I get the calls. I get the calls from panicked non-profit executive directors.
First of all, let me say, they have an impossible job. For some reason, expectations are added to their job descriptions that no CEO would ever be asked to do.
While they occupy the lead visionary and implementer roles within their organization, they are also expected to act as CFO and CMO. They are brand ambassadors, development officers, and make most of the major “asks”. While they may have a bookkeeper on staff, most don’t have anyone performing financial forecasts, managing stewardship, or guiding long-term financial growth through foundation development.
While they may have a development officer or development staffer, they will still act as the chief development officer managing a portfolio of donors and foundations that require relationship building. If you asked a salesperson to cultivate relationships with 60 prospects, it would be considered a full-time job. However, non-profit executive directors are regularly asked to do this while performing their other role responsibilities.
Then we come to the role of chief marketing officer. It is this role that I get the calls on. (I have past experience as an executive director, development officer and marketing manager for several non-profits.) In many cases, marketing a non-profit has facets that even the most robust budget and experienced CMO would struggle to achieve. Brand awareness, event publicity, donor relationships, program visibility, client engagement, and fundraising initiatives all require multi-layer strategy as well as tactic implementation.
Experienced CMOs performing these kinds of tasks would have support teams with skill sets that would bring top dollar in the for-profit space. So, many non-profit directors are beginning to utilize fractional services to gain the leverage of strategy and expertise as well as the support teams that can implement.
While the utilization of a fractional CMO is not the only fractional service many E.D.s and their boards are utilizing, it is by far one of the first they will seek in order to help the non-profit executive manage their role and grow the impact and influence of the non-profit organization.
Here is why:
It Takes People to Raise Dollars
If you are approaching non-profit marketing solely from event publicity, you will not engage donors who are more committed to mission than social engagements.
Most non-profits require four pillars of funding: Events, individual gifts, sponsorship/business gifts, and grants/foundations.
If you only use publicity for events, you miss the opportunity to educate potential donors on mission. In addition, showcasing corporate donors allows them to enhance their culture and philanthropic efforts through your marketing. Relationship building through marketing is essential. However, due to volunteer efforts or sporadic staff efforts, many of these opportunities are missed.
You Don’t Just Need Dollars
In order for the mission of the non-profit to be achieved, services must be rendered. In many cases, marketing must also reach the ideal client as well as donor. Program education and information sharing because key.
Because many ideal clients will have limited access to more mainstream marketing, a fractional CMO will have other tactics that can better reach unique demographics. If your marketing channels don’t reach the desired audience, it won’t matter what the mission of the non-profit is. It won’t show a proven track record of success with clients.
Marketing for multiple audiences is a challenge. Don’t think you just need a one-size-fits-all approach.
Creating the Cause
You need volunteers. You need donors. You need clients. You need people passionate about your non-profit’s mission. Cause marketing is not only about an identifiable brand. It is also about creating a way for people to engage with your mission. It is about helping create a reputation for integrity and service. It is about developing and educating people to be advocates at both the grassroots level as well as more politically charged levels.
All causes start with focused passion. What is the problem and what is the best way to correct the problem? However, as your donor, volunteer, and client base grow, you need to address more than simple problem solving. You must create legacy, growth, and longevity to truly make impact.
Realistically Evaluate Your Executive Director’s Time and Effort
If you are a member of a board of directors supporting, guiding, and growing a non-profit, you need to realistically evaluate if your executive director’s time and effort is being utilized well. By allowing them to focus on long-term vision, program oversight, and assist in the development needs of the organization, you may need to add the services of a fractional CMO to really gain the traction desired to move the mission forward and grow impact.
By the way, take some time today and thank the leadership and staff of those impacting our communities through non-profits. They provide a valuable service to so many. We should never take them for granted.
About the Author
Amy House, M.Ed., is a business success coach, vlogger, blogger, speaker, and the founder of Growin’ Out Loud Darlin’. As a business consultant, coach, and trainer, she is an expert at helping business owners, executives, and teams find the achievement and fulfillment they desire in business and life. With over 20+ years of marketing and business development in the real world and entrepreneurial experience building her consulting, coaching, and marketing firm, she knows a little “something something” about what it takes to grow out loud! She is a Steel Magnolia and brings that sassy YaYa wisdom to help your business Grow Out Loud, Darlin’.