6 Steps to Showcasing Your Marketing ROI

6 Steps to Showcasing Your Marketing ROII was really jolted by this Ask Nancy query I recently received. Jessica (names have been changed to protect the innocent) asks for help with the most challenging (and most critical) step in nonprofit marketing — getting the support of decision makers and colleagues for doing it right.

Q: Help — We're losing ground past and we need professional marketing help. How do I get the budget and support to get it?
My organization has been in existence since the 1960s, longer than any other environmental group in the state. But, like many nonprofits, we've never been good at marketing ourselves, and therefore don't have the membership base we need. As a result, we're beginning to lose our historical advantage.
We clearly need professional marketing help. I'm an implementer, but I'd be far more effective working with a marketing expert who has analyzed our challenges and designed a strategy for me to implement. While leadership recognizes our need for professional marketing help, they are not moving forward in that
direction. Help!   
Jessica, Outreach Manager, State Natural Resources Council

Believe me, lack of support isn't uncommon, especially now when tensions are high and budgets low. Many nonprofit professionals either don't understand or doubt the value (or, in some cases, the seemliness) of marketing. Others see value in marketing but are in the "just do it" camp, not understanding that professionalism is as essential here as in other fields. It is these organizations that are frequently eclipsed by competitors in membership, fundraising and awareness. As a result, their impact is significantly limited.

Build support for marketing in your org by learning how to showcase your marketing ROI (return on investment). Read my guide to building support for doing marketing right today.

Flickr Photo: William Hartz

Nancy Schwartz on May 28, 2009 in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation | 4 comments
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  • Lea

    Has Jessica tried getting the marketing committee and the marketing expert on her board to make the appeal that a full-time strategic marketing professional is needed? The volunteers’ expertise could lend leverage to Jessica’s request for an expert marketing staff member.

  • Jillaine

    Nancy, what was it about her query that jolted you? For me, it would be that very little has changed in 20+ years of trying to help nonprofits improve their strategies in order to be more effective.

  • Libby

    How do you effectively demonstrate ROI when your end result may take years to accomplish? We are a community organizing group and much of our work does have direct local impact, but the end goal is to change bad state policies. It’s not as simple as your gift of $5,000 will help feed 500 children for “x” number of months. Nor can we say your gift of $5,000 will pass xyz legislation. We have had a huge impact in our state during our 34 years of existence, but it’s hard to put a dollar value on some of the work we do. Does anyone have suggestions about how to talk to donors about ROI in a more abstract sense during annual fundraising and membership campaigns?

  • Dan Hutson

    It never ceases to amaze me when a board of directors populated by successful business people doesn’t insist on professional marketing and brand development. And yet it happens all the time.
    Maybe it would seem less “unseemly” if we framed the conversation entirely around communication rather than marketing. Unfortunately, the statement that “improving communication with our stakeholders is a top priority” is rarely backed up by the resources to execute.

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