Time Flies Photo by JanetR3 on FlickrA question I hear a lot from my readers is “How much time do I need to devote to marketing when it’s just me?” Many nonprofit communicators are simply over-tasked and wearing too many different hats.

What I usually tell people who are freaking out because they have too much to do is to first take a deep breath. Then find a quiet place away from your to-do list and try to see the big picture. Think about ALL of the resources that you spend on marketing now, not just time. That includes what we call the Three T’s, or the time, talent, and treasure. They are all related and interdependent.


You have your time, but you also have the time of other program staff. They should be helping you with marketing even if you don’t actually call it “marketing.”  Getting them to talk about their programs on Facebook is marketing. Making sure they have a good answer when someone asks them what they do or where they work at a cocktail party is marketing. Figure out not just the big chunks of time, but the little ways too, that everyone on your staff can pitch in.


Look at the skills that you have available not only on your staff, but also on your board and among your volunteers. How can you tap into your social capital and figure out how to get other people to do some of marketing work for you, or to make tasks easier by opening certain doors? Simply being conversational, asking questions, and listening is a great way to uncover hidden talents among your supporters.


Now think about how much money you have available for marketing. Include everything you can think of that’s related to sharing information with people.  Maybe some of that money could be better spent on hiring a consultant to help with a particular project, or to pay an intern. While I know of very few grants that you can write specifically for communications, always include line items for marketing in your programmatic grant proposals, even if you call it “capacity building” or “public education” or “outreach” which are often terms that funders are more comfortable with.

Now, with a bigger perspective on the resources available to you, come back to the time question. What adjustments can you make in the talent and treasure categories that would help free up more time?

Balancing the three T’s is an important part of your marketing plan. If you want help creating a real marketing plan for yourself — one that you can implement with the resources you have available — I invite you to join Nancy Schwartz and me next Wednesday, October 12, in New York  City for the Total Focus Nonprofit Marketing Workshop. We still have a few seats left!

Published On: October 4, 2011|Categories: Communications Plans and Marketing Strategies|