How much should you spend on marketing as a nonprofit?
There’s no typical nonprofit marketing budget. And before you say, “my nonprofit doesn’t need one”, let me highlight a simple fact that nonprofits of every size and shape require some sort of marketing, communications, and fundraising support to advance their missions.
We’ve already discussed some of the ways nonprofits can market well on a small budget. Creating superb email content that converts, telling compelling beneficiary stories to the little things like how you talk to a prospect donor and welcome them.
It’s a no brainer that a percentage should be allocated to marketing but the issue most nonprofits & social enterprises face is how much should be spent & whether it will be worth it.
As we answer the big question, in this article, we’ll look at 3 aspects that help answer it:
- Defining your marketing goals
- Setting a marketing budget
- How to spend your budget wisely
Defining your marketing goals
Anything worth doing is done consistently and deliberately. Before you approach era92 to do your digital marketing, have an internal meeting to nail down your why. Why do we want to communicate more? What do we hope to achieve out of it? Is it to get more donors, donations, more international partners?
Here are some examples of goals that might apply to your organization. To startup nonprofits, goals may read like this;
- Raise brand awareness
- Establish trust & credibility
- Generate support for key projects
- Attract donors and encourage their support
- Attract volunteers and community support
While to bigger organisations, their goals may read like;
- Retain donors and encourage monthly support
- Generate support for all-year round campaigns
- Encourage repetitive donations
- Run massive global campaigns all year round
- Grow revenues for their e-charity store
It’s important to know what you want as this makes it easier for the agency you’re working with to design you the best service packages. Instead of asking for one off services, first consult your agency on how best you can grow wholesomely.
With each of the goals you have set, the agency will match it with the right marketing tools. Then when you can’t raise the budget, you atleast pick 2 goals out of the 5 and focus on those. It will be worth more than random one-off services.
Setting a marketing budget
If you’re looking to be an effective nonprofit, you’ll have a dedicated marketing budget rather than allocating it sporadically.
A dedicated budget sets things straight. You won’t even have cases where you overspent or intruded on other projects’ budgets.
The different types of marketing budgets
Allocating a percentage
Assigning a percentage of your total revenue/donations to marketing has proven most effective. Knowing that 10% of the $10,000 we receive in donations is specifically for marketing helps you plan better and allows you to track and measure the impact of your marketing investment easily.
This method is most common with startups who have not yet started earning regular donations. So, it’s hard to determine how much you’ll be getting even in the next 3 months so this method could be for you.
If the idea of allocating a 10% of operating budget is nerve-wracking, you can always start with a comfortable percentage then layer on the incremental method, where you regularly (often quarterly or bi-annually) track and assess performance, then increase or decrease accordingly.
How to spend your marketing budget wisely
Ignoring marketing stifles nonprofit expansion, which actually reduces your ability to help more people.
Marketing is only worth it if you spend those dollars wisely. So how do you do it?
Look at value over the amount of services you’re getting.
Yes, you could be getting 10 web redesigns, 15 social media posters but of what value are they? How valuable is the content you’re putting up on the website or in those social media posts? Can it engage users? Of course the more valuable something is, the higher it’s priced because it takes more effort and tools to put it together.
You’d rather spend on a package that gives you less in quantity but more in value so, don’t be afraid to spend what it takes if it will give you the value you want.
Knowing how much to spend is first and foremost entirely up to the goals you set. They determine how much you can invest and when you find yourself stuck, you prioritize and hit one goal at a time. Still can’t gauge just how much your nonprofit should spend on a marketing agency? Connect with our digital projects lead to discuss your organization goals & get a personalized quote.
Tess Hazel is the copywriter at era92 Creative. She loves to read novels and runs a personal blog about poetry and creative nonfiction short stories.