Give Marketing a Chance

Marketing Sphere

When budgets are slashed, marketing is usually the first “overhead” area to be cut from a nonprofit’s budget. In good times, nonprofit marketing budgets may be only 2-3% of the overall budget for an organization while for-profit marketing budgets are usually about 10% of the full budget. An American Marketing Association report reviewed such nonprofit marketing realities in 2008.


Think about it. There are a number of reasons nonprofits choose not to spend money on marketing. How many of these scenarios ring with familiarity?:


  • There’s grant funding available for marketing planning but not further funds budgeted to carry out the plan or hire marketing staff.

  • An intense organization works on carrying out its mission but has a low public profile.

  • The board expects a marketing staffer to earn his/her own salary when, indeed, their efforts are about selling tickets or drawing donations to support programming.

  • Social media pages are set up and then neglected as the staff can’t support tweeting, blogging and posting on a regular basis.

  • Staff lacks time and board members lack focus to recognize the correlation between marketing-which includes old-fashioned publicity to fuel word-of-mouth-and donations, as well as other forms of support.

  • An organization relies on temporary interns to carry out marketing and PR tasks.

  • Even as budgets for marketing are cut, the expectation for donations and income remain constant or are increased.



What to do? Apply your board and volunteer resources creatively and fight the good fight to maintain the funding needed to promote your organization effectively. Avoiding drastic cuts to the marketing budget is the best path.