Angela Crist

Not getting buy-in from your boss is one of the biggest complaints we hear from nonprofit communicators. Today, former executive director, Angela Crist will give you some tips on how to get them to come around. ~Kristina

Guest Post by Angela Crist

As a nonprofit communications professional, you’ve got so many ideas. You love the mission you serve and your workload can’t handle the opportunities you see to spread your organization’s message far and wide.

Your ED, the one person who could help put more resources toward your communications and marketing ideas, seems to have a hard time getting behind your ideas. It’s a shame, but it happens, and probably for more reasons than you might realize.

As a recovering nonprofit ED with a passion for all things marketing and communications, I’ve put together 5 things to get your Nonprofit ED Excited About Marketing. If you’ve had success with this at your organization, I’d love to hear your approaches, too!

1. Go to the strategic plan.

This is your ED’s highest order of goals. If you have an annual organization plan of work, even better. Look at your idea and align it with those organization and strategic goals. This demonstrates your understanding of the organization’s priorities and shows you aren’t just trying to go rouge with a crazy idea that sounds fun.

2. Know what your ED is measuring and why.

This works closely with knowing their goals, but goes a step further. If the current priority is to measure program participants, make the connection between your idea and driving more participants. If measure is number of retweets, build in a measurable Twitter component. More than likely at least one of the ED’s measurements is related to donors or dollars. That’s a really important one, so put a pin in that one until #5, below.

3. Think globally.

Are there other functional costs in your idea that you may not be considering? If you don’t know, ask. Don’t assume. Might your idea add a process for your bookkeeper? The custodian? Does it use supplies that were budgeting for something else? A team player understands that there are competing needs within an organization and once you acknowledge them, you can propose ways around those costs. At the very least, acknowledging them will win you points.

4. Come with a plan that includes real costs.

We’re talking direct and indirect costs here. It’s vital that you cost out the time it would take for you and any other team members to implement your idea. If what you’re proposing adds more than 30 minutes to anyone’s work, cost it out. Even if you’re using all volunteers, it takes time to recruit them. Even if you have a fantastic pro bono graphic designer, it’s still going to take someone’s time to implement the marketing plan. Don’t sweat it if you can’t come up with every single cost. Make a good effort. It shows you recognize the scale of what you’re proposing.

5. Work with your development person.

There is usually a ton of overlap between communications and development and if you can build your idea together, it will probably have more traction with the ED. Your ED loves the organization’s mission as much as you, but remember that the weight of the budget is on her/his shoulders. Swim with the revenue-generating current, not against it. If the development person IS the ED, never fear. This is still a good approach. Perhaps engage another ally in the organization to help build support for your idea.

Ultimately you know your ED and you know what motivates him/her. You know the goals of your organization. Stay true to the strategies and goals that your organization has already embraced. Stay persistent with ideas you know will bring success to those strategies and goals and don’t take it personally when you get a “not right now.” That just gives you time to make your idea even better.

Angela Crist is a nonprofit content marketing specialist with a special affinity for digital media. She is a recovering nonprofit CEO and a general marketing geek. You can visit her website at

Published On: February 27, 2018|Categories: Communications Team Management, Relationships, and Boundaries|