An important function of any nonprofit organization is communication. How you communicate with your donors and members can define your effectiveness as an organization. An equally important facet of your communication is marketing. Reaching new members and encouraging donors to give to your organization or cause requires marketing. Establishing a marketing plan is a complex process, which must be done methodically to support the mission of your organization.

There are several elements in the marketing process: research, branding, segmenting and communications planning, among others. It is important to look at marketing as a never-ending cycle of gauging audience perception and adapting messages to propel your organization forward in an ever-changing non-profit environment. Below is an example of a process for forming a marketing strategy.

Forming a Marketing Strategy:
Phase I: Analysis/Research

  • Internal (Staff, Board, etc.)
  • External (Publics, Competition, Environments)

Phase II: Strategy Development

  • Define marketing mission, objectives and goals
  • Create a calendar of marketable activities
  • Set core marketing strategy

Phase III: Marketing Plan Development

  • Standardize communication policies
  • Set specific tactics
  • Determine benchmarks and measurements

Phase IV: Strategy Implementation

  • Implement marketing plan and assess performance

The National Council of Nonprofits provides a valuable communications and marketing resource to nonprofits. Click here to be linked to these resources and templates from other nonprofits in the nation.