Realistic Strategies for the [Overworked] Nonprofit Marketer

4 min read

I get it. As a former nonprofit marketer, I understand the eye roll you’ve given when you spent your tiny (but appreciated) professional development money on a conference intended for those with one major responsibility—not twenty. You’re likely a marketing/development director or a marketing/event coordinator or EVEN a marketing/development/special event/public relations wizard.

I would like to say two things to you. First, you are kicking ass and you should get a pat on the back way more often than you do. Second, you can’t do it all. No one can. So here are some approaches for making the most out of what little time you have.

Let’s begin with a simple question:

How much time do you realistically have for your digital marketing responsibilities? Does 30 minutes per day sound about right? Awesome. That’s better than nothing. Here’s what I would suggest you do each week:

Each Monday – Evaluate your options.

Maybe you spend a few minutes checking out alternative email-marketing services. Here are a few I am familiar (and in no way affiliated) with:

  • MyEmma offers nonprofits a 20% discount on their standard email packages as well as granting “Emma25” scholarships each year, which provide winners with a lifetime of free access to the MyEmma email marketing software.
  • The Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) integrates with Salesforce so your programmatic and marketing databases can live as one. The two gel together amicably and you won’t have to deal with a third (yes, I know you hate your donor-management software) database.
  • Mailchimp offers industry benchmarks within analytics and boasts integration capabilities with Raiser’s Edge. Additionally, Mailchimp is very intuitive and allows you to manipulate content easily. Their nonprofit section has a lot of great information to get you started.

Each Tuesday – Measure the return on your efforts.

Measure your effectiveness on social media and SEO.

  • Evaluate the returns you’re seeing from each network your organization is present on. Do you have better luck sharing programmatic information on Facebook or on Twitter? Spend ten minutes each week measuring the previous week’s successes and shortcomings and make an effort to adjust your strategies accordingly. For bonus points, take another five minutes reading this article for ideas on how to mix your messaging appropriately across platforms.
  • See how your website ranks organically with tools like SEMRush and Moz. Keep track of your progress and reflect to see which strategies pay off for your organization.

Each Wednesday – Freshen up your content.

Write a blog, refresh outdated copy, or update images as your programmatic options change. Here are some topics to consider for a blog:

  • Upcoming events
  • Spotlight on celebrities who advocate for your cause (e.g. showing appreciation to Josh Groban for his dedication to arts education)
  • Thank you posts for your volunteers, staff, and board of directors
  • Fundraising asks and donor stewardship letters
  • Guest blogs by interns, colleagues, volunteers, and board members
  • Success stories
  • Legislation or policy issues

Each Thursday – Get resourceful.

Are you making use of all of the marketing tools that are available to you?

  • Check out Google Grants and apply to earn up to $10,000 per month in in-kind AdWords advertising. (WHOA, thanks Google!)
  • Check out a free webinar hosted specifically for Nonprofit Marketing professionals. Social Media for Nonprofits is hosting “How Social Media Powers Event Registration & Engagement,” featuring a Marketing Manager from Eventbrite, on August 19th.
  • Find awesome (and FREE) stock photos from Unsplash. New pictures, like the one I used above, are added every ten days.
  • Spend a few minutes learning from an expert in an online class about digital marketing, email marketing, or branding. Skillshare offers free and premium versions, the latter for $10 per month.
  • Use HootSuite to schedule your social posts for the week and keep tabs on how you are doing by enabling your news feeds within the HootSuite tab of your browser. There, you can manage most of your social platforms within one tab on your browser.

Each Thursday – Perform a mini competitive audit.

How does your organization stack up against its competitors?

  • Select a few competitors (those who rival you for donors, volunteers, or funders) and look through their websites and social media platforms to see how your content stacks up. Identify strategies that are working for them and transform them to match your own brand and mission. Use Hubspot’s Competitor Analysis Chart to determine ways to get ahead.
  • Identify one top organization as your marketing superhero. Keep tabs on their efforts and see how you can rework their strategies to match your budget and capabilities.

Each Friday – Chip away at the big picture.

Build partnerships. Tackle a section on that case study you’ve been meaning to get to. Outline an editorial calendar for the month ahead. Send a killer press release to media personalities and producers. Rewrite a few title tags and meta descriptions within your site. Do something to refresh your excitement for the awesome work your organization is doing for its community.

Hopefully, these recommendations can help you outline your strategy as you move through the weeks ahead. Get creative, and let us know how you’re using the schedule to reboot your marketing plan.

Good luck!