Create a non-profit marketing strategy
1. Evaluate current marketing and understand organizational goals. Review internal documents, speak with the marketing department, senior leadership, and board.
Understand current marketing efforts by asking: How are we communicating with the public and those whom we serve? What have been past marketing goals, and what strategies have we used to try to achieve them? What’s been successful and what hasn’t? What marketing resources do we have available internally? What do we need? What should we be doing differently? Understand organizational goals by asking: How much money are we wanting to raise this year? Are there non-monetary goals for our non-profit? For example, raising awareness, developing partnerships, coordinating volunteer efforts?
2. Identify and profile your primary and secondary audiences, target donors, and potential partners.
Start with your primary audience — those to whom your nonprofit offers services. Identify secondary audiences as those who can indirectly benefit from your nonprofit’s services or who can help you achieve your mission. Profile your target donor. What are they passionate about? Where do their interests intersect with your non-profit’s mission? For example, readers of Outside Magazine are a likely fit for an environmental non-profit. Understand potential partners for your non-profit. Corporations, interest groups, and other non-profits can be important drivers of your marketing goals.
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your position in the current environment and prioritize a marketing strategy. Use the results of your SWOT analysis to identify areas of unique opportunity for your non-profit.
For example, if your board members are well-connected, a partnership strategy may work well. If your analysis uncovers other non-profits with similar messaging and focus, you may need to clarify your positioning and messaging.
4. On a quarterly or yearly basis, create specific, measurable goals for each area of focus.
For example, you might want to increase the number of donors on your email list by 15% in Q2, or get 5 press mentions over the next 12 months.
5. Create a marketing calendar that includes projects designed to improve ongoing efforts as well as launch specific campaigns.
For example, during Q3, you may plan a back-to school campaign and an audit of your welcome email series based on donor interviews you conduct.
6. Build a simple dashboard that tracks a few key performance indicators that correlate to progress toward your marketing goals.
Consider metrics such as: Number of donations Average donation size % of donations that are ongoing vs. one-time Number of email subscribers Number of press mentions Number of emails sent by partners.
7. Plan the campaigns, improvements, and tactics you'll use to achieve each goal.
Plan ahead for major campaigns in order to ensure they run smoothly and have maximum impact. For example, you may start planning a holiday giving campaign in Q3 to ensure you have time to get key partners on board and test creative. Balance tactics that have previously worked well for your non-profit with some level of experimentation on new channels to increase your reach. For example, if you’ve relied heavily on email and it works well, double-down by introducing a refer-a-friend campaign, but test direct mail to a similar audience. Consider available internal resources, as well as what outside resources you may need.
8. When completed, discuss your proposed strategic marketing plan with your senior leadership or board for feedback and approval.
Present your initial plan with a slide deck or document that clearly lays out your strategy, gives specific examples of campaigns you’ll use to bring it to life, and ties your marketing strategy back to organizational goals. Include your budget, things you’ll need — for example, resources, assistance from board members with introductions. Get formal approval on the plan, and also establish the cadence you’ll use to check in. For example, you may decide to send quarterly emails updating board members or the leadership team on progress, and have a mid-year check-in meeting to discuss and re-calibrate.