Kivi Leroux Miller is an author, trainer, coach, consultant, and president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com. If you’re in nonprofit communications and marketing and you don’t know about her–change that right now and check out her new book–The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause. (It’s already a smash hit on Amazon.)
I’ve been a long time admirer of Kivi’s, and am delighted to have IMPACTMAX be part of her virtual book tour. I hope you enjoy her guest post. I’ll be talking more about her comprehensive book in a future post.
Through my weekly webinar series, I get to talk to hundreds of nonprofit marketing and communications staff over the course of a year, and the challenges and frustrations I hear the most are not about any particular tool like email newsletters or Facebook, but about much bigger issues:
“I’m pulled in so many different directions, I don’t know what to do and what really matters.”
“We’ve never really had a marketing budget and I don’t expect to get one anytime soon. We just dig around and borrow from other line items.”
“I feel like it’s impossible to keep up with everything I’m supposed to be the expert on for my organization.”
When I was writing my just-released book “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause,” I knew it was important to go beyond marketing strategy and tactics and talk to these questions as well. That’s why the last section of the book is called Doing It Yourself without Doing Yourself In. It contains three chapters that cover what I think are the biggest challenges for nonprofit marketers: finding and managing time, talent, and treasure.
Every project or program, no matter how big or small, depends on a mix of these three ingredients. How much time can you devote to marketing, and how can you get others to offer their time? What can you do yourself, what other talent do you have on staff, and what tasks do you need to hire out? How much money do you have available and how should you spend it? Figure out creative ways to answer these questions and you’ve got it made.
In the meantime, here are a few suggestions that I elaborate on in the book.
- Get fear out of the way. Nonprofits waste much too much time hand-wringing.
- Organize what you’ll need again and again. Get your logos, mission statement, bios, and other boilerplate text all in one folder on your computer.
- Test, track, and do what works. If you aren’t measuring how the different parts of your communications plan are working and adjusting them regularly, you are probably wasting a lot of time on things that don’t work while short-changing the things that do.
- Everyone on staff is a marketer. Whether they (or you) like it or not, everyone talks about work outside the office, thus everyone on staff is part of your marketing team. Educate them and empower them to help you.
- Learn to delegate. If you are control freak, you are doomed to working really, really long hours for never enough pay. Learn to let go and delegate some of what you do to volunteers, junior staff, or affordable consultants.
- Build your own skills. Nonprofit marketing is a complicated job. To do it well, you need to incorporate learning and professional development into your regular routine. I’d rather see you spend 30 minutes a week reading the many outstanding blogs in our field (like this one) than attending a three-day conference once a year. (It’s about the same amount of time).
- Go casual. If you still have a Casual Friday mindset, it’s time to go to Casual Monday-Friday. Formality is expensive, and it usually stifles creativity. Many people appreciate a more friendly tone and approach and it’s usually a lot cheaper, whether you are buying print or hosting an event.
- Do more online. Print still has its place, but it’s not cheap. So you need to be more strategic about what you put on paper and in the mail and continue to move more of your communications online.
- Put it in the budget. You need a real budget to work with. Start including communications line items in every possible grant proposal you can. Develop a short list of individual major donors and corporate sponsors who understand the need for marketing and would be willing to donate to you specifically for it.
As for this blog, and my rather long absence. . .blame my consulting work, which has overtaken me. But I hope to back to a more regular posting schedule later this summer.