How to Select the Right Marketing Partner for Your Nonprofit

Perhaps you want to increase your volunteer base by 50% within one year.

Or raise $50,000 during your holiday fundraiser.

From paid search advertising to Facebook ads, there’s a wide range of effective tools and proven strategies to help nonprofits achieve their overarching goals. That said, nonprofit professionals’ time is best spent working to achieve their mission. Delegating the tasks of marketing to an experienced and professional strategic partner is, to put it simply, the right move for an organization.

If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the marketing world and associated strategies, finding the right nonprofit marketing agency can feel a bit daunting.

That’s why, in this post, we’re outlining the essential characteristics to look for in a  marketing partner. This way, you can reap the benefits of nonprofit advertising without the risk of feeling as if you wasted your precious budget.

When vetting and searching for the right marketing partner for your nonprofit, make it a priority to select a partner that meets the following criteria.

Has a Good Track Record

With the growth of the internet and the digital realm, the sheer number of digital marketing agencies has skyrocketed in recent years. When vetting your options, make sure you do your research to get a sense of their reputations and track records.

Additionally, look for a partner that has at least some experience working with nonprofit organizations and has an understanding and appreciation of nonprofit culture. For example, they intentionally market the fact that they take on nonprofit clients and are visible in the nonprofit space, which is always a good sign. Growing a base of donors and volunteers and raising awareness for a cause will require slightly different strategies from what would be used to achieve a for-profit entity’s goals.

Communicates Efficiently & Transparently

The best results are achieved when a nonprofit and its marketing partner are in communication throughout the entire process. From building a strategy to sharing updates on results and campaign changes, it’s best that the marketing partner is as direct and transparent with the nonprofit client as possible.

Unfortunately, many marketing partners don’t communicate and don’t bother keeping the nonprofit client in the know. Simultaneously, they may assume they know best and not listen to a nonprofit’s needs as a whole.

Leaving your organization in the dark and neglecting you will likely lead to poor, uninformed decision-making and, ultimately, undesirable results.

Overall, you want to work with a company that…

  • Makes you feel confident that your budget is being spent wisely.
  • Provides you with a full understanding of results and how campaigns can be optimized for improvement.
  • Helps you become more knowledgeable about new marketing channels and strategies.

Educates Your Nonprofit in the Process

Oftentimes, big digital agencies will come in and sell a nonprofit on a strategy that the nonprofit may not quite understand, and they won’t bother taking the time to educate the nonprofit to develop an understanding. Ultimately, this increases dependency on the marketing partner and can lead to an unhealthy balance of power in the relationship. An agency may sell you on a strategy that costs more but isn’t entirely necessary to achieve your goals.

For better results over time, you’ll want to find a partner that doesn’t simply dictate or sell everything to you. Instead, find a partner that educates your organization in the best direction and strategy. This way, you will be in the know at all times and can learn about new trends and marketing practices, and make better-informed decisions about how and where to spend your budget that will achieve your desired results.

Whether you are working with internal teams or outside agencies, the more you know and understand about what is or will be happening within your marketing campaigns, and why, the better equipped you are to present new ideas and budgets for scale. Not to mention you’ll be more prepared to negotiate for additional programs and understand continued testing.  

Whether sharing tips for how to apply for and maintain a Google Ad Grant, or keeping you informed on best practices for social marketing, learning from your nonprofit marketing partner is key.

Possesses the Right Kind of Expertise

In today’s market, you can’t simply choose traditional or digital marketing strategies–you need to include both to be effective.

According to The Next Generation of American Giving, a 2018 report published by Blackbaud, “Generation X individuals gave an average of $1212 per year compared to $732 from Baby Boomers. The next generation of givers, the Millennials, averaged $481 per year. Despite giving less last year, the Millennial mindset and future financial prospects make this generation well-positioned to become tomorrow’s philanthropists.”

Millennials are leading the way for online and mobile adoption and prefer to donate online compared to writing checks to nonprofits. Therefore, digital marketing is a must.

As the Nonprofit Times reported, online giving has grown by more than 500% since Giving Tuesday launched in 2012. Ignoring the newest cutting-edge digital strategies only holds your organization back from growth.

That said, traditional marketing still plays a role. Older generations are accustomed to consuming print and broadcast media and donating via direct mail fundraising campaigns. Find a marketing partner that has experience on both sides and can serve as a one-stop shop for all of your marketing needs.

Choosing the right digital partner is crucial to sustaining and growing to make positive social and environmental change. With deep traditional marketing roots and cutting-edge knowledge and experience with digital strategies, d3 specialists has a range of services to help your nonprofit grow.

Contact one of our d3 specialists today to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving your goals!