NEW Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template—Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing


Download a copy of the template to customize for your organization.

Insights are your key to marketing that’s more relevant than ever. Simply dive into this insight-driven approach to marketing planning—built on the rock-solid foundation of relevance—to connect more quickly and strongly with supporters and partners, and to motivate them to take the actions you need (to give, volunteer, sign a petition or…).

This Template outlines a marketing planning process driven by three types of insights you gather, learn from and act on now to shape an initial plan, and on an ongoing basis to ensure your approach stays relevant.

Follow the clear path outlined below, focusing on these three insight action items, to get to the right marketing actions for your organization to take right now. Then repeat the insight action items on an ongoing basis to ensure your marketing remains relevant to your audiences as their wants and preferences, and the environment in which you work, change over time. That’s right-things, right-now marketing.

This approach guarantees right-things, right-now marketing for the duration. It will highlight priorities and not-worth-its-whiles,  diminish those annoying fears that you’re not doing the right thing, build your personal confidence and skills, and boost your organization’s marketing impact now. Relevance rules!

Part One: Your Organization

a.    Goals—What you want to accomplish

  • Organizational Goals: What are your organization’s main one to three goals for the next 12 to 18 months?
  • Marketing Goals: What are your one to three marketing goals (how you’ll use marketing to reach those organizational goals)?


    • Organizational goal for Environmental Health Partners (EHP)
      • Improve regional health by significantly reducing exposure to toxic chemicals—lead in homes, bay contamination, and air pollution from trucks, ships, power plants and other sources.
    • Marketing goals
      • Build awareness about EHP’s work and impact.
      • Motivate 15 area residents to attend a two-part community meeting (to be held in each of four neighborhoods in the region), to build their understanding of the relationship between health and the environment and train them as effective advocates.
      • Forge partnerships with key partner organizations in the region with existing relationships with citizens and policymakers.

 → Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing Action Item

b. Situation Analysis—Conditions inside and outside your organization

  • What is the environment in which you’re working—competitor and colleague orgs, marketing audit, policies and more?

You can assess the situation in several ways:

      • Environmental scan: What policies, practices, or other factors could help or hurt your marketing success?
      • Competitive analysis: What are other organizations providing in terms of content, programs and resources? How successful are they?
      • Audience research: What does your audience think about your organization, its work and/or the issues you work on?
      • Marketing audit: What current marketing work is succeeding, and what needs to change and how?
      • Internal audit: What are the perceptions, hopes, ideas and concerns of staff and leadership in relation to the marketing agenda?
  • Gather Insights from data, what you know/see/hear, and asking and listening.
  • Use them to shape your marketing plan, then update it regularly to keep it relevant.

c. Calls to Action—What you want your audiences to do

What do you want your target audiences to do to achieve your marketing goals? Be specific.


  • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
  • Like our Facebook page and share your question there.
  • Participate in our community meeting.
  • Share your story.
  • Learn about environmental dangers in and around your home.
  • Collaborate on a project with us.

Download a copy of the template to customize for your organization.

Part Two: Your People-Target Audiences & Segments

  • Who are they? Who are the one to three groups of people whose help you need AND are most likely to help OR most risky not to engage?

Alert: If you try to reach everyone, you will fail to engage anyone well.

→ Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing Action Item

a.   What are their points of view? What do your target audiences want and care about, so you can connect with them?

  • Gather Insights from data, what you know/see/hear, and asking and listening.
  • Use them to shape your marketing plan, then to update it regularly to keep it relevant.
  • How can you segment them, so you can reach them most effectively? How does each group break out into one to three segments (that share perspectives, habits and wants)?


    • Target audience: County residents—Build their understanding of the environmental health dangers in the region and how they can improve the situation, so they are motivated to advocate for cleaner environmental behavior on the part of corporations.  Their main want—for their children to stay healthy.
      • Segments: Parents of children 12 and under; parents of children 12 to 18; school administrators; homeowners.
    • Target audience: Staff members and leadership of prospective partner orgs working in the region—Build understanding of EHP’s role and impact in fighting for community health so prospective partners see the partnership as providing value to their own impact, and want to collaborate.
      • Segments: Staff and leadership of organizations serving the communities within the region that are most at risk; staff and leadership of other regionally-focused environmental organizations; neighborhood home owner associations.

Part Three: Your Messages, Methods & Tactics

a.    Framing the Message—Benefit Exchange and Barriers to the Call to Action

  • Benefit Exchange: Why should your supporters care? What’s it in for them?


      • Seek to ensure that their children, other family members and friends are healthy.
      • Want to ensure property values.
  • Barriers:  What’s in the way of you motivating the actions you want supporters to take?


      • Industry owners in the region have implemented well-resourced campaigns to promise safe and healthy living to residents.
      • Parents have too many choices and time constraints.
      • Partners don’t really trust us yet.

b.    Best Methods—To achieve your marketing goals

  • How can you best motivate your supporters to act? Options are: Branding / Positioning, Message Development, Content Creation, Training, Relationship Building, Community Building and Organizing


    • Build the network: Nurture relationships with prospective “supporters” within relevant local organizations, from the Lions Club to the Chamber of Commerce.
    • Message development: Shape and deliver messages that will clarify for, connect with and engage your audiences. Consistent, memorable messaging helps your base to keep your organization top of mind, recognize its relevance to them, and spread the word about it.

c.    Best Tactics—To put your methods into action

How can you connect with your supporters via these methods, e.g. the nitty-gritty? Will be based on your target audiences’ habits and preferences, as well as which tactics work best to achieve your goals.


  • Message development—Audience research; write positioning statement, tagline, talking points; test and refine; develop style guide, train staff and board on messaging, develop style guide; launch.
  • Standards guide—Create a guide (PDF) for staff and volunteer messengers to use to make decisions on messaging and “look and feel” of communications.
  • Develop a one-page “leave behind” flyer summarizing the value of partnering for prospective partners, and a series of follow up emails (to follow in-person visits to prospective partner organizations).

Part Four: Put It All Together

a.    Resources—What it takes

  • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Who does what?
    • Existing staff or new staff? Outsource? Social capital (board members, volunteers, other connections)?
    • How much time will it take?
    • Training needed?
  • Budget
    • How much does your plan cost?
    • Ideal to begin planning process with an idea of what you can spend so you can plan realistically.
    • Goal is to develop an understanding of greatest ROI (return on investment) by tracking expenditures and results in coming year, to inform planning for the following year.

b.  Benchmarks and Measurement— Get to goal & stay on the path to move supporters

  • Benchmarks: What are three to five concrete, specific and measurable (when possible) steps to complete en route to achieving each marketing goals? Warning—Vague benchmarks will get you nowhere.


    • Finalize partnerships with two organizations to cross-promote advocacy campaigns within the next six months.
    • Initiate building six additional partnerships.
    • Increase the number of incoming inquiries (coming from a partner org website, a volunteer advocate or another source) from prospective volunteer advocates by 10% in 2014 and by 15% additional in 2015.

→ Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing Action Item

  • Measurements: How to measure how you’re doing against your benchmarks?  You need to know:
    • What is working best so your org can do more of it?
    • What targets are engaged and which segments do you need to engage differently?
    • What content is most compelling to your base?
    • What messaging generates action and what fails to motivate?


    • Incoming inquiries.
    • Website usage analytics: “What are the most visited pages on your site” to “What keywords are users searching on to get to your site?”
    • Response rate to direct mail, telemarketing.
    • Open and click through rates to e-mail fundraising and other e-communications.
    • Online survey findings and other audience research.
    • Change in volume of incoming inquiries from each source (website, volunteer referral) in 2015.
  • Gather Insights from data, what you know/see/hear, and asking and listening.
  • Use them to shape your marketing plan, then to update it regularly to keep it relevant.

c.   Step-by-Step Work Plan—Start with a 30-day plan, begin implementation build out your plan to  90 days

  • What do you need to do to build understanding, buy-in and participation among leadership and colleagues? Then what?
  • Elements: Every discrete task that needs to be done, who tackles each task, start date and deadline for each task.

Download a copy of the template to customize for your organization.