by Kit Dahltorp

The marketing budget is the toughest sell to any nonprofit board and when you already have a dedicated marketing department, even if it’s a department of one, asking for an additional investment in marketing is often met with blank stares. The benefit of consistent investment in marketing your organization is not often well understood, or worse completely overlooked, but this leaves many worthy causes to flounder with inconsistent marketing that lacks a cohesive strategy. If you aren’t partnered with a purpose driven ad agency you are missing the chance to connect with and grow your donor base, support your staff and get the results that will help you grow and make the greatest difference.

Consistency and a cohesive strategy

The scope of a truly successful marketing strategy is vast. You need an effective brand identity, a website, a social media presence, and separate strategies for paid and owned media just to name a few. All of which need to be maintained and optimized consistently over the years. You might be saying, okay, that’s five things. I can do five things, and perhaps you can, but consider that if you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts it will require more than just creating any old website, or boosting a few Facebook posts. To be efficient with your time and dollars each needs a bespoke strategy which should be built by someone who can build a game plan around insights and their own expertise, otherwise you are wasting time and money that could be used toward your cause more effectively to drive donations. 

Access to experts on a budget 

Nonprofit marketing teams wear an incredible number of hats. You know just enough and about almost every marketing discipline to be dangerous but you also know you can’t be an expert in everything. If developing a paid media strategy feels a little overwhelming you would not be alone. Knowing you don’t have the budget to hire, but that you need outside experts to really use your marketing dollar effectively, it may be tempting to keep a small army of very reasonably priced contractors helping you across disciplines and projects. While that feels like an easier sell to your board, let’s revisit the cohesion of this plan. Your contractors or even interns are almost always working in silos and may turn over often, never truly strategizing together ensuring a holistic approach. A dedicated agency can help you consolidate and grant you access to experts in every discipline working together and as a bonus the time you spend managing contractors will shrink to a single partnership to maintain. 

Stronger Results: A Larger Pie means Bigger Slices

The nonprofit playbook is often misunderstood. You know that while nonprofits care deeply about ROI and their bottom line, the key complicating difference is that the bottom line measures how much good you are able to do. The stakes of the bottom line feel particularly high when your donors are counting on seeing their donation making a difference. Your board is also likely skeptical of approving a larger marketing budget. When you look at a pie chart of the yearly spending stakeholders don’t like that marketing slice to look too big, but this is the thinking that’s limiting your growth. A larger pie means bigger slices all around and consider that even a small well planned paid media plan can fill your lead gen net faster than any intern’s boosted facebook post. An agency investment feels large but will get you results that mean an ever increasing piece of the pie for your cause.

Improved Mental Health for Your Team

Another less measurable benefit of working with an agency is the burden it can remove from your team. It’s pretty well known that if doing good is your purpose in life then working for a nonprofit, at its best, is exceptionally rewarding. Spending your 9 – 5 (or sometimes 7) working toward a better world, a cause you care about, makes those hard days so much more meaningful and much easier to bounce back from. What isn’t talked about as often is that everyone on staff is at their max, often doing the job of 3 different departments. It certainly has its advantages. You’re scrappy, you’re nimble but you’re also very very tired. Saving the world doesn’t make you immune to burnout. A great agency partner can ease your stress while simultaneously growing your impact.

The right ad agency can be your secret weapon that makes your organization smarter and more nimble, eases pressure on your staff, decreases turnover, and gets results that will have your board and your donors ready for more! Feeling inspired? Come chat with Amelie!