Creating a Marketing Team at Your Nonprofit- No Matter Where You Are!

Whether you are just starting out with turning your staff and board into a marketing team or if you are ready for more advanced tips, we have you covered.


Define What Marketing Is

Marketing is not just updating the website, writing a blog post and sending newsletters. Marketing isn’t just communicating either, it’s also about listening to what your supporters want and delivering that to them. It’s a process. There is a strategy involved. Let them know that you aren’t just communicating about your programs, but shaping the way they are delivered and making sure those messages have the greatest impact possible.

Connect the Dots for Your Team

Staff and board members need to understand why they are marketers too. While you can’t turn them into marketing experts overnight, you can give them an easy to follow breakdown of your marketing strategy. Keep it simple by having them just think about:

  • Who are we trying to reach (or who is the audience)?
  • What do you want them to do (or what's the call to action)?
  • What's the message to get them to do that?
  • How do you deliver that message?

Use What They Already Know

Most staff and board members are proud of what they do and love your cause - which makes for great marketing. But people get anxious when they think you want them to memorize something, like a mission statement. Instead, focus on why they love your organization - they already know that by heart! Ask them to tell stories about how your organization has changed a life or your community.

Train Your Team

Work with your team so they are comfortable answering some basic, conversational questions about your nonprofit. There are four basic questions that everyone who works for your nonprofit and serves on your board should be able to answer easily and competently no matter where they are or whom they are talking to.

  • What do you do? (Gets to the pitch)
  • What makes your organization special? (Gets to how you are different from others working in the field)
  • Whom do you help? (Gets to clearly defined groups of participants/supporters/influencers)
  • How do you do that? (Outline the benefits to your participants/supporters/influencers.)

Give Them Three Things to Do

Staff and board members already have a lot on their plates. Don’t overwhelm them asking for help with your marketing. Ask your staff or board to do just three things in a three-month period that will contribute to your communications plan. But be very specific. Don’t tell them you “need help” with the newsletter - ask them if they can find a volunteer to profile, for example, or take pictures at an event.

Create a Marketing Bank

While being able to discuss your work is important, there also needs to be a cohesiveness to the other communication pieces your deliver. A Marketing Bank is a single location where you store files and descriptions you and your staff use often in newsletters, blog posts or brochures. Logos, program descriptions, your mission statement, and style guides are just a few examples of what should be included so everyone is on the same page. Store your bank on a shared drive or folder where others can access it remotely.

Show Them How to Use the Tools You Use

Part of your staff’s unwillingness to contribute might come from not knowing how to use the technology you do. Create videos or have training sessions where you can show your staff or board how to use communications tools like Hootsuite or your database. Create email templates they can clone.

Address Sticky Situations and Mistakes

Your need to address the “what ifs” with your team ahead of time so they will feel even more prepared. Try to think of potential scenarios where something could go wrong. What if someone criticizes the organization, or a spokesperson makes a factual error?  You also need to gently correct any mistakes they might make while offering ideas on how to do better next time.

Have a Board Retreat

Get your board together so you can get them thinking about their message. Make it highly interactive. Have them do solo exercises, pair off, and whole group brainstorming and discussion. Like you did with your staff, ask your board why they love your organization. Ask them to share stories as well.


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