Setting Your Social Enterprise’s Marketing Budget

6 min read

Did you stick to your marketing budget in 2017?

If your social enterprise is like most, setting (and keeping) a marketing budget can seem almost impossible. You’re not alone. Many social enterprises don’t have a dedicated marketing budget going into 2018. But setting a marketing budget is critical for your social enterprise’s success not only in marketing, but overall. If you want to get your marketing efforts off to a great start, make it your organization’s New Year’s resolution to set a realistic marketing budget that you can keep.

The Need for a Marketing Budget

If you’re even considering creating or adjusting your marketing budget, you’re off to a good start. Many organizations don’t have a dedicated marketing budget at all, or it’s treated as a line item. But marketing and communications can play a critical role in your social enterprise’s success, this year and beyond. Like nonprofit organizations, social enterprises put their mission first, meaning finances aren’t always the top priority. But dedicating part of your budget to marketing and communications directly ties to your organization’s growth, sustainability and ability to achieve your mission. Cutting this budget, or not having one at all, can make it difficult to sustain or grow your social enterprise financially.

Some ways marketing can help your social enterprise achieve its goals include:

  • Identifying target consumers and how to reach them
  • Driving brand awareness that establishes your company’s credibility
  • Recruiting employees that share your company’s same interests in creating purpose and profit
  • Garnering interest from media to spread the word about your impactful work
  • Generating support for and organizing action around issues that your organization advocates for
  • Driving social and behavioral change

Creating an Annual Marketing Budget

Once social enterprise leaders have made the decision to create a marketing budget, one question we often get from them is, “How do I know how much to spend on marketing?” The answer to that question largely depends on your organization’s size and capacity, but it should always tie back to your goals.

Planning for marketing expenses upfront will be critical to make your marketing needs come to life in 2018. According to Entrepreneur, new organizations should budget 12 to 20 percent of revenue on marketing, while established organizations should set aside 6 to 12 percent of their budget. If your organization is still in the early stages, this figure may seem high. However, dedicating spend to marketing and communications, and in turn, a strong marketing strategy, is an investment in your organization’s long-term success. And, you have the freedom to modify your budget based on your organization’s individual goals and priorities this year. Organizations that implement a content marketing strategy, for example, generate three times the amount of leads than those that do not, and that’s just one tactic. Imagine what your organization could accomplish with an integrated marketing plan.

Remember, you have the freedom to modify your budget based on your organization’s individual goals and priorities this year. No matter how you choose to determine your marketing budget, it should always be based on your goals and expected outcomes.

Your #socent's #marketing budget should be set based on your overarching goals. Click To Tweet

Aligning Marketing Goals with Marketing Budget

Your marketing plan is your roadmap to setting an appropriate marketing budget. It will help you identify what marketing tactics need to happen and what you can de-prioritize. This way, you can ensure you are setting and allocating your budget appropriately. If you haven’t finalized your plan yet, you can use our quick marketing plan template to get started. When setting your plan, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Goals and Objectives

Figuring out your social enterprise’s organizational goals throughout the year is key to setting realistic marketing goals and, in turn, a realistic budget. While your goals will encompass where you envision your organization going in 2018, your objectives are time-sensitive tactics that will help you get there. For example, if your yearly goal is to increase your leads by 3 percent, a short-term objective could be increasing calls to action on your website. Mapping out what you want to accomplish this year will allow you to see your costs up front and set your 2018 budget up for success.

Target Stakeholders

Do you know what makes your stakeholders tick? Identifying your target stakeholders is your chance to really hone in on the people who make your organization what it is today. Think long and hard about which of these groups is the most important to your success. By taking the time to rank their importance, and identify how you can reach them best in your marketing plan, you can allocate your marketing budget appropriately. For example, if you want to broaden your customer base this year but continue to develop your marketing plan with the same consumers you’ve always had in mind, you’d be using your budget inappropriately.


Your selected tactics play a huge role in determining the amount of budget you set aside for marketing this year. We find that it can be easy for new marketers to want to experiment with many different tactics all at once, rather than honing in on one. It’s okay if your marketing budget doesn’t allow for all of the tactics you’d like to accomplish this year. With your budget in mind, you can begin to prioritize tactics and increase their reach as bandwidth and budget allow.

Also, make sure you are setting some time aside quarterly to revisit tactics. For example, you might find that your organization is getting a high return on investment in Google AdWords, but not with Facebook Ads. You can always re-allocate your budget to the tactics that are performing best.

Aligning your goals and budget will allow you to create an effective marketing plan that fits your social enterprise’s individual needs this year. Now that you have a better idea of what your marketing budget should look like, it’s time to get work on developing a marketing plan. If you want even more advice on developing your marketing budget, take a look at our budgeting guide for nonprofits, Seven Deadly Nonprofit Budgeting Sins. Or, get started with your social enterprise marketing plan using our template.


Our marketing plan template is your roadmap to setting an appropriate marketing budget.  

The most effective way to set and adhere to a realistic marketing budget is to align your budget closely with your organization’s overarching goals. Download our Social Enterprise Marketing Plan Template today to begin allocating your budget toward marketing tactics critical for success.


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