5 Things We Learned From Salesforce.org’s New Nonprofit Marketing Report
Believe it or not, a team of talented and creative marketers acts as the foundation for all nonprofits. Without one, nonprofits could crumble; with one, nonprofits could flourish. Those who work in nonprofit marketing touch every aspect of the organization, and these marketers wear multiple hats.
Marketers are responsible for understanding and identifying donors the organization should be reaching out to, creating a strategic plan to put that messaging in place and delivering that message across various audiences.
It’s crucial for nonprofits to understand the value marketing teams bring to their organization. Recently, Salesforce.org released its “The Fundamentals of Marketing & Engagement at Nonprofit Organizations,” which takes a deeper look at marketing and engagement tools, channels and strategies for nonprofits in the U.S. and U.K.
Here’s what we learned.
1. There Needs to Be a Better System in Place for Sharing Marketing Data
The job roles and responsibilities for a marketer in the nonprofit sector varies from organization to organization. With so many different departments within nonprofits, a marketer could be responsible for marketing and communications in one department—or across several departments.
In the U.S., 49% of marketers said they are solely responsible for marketing/communications within the organization, while 51% said that they are responsible for marketing/communications and other roles within the organization. In the U.K., there is a slight increase—with 59% responsible for only marketing/communications and 41% responsible for marketing/communications and other roles within the organization.
Like we’ve said previously, it’s common for marketers to support several departments in the organization. In the report, the top departments in the U.S. were major gifts (66%), fundraising/development (51%), advocacy/community (43%), information technology (38%) and operations (34%). It was similar for those who work in the U.K., with 62%, 41%, 42%, 32% and 42%, respectively.
It’s clear to see that marketers work across a number of departments, which is why it’s even more vital for marketers to be able to easily share data and information across teams. It ensures organizational effectiveness, efficiency, success and sustainability.
Only 48% of U.S. nonprofits said that it was “very easy” to share marketing data with other teams. It’s even lower in the U.K., with 38% who said it was “very easy” to share data.
“There are opportunities to connect systems, capture better data and work more efficiently between teams to achieve goals. This requires orchestration between departments and, in some cases, reorganization in order to streamline change. IT needs to be seen as strategic partners to marketing, and advancement folks should better understand how constituents think and feel,” Chris Thomas, VP of nonprofit executive engagement, at Salesforce.org, said in an exclusive interview with NonProfit PRO.
“The nexus between these groups seems to be more and more in marketing. Leaders need to craft the right digital strategy, select tools that provide a 360-degree via a sophisticated platform, ensure training and shared vision, and hone seamless teams that work in unison to defeat the silos and fear of technology that is often present in nonprofit organizations,” he continued.
2. Tight Budgets Hinder Nonprofit Marketers From Reaching Their Goals
As with any facet of the organization, establishing goals help marketers motivate themselves and reach milestones. The top goals for U.S. nonprofit marketers are to raise money/donations (75%), increase volunteer involvement (68%), and acquire and retain new donors (65%). In the U.K., top goals are to raise money/donations (61%), build brand awareness (60%) and increase volunteer involvement (49%).
Less than half of U.S. nonprofits exceeded their marketing goals this fiscal year (47%). It’s even less in the U.K. (37%). In a world where social good comes first, being able to exceed goals solidifies a nonprofit’s path to success. The more a nonprofit exceeds their goal, the more they exceed their mission.
So what’s holding 100% of nonprofits from exceeding their marketing goals? More than 85% of nonprofit marketers face challenges in reaching their marketing and engagement goals, but the highest ranking is marketers facing budgetary constraints.
So how can you, as nonprofit marketers, overcome the budget issue? Here are Thomas’ top tips for mitigating the budgetary constraints holding marketers back from reaching their marketing and engagement goals.
Identify leaders who get it, and give them the freedom to experiment. When I was a CIO in an enterprise nonprofit, we weren't in the position to fund a formal marketing department, so the advancement, communications and digital leaders created an ad-hoc team that elaborated projects and shared best-practices, resulting in experiences that focused on the end-user and improved our marketing practice for our constituents. Be creative!
Engage peers. Nonprofits are very often fellow travelers and love to share their experiences. Form a council, participate in one of Salesforce's councils, hold a webinar or build a group. There are a lot of smart people in the sector, and their shared work will make everyone more effective. Similarly, engage the power of your people via peer-to-peer and volunteering. Use volunteer management tools and get your maven advocates to engage their networks via social media and peer-to-peer tech. Give them access to your tools.
Evolve your tech thinking. Be smart about your investment—it may seem like a lot on the front-end, but quality and thoughtfully implemented platform technology will create much better ROI down the line than ad-hoc tool proliferation and one-off solutions. In the same vein, work to convince your leadership that technology is the strategy; that going forward, programs need to be technologically-driven if they are to succeed. This is a truth that has been adapted by for-profit businesses, and nonprofits need to make the same adjustments.
Take the time to figure out your data. You likely have a lot of it, and you can use it to tell million-dollar stories.
Empower your staff. Provide them with the tools they want, train them and give them the space to be creative and empowered.
3. Nonprofit Marketers Need More Robust Toolkits for Measuring Campaign Effectiveness
In order to understand whether a nonprofit marketing campaign was successful, it depends on if there is an effective system in place for measuring success metrics. Success metrics can be funds raised, website traffic, email stats, etc.
In this report, 64% of nonprofits relied on funds raised to measure the success of a marketing campaign. But funds raised is not a clear indicator of whether or not a marketing campaign was effective. Nonprofits need to understand how supporters are communicating with the organization—and whether or not they prefer the way they’re being communicated to.
In the U.S., 52% believe their ability to measure marketing campaigns is very effective. It’s lower in the U.K. at 41%. A hindrance to having more effective marketing technology to better measure marketing campaigns were the nonprofit’s executive team—52% of nonprofits in the U.S. agree that their executive team does not see the benefit in marketing technologies, compared to 60% in the U.K.
4. Nonprofits Are Not Capitalizing on Their Data
In today’s digital world, data is king. Data is an invaluable tool that nonprofits have at their disposal to better understand their donors, learn more about their passions and interests and find out how they prefer to be communicated to. Because of these things, it should be a standard for nonprofits to analyze and track their donor data on a routine basis.
Unfortunately, many nonprofits don’t take the time to get the most out of their data. In this report, researchers found that while 100% of U.S. nonprofits and 97% of U.K. nonprofits track some information about their supporters, there are areas that should be tracked more closely.
Surprisingly, the lowest tracked characteristics are preferred method of engaging with the organization (57% in the U.S./55% in the U.K.), current level of advocacy (40% in the U.S./42% in the U.K.) and type of device used to engage (37% in the U.S./45% in the U.K.).
What’s even more surprising is that the majority of nonprofits don’t make the most of the data to differentiate messaging to their supporters—83% heavily rely on batch email to communicate with their supporters and 70% do not differentiate messaging to supporters.
“Creating a sense of personal connection and a shared experience in the mission should be the primary responsibility of the marketer, and good storytelling is what will create that bond and a satisfying experience for the constituent,” Thomas explained. “This isn't easy, especially if it's a large organization with millions of supporters. But data is key, and CRM is the engine that drives the personal experience, a sense of communal purpose and clarity of the mission.”
5. Investing in More Advanced Marketing Tools Becomes a Priority Looking Forward
Marketers recognize that there’s a need for improvement in the future. And they also recognize that in order for nonprofits to grow and become more effective at achieving their missions, they need to flesh out their current marketing toolkits.
A total of 90% of U.S. nonprofits and 94% of U.K. nonprofits plan to invest in a new tool/channel during the next fiscal year. The top three tools to invest in are social media (50% in the U.S. and 43% in the U.K.), marketing database (46% in the U.S. and 42% in the U.K.) and paid social advertising (46% in the U.S. and 42% in the U.K.).
“Use social media management and case management tools, and create a position that can engage social queries, comments, etc. This is a good way to manage and evolve your messaging, personalize engagements and 'humanize' your organizational voice,” Thomas said.
We’ve seen a rise in the use of artificial intelligence in our space, which is echoed in this report. Forty percent of nonprofit marketers expect to focus on artificial intelligence in the next three to five years.
“People will give more, do more, stand up more if they feel their resources are making a difference. The marketer's responsibility is to craft that journey using storytelling, data and omnichannel touch points across the organization and for all constituents,” Thomas said.