7 tips for creating your marketing plan

7 Tips for Creating Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan

If you’re like most nonprofits, you’re probably wondering how you can rise above the noise of all the other organizations out there trying to rally support for their cause. The places that get noticed in this cluttered nonprofit world (there are over 1.5 million in the US alone) generally have one thing in common: a very good marketing plan. The Charity: Waters and UNICEFs of the world don’t just whip up campaigns. They are thoughtfully designed and beautifully executed all thanks to a great nonprofit marketing plan.

We’re here to help you get a grasp on creating a nonprofit marketing plan so that in a few years, you’ll probably be the inspiration for more nonprofits to dig in on their marketing plans. Here we go:

1) Do Your Research

  • Who are other organizations in the space? Why are they successful (or not so successful)? What do they do that you want to emulate? What do you do that they hate? Think about it from all angles: as a competitor, as a community member, as a donor, etc. Who is established? Who is the newcomer?
  • Who are your donors/supporters/volunteers/etc? What do they get from you that they can’t get anywhere else? Do they like you? Do they open emails from you? Do they follow and engage with you on social media? What do they want from you? Consider polling them about issues like this.

2) Get Internal Input

  • Sit down with your leadership and have frank conversations about how they want to be positioned in relation to the rest of the industry, who the audience really is, what their goals are, etc.
  • Take a poll of all your stakeholders (leadership, staff, donors, volunteers, etc) and ask them what they want more of/less of from your organization.
  • These first two steps are critical in figuring out what it is that makes you different from the competition. This is what the core of your marketing plan will be.

3) Make Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan

  • Sit down and take all of your findings and craft a plan. Here’s a template to pull from. But we recommend that you make this as unique and your own as possible. If a part of that template isn’t relevant for you, then take it out (after careful contemplation of why it’s not relevant, of course).
  • Set realistic yet ambitious goals based on a timeline that allows for some flexibility (as things will not always go as smoothly as you’d like).
  • Assign responsibility. Because marketing is truly an organization-wide responsibility, make sure to get as many departments as possible involved.
  • Look at all the different tactics you can use: taking into careful consideration both online and offline methods to achieve your goals. Social media, billboards, email, direct mail, radio spots, banner ads, skywriting, etc. The sky is the limit (as long as it’s within the limit of your budget obviously). But really think outside the box. How are you going to get people’s attention?

4) Sell the Plan

  • Sit down with your leadership again. Present your plan to them. And back it up with data from your polling as well as from best practices that you’ve come across in all of your other industry research (which you’ve of course been doing maniacally during this process). Lay out resources that you’ll need: staff time, advertising budget, etc.
  • After you agree to a final plan and present it to staff, now reality sets in…

5) Execute the Plan

  • Now comes the easy part. Just kidding. No, you definitely did the heaviest lifting in the research and creation phase, but it’s all for naught if you can’t execute. You’ll likely need to be the plan’s loudest and most effective advocate, and because you got leadership’s buy-in from the get-go, you’ll have support when you’re making sure the plan is happening. Remember: the plan will not execute itself.

6) Track and Report

  • Because you were smart and built in tracking mechanisms and daily, weekly and monthly reports to decision makers in your nonprofit marketing plan, this part is all about execution as well. And before you write off this step, just remember that it’s a critical part of the next step, which arguably may be the most important step of all…

7) Refine the Plan

  • One of the hardest parts of operating in the nonprofit space is adapting to the ever-evolving nature of how to best do things. Trends come and go. People get weary of certain tactics. New tech platforms arise. That’s why one of the most critical pieces of your plan is this step because you need to always be one step ahead of your competition. And that means voraciously reading the latest reports, articles, blogs, etc about nonprofit marketing.

Even though “marketing” often has a negative connotation, it’s actually the most important thing your organization can do to grow and better serve your community – so this nonprofit marketing plan is truly one of the most essential tools in your nonprofit’s arsenal. This plan cannot be undervalued, and it’s up to you to make it happen – and make it successful once it’s live in the wild.

If tracking and reporting and sharing and everything else is a little scary because of the perceived price involved, don’t fret. Here’s a handy link to a bunch of free and discounted resources for nonprofits.

16 Amazing Fundraisers of 2015

2015 was a big year for CrowdRise specifically, crowdfunding generally and Donald Trump politically. And so why don’t we run down the 16 most popular fundraisers on CrowdRise – as chosen by you, the people. Let’s go!

A new life for a Syrian family torn apart by war​

Humans of New York and Edward Norton teamed up to raise over $460,000 on CrowdRise in just a few days for a Syrian refugee and his family as they relocate to Detroit. Such a powerful and amazing online fundraiser.

Crazy virtual reality captures the impact on #GivingTuesday

On #GivingTuesday, over 1,200 charities rallied to raise more than $5.8 million and make the CrowdRise Giving Tower the tallest building in the world. The CrowdRise Giving Tower was the best way for charities to raise money on #GivingTuesday and we’re bringing it all back for 2016.

TCS NYC Marathon rallies to raise over $19 million for good

Thousands of TCS New York City Marathon runners launched their own fundraising pages and rallied to raise over $19 million for hundreds of amazing causes. Just one awesome example of so, so many of endurance fundraisers on CrowdRise.

Funding new legs for elephants injured by landmines

The Asian Elephant hospital in Thailand needs help to build a factory that willprovide prosthetic legs to elephants and give them a chance to walk again. This is one of those unique online fundraisers that you just can’t get out of your head.

Eddie Vedder CrowdRises to cure debilitating skin disease

EB is a devastating genetic skin disorder that causes skin to tear apart and blister from the slightest touch. Eddie co-founded a research group to help find a cure and it has raised nearly $100,000. This is a great example of celebrities using their influence for good.

Following in Forrest Gump’s footsteps to fight poverty

Barclay ran across the USA, Forrest Gump-style, and raised over $11,000 for the Hall Steps Foundation, founded to fight poverty around the world by improving health. This is a great example of leveraging the power of crowdfunding to make a real difference.

Forever changing the lives of 3 kids in Honduras in 24 hours

Nicole went to Honduras and met Laura. In just 24 hours she raised enough money to help Laura, as well as two other teens, get surgery to change their lives forever. Now that is an amazing use of online fundraisers.

Justice for Cecil the Lion means fighting to end future poaching

Cecil, a beloved 13-year-old lion, was killed for sport in July. The world responded by raising over $70,000 to help protect other animals and end poaching for good. These sorts of mass mobilizations are what we had in mind when we started CrowdRise.

Allstate Purple Purse Challenge raises $3.1 million

Domestic violence charities rallied their communities in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge and raised nearly $3.1 million collectively for the cause. And yeah, that’s Olivia Pope AKA Kerry Washington. She’s a big fan of crowdfunding.

Helping Army vet Chris Mintz, who tried to protect fellow students during Oregon shooting

Chris Mintz, an Army veteran, was shot while trying to warn students at a Southern Oregon college under attack by a gunman. Donations help with his recovery medical costs. This guy is a hero, and we were beyond proud to help raise over $30,000 for him.

The 2015 Boston Marathon raises over $1 million for every mile in the race

The John Hancock Boston Marathon community raised over $26 million for charityin 2015. That‘s more than a million dollars for every mile on the historic course. Such an amazing example of online fundraising in action.

Helping a displaced family in Haiti get their own home, all in 24 hours

Mallory went to Haiti and found a family, displaced by the earthquake, living in need. In 24 hours she was able to raise enough money to get them into their own home. Online fundraisers – it’s built for speed.

Melody used her bat mitzvah to CrowdRise and help orphaned elephants in Kenya

Melody and her family traveled to Nairobi to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphan Project. She was so moved, she asked friends and family to support their efforts in lieu of any bat mitzvah gifts. And she raised nearly $22,000! Mazel tov!

Revlon ‘Love is On’ raises $4.1 million for women’s health

Revlon used a $1 million dollar grand prize to help women’s health organizations spread the love and raise over $4.1 million for their causes. This was a great example of corporate philanthropy leveraging the latest technologies.

100% pro bono lawyer project helps those who can‘t afford legal help

Melanie quit her job as a lawyer and set out on a cross country tour giving pro bono legal help to those in need. Currently she’s working with migrant farmworkers who aren’t receiving full due process rights in rural California – and raised over $16,500 in the process. And they said lawyers are bad?

Saving the Gray girls from a rare brain disease

The Grays were devastated when they found out both Charlotte and Gwenyth have a neurodegenerative brain disease called Batten CNL6. They are fundraising on CrowdRise to fund the urgent medical research needed to save the lives of the Gray girls – So far their online fundraiser has raised over $108,000. These are the sorts of online fundraisers that CrowdRise was built for.


Not a bad 2015, amirite? Well here’s to a bigger, better and more helpful 2016.

#SocialGood: Empowering the Homeless

When your business is doing well, adding in a little “good” can seem as easy as throwing some cash at the latest cause célèbre and chalking one up for social justice. But hands-on help—the kind that puts food in mouths, shoes on feet, and people on the payroll—takes a different kind of entrepreneur. And when you make helping others not just a goal, but the core of your business? Congratulations, you’re now the CEO of Awesome Altruism, Inc.

By helping others up instead of simply handing something out, three companies in particular—Mitscoots Socks, The Giving Keys, and The Empowerment Plan—provide exceptional examples you can use to provide fundraising for the homeless, create a successful business, and give something back to your community.

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