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Marketing Steps for Non-Profits in 2019 Part One blog header image
04 Dec

Marketing Steps for Non-Profits in 2019 Part 1: Strategy

Created by: 
Meghan Echols

Let’s keep this simple. In a nutshell, there are two ways you can enhance your marketing next year. Focus on (1) strategy and (2) content. That’s it. For the following blog, I’ll be discussing a high-level overview of planning for your marketing strategy discussion. In Part 2, I’ll discuss the content portion of the strategy. 

The challenge, however, is planning ahead, executing, continuing to analyze on a regular basis, and making impactful decisions to effect your brand in a positive way. You aren’t in the minority. Most of our clients verbalize they have a hard time with their marketing efforts in general. Why? Because it’s not the focus. In 2017, almost half of small to medium-sized businesses admitted focusing only two hours a week or less on their marketing efforts (source 1 main, source 2). I’ve spent about two hours alone on this blog with research, writing, and editing. Bottom line: it’s not enough. 


Does this word make you sweat? It shouldn’t. The strategy shouldn’t fall solely on your shoulders. Your organization is full of key stakeholders that should engage during the planning phase. 

For one of BigWheel’s website design and development clients, Family Matters Foundation, our team spoke with the owner, co-partner, technology manager, a couple of their important volunteers, and even a few of the families they served. Though you don’t want to invite 50 employees and 50 volunteers to be a part of the planning process, having a representative from each sect could positively impact your strategy for a certain project or for an overall plan. 

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is simplicity. As you know, you only have (1) so much time, (2) so much budget, and (3) so many resources. You need to be effective and efficient. If you do have a marketing agency you partner with, be sure to include them during the discussion, and keep them in mind when evaluating your organization’s capabilities. 

Before your marketing strategy meeting, keep these elements in mind. 

1. Gather important information on your organization. Information includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Previous marketing strategy if available 
    • Analysis of the past year’s digital efforts, for example: website, AdWords, social media and social advertisements, listings, other online advertisements, eblasts/newsletters, etc.
    • Analysis of the past year’s traditional efforts, for example: events, PR/media, print advertising, speaking engagements, etc.
  • Marketing budget and actual spend
  • Donations contributed   
  • Send organizational-wide, volunteer, and client surveys 
    • What they liked, what they didn’t like, what they wish they did, how the volunteers responded, how donors responded, what stood out, etc. 
  • Competitor analysis

2. Use the responses from the survey and your knowledge to create a SWAT analysis

  • Research trends in the marketplace.
    • Be prepared for talking through how your organization can utilize marketing trends (if it applies) 

3. Create the meeting agenda to ensure time and attendees stay on track. Share this before the meeting to all attendees. Plan on the marketing meeting to take all day, leave room for breaks and/or breakout sessions if needed. 

During your marketing meeting, keep these following elements in mind. 
1. Have someone record notes and/or record the meeting. This is important to be able to go back to details you may have missed during the discussions. 

Set goals and expectations for the new marketing year. There will be items to work on before some of your marketing tactics are put into play. For instance the design of collateral (ads, brochures, one-sheeters, social media images, etc.) will to be scheduled. A window of time should include brainstorming of creative, first draft of creative, feedback from the necessary team members, and possibly a few rounds of edits. Leave room for this work at the beginning of the year (and throughout the year) to help set timelines. It’s okay that these are rough goals, expectations, and timelines. You won’t know until you try something new to know what to expect. 

2. Ensure that all parties voice their knowledge, experience, and opinions. 

3. As tactics are brainstormed during the meeting, walk through potential timelines and ownership of these tactics.

4. Revisit the marketing budget during this meeting. This will help prioritize the tactics your team brainstormed. 

5. At the end of the meeting, create clear action items. And, plan your next meeting (which should be less than four months from the current meeting date). Don’t let the next time your key marketing stakeholders meet go a full year. 

After the meeting, keep these elements in mind. 

1. Be sure to send out meeting record/notes. Relay to your team that if anybody has any ideas or feedback to add, to let you know. 

2. Follow up on next step objectives and set in motion the tasks that need to be completed.

3. Continue to analyze, improve, and evolve your marketing. This is the toughest piece out of everything.