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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Top 10 Reasons Why your Nonprofit Needs a Marketing Plan
Elaine Acker

May, 2012

In 2008, while I was working for the American Red Cross of Central Texas, we faced a funding crisis. One of our major funders had changed their funding model, suddenly leaving us with a $240,000 budget deficit as the new fiscal year began. 

To meet this daunting challenge, we integrated our fund development and marketing plans, and adopted the new mantra, “no missed opportunities!” 

Over the course of the following year, we discovered the top 10 reasons nonprofit organizations need a strong marketing plan to support fund-development efforts. 

10. Storytelling – The heart of fundraising and communications is great storytelling. By writing your organization’s messages and best stories into your marketing plan, your entire staff can pull together in telling the story of who you are and how people can get involved in helping you achieve your mission.

9. Maximizing seasonal opportunities – Every year, there are countless seasonal marketing opportunities, from Mother’s Day to National Accordion Awareness Month (yes, really). By adding seasonal opportunities to your marketing calendar, you ensure that you’ve thought through, in advance, the best ways to reach niche audiences with seasonally-focused campaigns.

8. Building credibility – One of your best assets should be your reputation in your community, whether you’re a local, regional, or national organization. When you use marketing techniques to build your credibility, you’re telling donors that their donations pay big dividends for their community.

7. Establishing leadership – Even better than being credible is being recognized as the leader in your field. The right marketing tools give you a chance to share your knowledge and become the “go to” expert in the field (especially with the media).

6. Raising volunteers – According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.7 million Americans, or 26.5 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $173 billion in 2010. If you’re excited about your mission and you’re sharing that through effective marketing, you’ll find yourself attracting new, enthusiastic volunteers, who will donate their valuable time and skills to support you.

5. Raising friends – By “friends,” I mean people who will say nice things about you in public, introduce you to influential new donors, invite you to community events, and open doors. What friendships would mean the most to your organization?

4. Raising visibility – Visibility equals awareness, and advertising experts know that consumers need to see and hear your message from three to ten times before they take action. A solid marketing plan can ensure that you remain in the spotlight all year long.

3. Raising revenues – Revenues are the ultimate goal of marketing, because without revenues, you won’t be around to serve those you care about most. By analyzing your budget and carefully crafting a strategy for both earned and donated revenues, you’ll have a roadmap for success.

2. Measurability – How do you define success? Deciding how to measure your success gives you an important decision-making tool when evaluating how well you’ve invested your time and dollars. A critical evaluation of every event, campaign, and marketing tool will ensure that you continue to learn as your plan evolves.

1. Sustainability – Having a marketing plan makes you proactive, rather than reactive, and ensures that you have a sustainable source of volunteers, friends, and revenues to support your mission for years to come. 

As CEO of RealSparx, one of my personal goals is to help nonprofits create sustainability through effective marketing plans. I want all nonprofits to experience the same success that our team at the American Red Cross shared: In one year, we made the most of every opportunity for publicity and fundraising, and not only bridged the $240,000 gap, but ended the year with a $300,000 budget surplus. 

What would an energized marketing plan mean to your organization? 

Email Elaine to ask ask questions or share your feedback!

Learn more by watching this interesting video at 


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