What Qualities Should I Look for in a Nonprofit Marketing Leader?

3 min read

We’ve shared our perspective that marketing leadership needs to have a seat at the table to truly drive mission impact. This means putting someone at your organization in a C-Suite role, like a Chief Marketing Officer or similar. But who should this person be, and what talents and qualities should they possess?

Most marketers are bold, daring and creative in their own way. However, nonprofit CMOs need a few additional qualities to be successful in the social sector.

Your nonprofit CMO should:

Have a big vision for marketing’s role at your nonprofit

Marketing needs to build awareness for your organization and help your nonprofit raise funds, but that’s not all. When treated the right way, and put into the right, capable hands, marketing has the ability to drive every goal within your strategic plan and to advance your mission.

When treated the right way, and put into the right, capable hands, marketing has the ability to drive every goal within your strategic plan and to advance your mission. Click To Tweet

In order for this to happen, your nonprofit CMO needs to share this belief and recognize their role extends far beyond the four walls of your office. They need to be able to think both big and strategically to support your boldest goals and objectives.

Think big picture, but get their hands dirty

While your nonprofit CMO should spend time with their head in the clouds, visioning what’s possible for your nonprofit and its future, at times they also need to have their feet on the ground and their hands in the work. The CMO role at most nonprofits is less about directing a group of other seasoned marketers and more about hiring, mentoring and growing talent from within. This means there are times when their own expert skills will need to be put to work to complement the efforts of their teams.

Understand the unique complexities of the sector

One of the best things about marketing in the nonprofit sector is the complex communications dynamic that includes boards, staff, volunteers, donors, funders and clients. Decisions are rarely made top down, and communications are often the result of co-creation. A nonprofit CMO needs the ability to artfully navigate their role and relationship with these varying audiences, ensuring, for example, they’re getting what they need from board members to be successful, while also empowering those for whom their mission exists.

Value stakeholder input and stakeholder voice

A key indicator of a nonprofit CMO’s success is their ability to engage your organization’s stakeholders and ensure they are getting inputs from the right people at the right times. If your organization is updating its brand or developing new messaging, your nonprofit CMO needs to be able to get the right inputs to ensure the end product is impactful, while bringing your various stakeholders along in the process. It’s the careful balance between marketing, communications and change management that your nonprofit CMO must be able to master for success.

Possess strong writing skills

Every marketer, but particularly your nonprofit CMO, needs to be a great writer. Whether they write the content themselves or not, this person will be overseeing everything that is communicated about your brand and nonprofit organization. While this may seem like table stakes, and it should be, good writing is also a great indicator of strategic ability.

There you have it. Your next nonprofit CMO in a blog.


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