with marketing’s support, research other organizations that have recently done similar things and share your findings with the board. You can also consider connecting with counterparts at other nonprofits for their insights, and share those as well.

Define next steps together 

While you should take a proactive role in defining the project or initiative for which you’re seeking investment, you should also make space for board expertise and input. Ask questions such as: 

  • Has anyone on the board tackled a challenge like this?
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  • Do you know of individuals or agencies that have assisted organizations like ours with similar challenges who we might talk to for insight?
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  • How involved do you want to be in the process of defining this marketing project and determining how it’s resourced? 

With board input, agree together on next steps and actions that need to take place before the next board meeting to continue forward momentum.

These are just a few strategies you might use to talk to your board about the need for additional marketing budget or investment. Continue to follow our insights for more on how to work with your board to maximize your nonprofit’s marketing efforts.

Every marketing goal you set should align with a strategic, organization-wide goal.

Use this framework to guide a brainstorm with key team leaders and identify how marketing can serve each of your organization’s goals.