Marketing is often an afterthought for many nonprofits, and convincing a board of directors of its importance can be a challenging task.
Ann, an executive director from a Central New York nonprofit relates just how challenging this can be.
“My Board is never very supportive of our marketing efforts and they don’t see how important this can be to our success,” she says. “It’s a challenge to approve the budget to create materials and the website we so desperately need. I’m frustrated because at each board meeting it’s discussed how we need to secure more donors, the big-time donors, and have better turn out at our events. My Board just doesn’t make the connection that without marketing ourselves, people don’t really know who we are or our impact on the community.”
Here are some steps to help a board of directors make marketing a priority:
Hold board training
Utilize a communications consultant to train the board to understand the benefits of developing marketing strategies to promote the impact and message of the organization.
Sometimes an outside perspective is necessary for the board to understand the value of marketing and for added support of the CEO or executive director’s ideas.
Diversify the board of directors
Seek out new board members from the private sector that either have a marketing and communications background or that utilize marketing effectively in their businesses.
Diversifying the board can help with marketing, fund development, finance and many other challenges that nonprofits face.
Develop a marketing plan
Work with the board to develop a marketing plan for the organization to lay the foundation for marketing efforts. Don’t forget to include marketing in the overall organizational strategic plan.
Include communications in grant proposals
Always include a communications piece in all grant proposals to help build a marketing budget. Also, seek local business support to help underwrite marketing efforts.
Show concrete results
Relate the impact of marketing efforts in a language boards can understand. Instead of stating a goal to increase the awareness of XYZ nonprofit, state the goal in a measurable way.
Through marketing efforts, as determined in the marketing plan, XYZ nonprofit will develop 4 new media contacts this year, increase foundation support by 20 percent and have 150 attendees at an event.
Keep the Board updated on the progress and evaluate whether the marketing strategies utilized are effective.
Most importantly, show the return on investment of marketing efforts.
Stacy Jones is a nonprofit marketing consultant based in Troy, N.Y. and a Shoestring Creative Group Network Affiliate. Stacy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.835.6236.