Written by: Randye S Spina, MBA
Reading Time: 4 minutes
I’ve served on several nonprofit boards in marketing and communications roles and have seen first-hand that marketing is often an afterthought. Even for nonprofits lucky enough to have healthy budgets, it’s often the most misunderstood function.
Board members can have expertise in ANY function and still support the marketing effort to set an example for volunteers, donors, supporters, and grantors by publicly supporting your organization’s mission and why your stakeholders’ hard-earned dollars should flow to you versus other causes your donors may also believe in.
With just a little planning (and maybe some training), this is my list of high-impact tactics for boards to support the marketing function in helping to build a solid foundation for growth:
First, have regular marketing check-ins. An easy way to do this is to set aside a slot on each board meeting agenda to discuss marketing. Especially if there’s just one person doing this work, they need the board’s support. It warrants investing time on agendas for thoughtful discussions to keep this all-important function on everyone’s radar.
Second, I highly recommend creating (and using) a Marketing Calendar to share in a Google Doc or other shared platform such as Basecamp or Asana. This is the best way to stay on target with all communications and marketing messaging. For example, if a board member is speaking at a conference, or has been published, won an award, got a promotion, etc. should be added to the document. These are all good fodder for blog posts, email newsletters, social media, annual impact reports, etc. And, the content can be repurposed for use across channels.
Third, is social media. This must be done with frequency and care to garner high rates of engagement. The last thing you’d want a potential donor or supporter to see are posts without any board support. Board members should follow the organization’s pages and be generous liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. Be proactive and use a platform’s messaging/chat function to set up a list to notify board members for each new post so it gets on everyone’s radar. I’ve been doing this since I began a board role in January on the organization’s LinkedIn page and have grown their following by almost 35%, and the page’s engagement rate is up over 1000%. Further, the best way to achieve social media success is to focus on just one or two platforms (whichever ones make sense for your organization), before jumping on the latest and greatest and then getting frustrated when it doesn’t pick up enough momentum. For example, did your organization jump on Threads and then it fell away? That’s not uncommon. Many also jumped onto Clubhouse (remember them?).
Nonprofit boards with a marketing budget should also consider these two additional ways to leverage the organization’s branding:
Make sure each nonprofit board and committee member is set up with an email address from the organization. This has impacts on fundraising, community perception, donor awareness, and more. Further, each board member should have a standardized email signature block. The signature block should include the basics such as a link to the website, any social media platforms used, the organization’s mailing address and phone number, maybe a link to a calendar, or whatever else might be appropriate for your organization.
And lastly, provide board members printed business cards to carry with them. I’ve encountered many situations where this was helpful for a nonprofit such as when I was at a local block party and met someone who worked for a radio station. I gave him my business card and it resulted in me and another board member being invited to do a radio interview to help us promote an upcoming event. Then, once it aired, I asked for a link to share the interview which we used in our social media postings, website, newsletter, and blog. It also fostered a relationship with the media outlet who then began reaching out to me when he needed someone with my expertise.
With just a little planning and encouragement, all board members can easily take an active role in marketing and promoting the organization that will have a big impact on your public reputation and bottom line.
About the Author
Randye S Spina, MBA is a marketing and communications professional with extensive experience working with and serving on nonprofit boards. She is currently the Vice Chair of Communication for B Academics and is the founder of Marketing On a Mission LLC, a small business consultancy that specializes in working with mission-driven organizations to achieve their goals through great marketing. She is also the author of Affordable Marketing Solutions: Proven Techniques to Profitably Market Your Small Business, and an adjunct professor of communication. For fun, you’ll find her on the yoga mat, cooking up global cuisines in the kitchen, taking Spanish lessons, and playing with coloring books.
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