Is it Time to Rethink Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan?

Nonprofit organizations that have a current and comprehensive marketing plan bring in, on average, 2.2 times more donations than organizations that do not. Does your nonprofit marketing plan meet that definition?

Nonprofits that have a current marketing plan bring in, on average, 2.2 times more donations. Click To Tweet

Here are four signs it’s time to update your nonprofit marketing plan

1. You haven’t outlined specific, achievable goals

Your organization’s mission is the compass that should guide you through every decision you make and every activity you pursue. Now, are the right goals in place to achieve that mission? If not, it’s time to rethink your nonprofit marketing plan, and goals are a great place to start.

Effective marketing goals are both measurable and realistically achievable within your organization’s means. For example, a set of goals for a housing and human services nonprofit focused on improving self-sufficiency among those in poverty might include:

  • House 100 people in the next 12 months
  • Provide job training for 1,000 people in the next 12 months
  • Raise $100,000 in unrestricted funds in the next 12 months
  • Attract 500 new donors who give at least $1000 each in the next 12 months

And as you work to achieve those goals, identifying the right key performance indicators (KPIs) will be crucial. In your marketing plan, spell out the specific metrics will you measure in relation to each goal to determine if you’ve succeeded, and identify specific member(s) of your team who will be held accountable for each one.

2. You’re struggling to plan for marketing activities and delegate responsibilities

Is your nonprofit operating without a calendar that defines what activities will happen when? If so, you’re not alone. Many nonprofit communications teams work reactively rather than proactively, simply responding to needs from other departments as they come up. Others feel they can get away with “winging it” when it comes to their marketing activities because leaders are in place who have been with the organization for a long time. But without a marketing calendar, most teams struggle with both efficiency and effectiveness. If your marketing plan is missing a schedule of activities, it’s probably time you revisited it.

With a marketing calendar that maps out important activities in advance, you can also better define responsibilities and delegate items to the appropriate parties. With advance notice, these parties will be able to plan ahead and work ahead, and it will also be easier to hold people accountable to their responsibilities.

3. Your value proposition has changed and your messaging is disjointed

As your organization matures, your value proposition to donors, volunteers, program participants and others will inevitably evolve. You may add new programs and services that change the way you communicate about what you do, or your vision and mission may simply shift as you grow and continually re-evaluate your strategic plan.

If your last marketing plan was developed with a value proposition in mind that is no longer representative of your organization today and if your messaging feels disjointed as a result, it’s likely time to go back to the drawing board.

Every nonprofit marketing plan should include a set of key messages that can be used to describe your value proposition across communication channels and stakeholder groups. To arrive at these key messages, we often help our clients conduct stakeholder interviews, focus groups and/or surveys to determine how various players think about their organization and what matters most to each of them. Then, we work with them to create stakeholder profiles for each group and to arrive at a set of brand benefits or key communication points that speak to their value proposition. Finally, we write a key message for every brand benefit and stakeholder pairing. We find this process helps our nonprofit clients articulate their value proposition in a way that is more resonant with each audience they aim to engage, and it’s no surprise that clients who refer to their key messages regularly have far clearer and more consistent communications.

4. Your budget has decreased or increased significantly

Nonprofit marketing budgets are constantly shifting. One month, you might receive a grant that opens up new opportunities for your organization. The next month, you may have to cut back on marketing investments to make up for a budgetary shortfall in other departments. Staying agile is key, and your marketing plan should be built with flexibility in mind.

But if your budget has increased or decreased significantly, it may be time to do a bigger overhaul of your marketing plan. The goals your plan once focused on and tactics and timelines for pursuing those goals may no longer make sense if you find yourself dealing with a dollar amount that is significantly more or less than what you originally planned for. Trying to force fit a marketing plan into a new budget can be a recipe for disaster.

Ready to revisit your marketing plan, or don’t have one to begin with?

nonprofit marketing plan workbookDownload our Nonprofit Marketing Plan template. It’s a great starting point for revamping an existing marketing plan or creating one for the first time.

Katie Diveley is an account executive at Prosper Strategies.

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