7433803_mIt’s been estimated that in today’s world, on any given day individuals are exposed to 5,000 advertisements per day. It might not seem so, but think about it. Think of all of the commercials on television, radio and print, sponsored ads on social media and even the promotions you see on your way to work.

So, how do nonprofits or social enterprise organizations break through all of this noise? And, if you manage to get above it all, how do you make sure you stay relevant?

There are three important points on which you should focus attention.

Marketing Plan and Calendar

You always have to have a plan. That’s the bottom line. At the beginning of each year, make sure your nonprofit or social enterprise has a solid marketing and communications plan. By thoughtfully putting pen to paper on your goals and objectives, you are able to sketch out your horizon. You always want to make certain that these goals are accompanied by measurable metrics so that you are able to evaluate benchmarks for success. In addition, you need to develop a comprehensive calendar that helps inform your team as to when you will be executing promotional campaigns and certain messages. During the course of the year, return to your plan and calendar repeatedly and often. This will help you to assess how you’re doing and provide opportunities to evaluate if you should make some adjustments depending on successes or failures.

Stay Informed

Marketing professionals within your organization are tasked with developing plans and content that promotes your nonprofit in a variety of ways. However, the best way to do this is to stay informed and receive data. A nonprofit or social enterprise should always seek different ways to gather information from donors, advocates and even the general public. It’s critically important to do this and if you don’t, it’s at your own peril. By staying informed, you are able to plan accordingly. If you know that your donors, for example, are responding to a particular campaign, it provides you with critical knowledge on what resonates. Always A/B test different types of efforts and continually be looking for innovative and creative ways to gather information from your constituents. And, don’t forget to look at concrete quantitative data that you can obtain from your technology tools. These days, sources such as Google Analytics are robust. Make sure to use the low cost or no cost resources that are available to your organization.

CEO and the Media

Through my years of experience in the philanthropic sector, I have had plenty of opportunities to review many position descriptions. Most of the time, I see job requirements for key executives such as the executive director or chief marketing officer that include engaging with media. However, I don’t see this implemented as often as it should be. This is important, although it’s always critical to be strategic and have some media training before talking to the press. That being said, a great opportunity exists by making certain that your chief executive, at the very least, is out there speaking to various media outlets, which are aligned and interested in your work. He or she should be doing this as often as possible. If your nonprofit does not have experience in promoting itself in this manner, it makes sense to hire outside experts to find opportunities and training on how to engage with various forms of media, such as print or television. It’s essential to remember that a nonprofit or social enterprise’s CEO is the most visible “face” of the organization. By making sure he or she is a high profile member of the community, you inevitably promote your organization as well.

Despite all of the noise in today’s world, organizations can indeed break through and stay relevant. The keys to success lie in having a thoughtful plan of action, providing information, but also gathering it and making certain there’s a human voice out there promoting your work.


Author of “The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready”.


© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.