5 Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring a Nonprofit Marketing Agency
The blazing summer heat is fading in the rearview mirror. Vacations have ended and kids are back in school. As we inch closer to the holiday season, nonprofits are inching closer to their peak season for donors.

To make the most of the busy charitable giving season, many organizations will drum up their creative marketing to attract donors. For some of these charities, however, they lack the resources to handle marketing tasks and need outside help. Before your organization hires a nonprofit marketing agency, ask yourself these five questions.

What are our short-term and long-term goals?

For nonprofits, the job of seeking donations is a year-round project. But the peaks and valleys still exist. Some estimates show roughly 30% of donations are given in the month of December alone. Organizations need to “strike while the iron’s hot” of course and determine what their goals are for the peak season. Doing so clarifies when and for how long a marketing agency’s services will be needed.

Understanding what your long-term goals are is also helpful. Successful marketing agencies can develop strategies to garner more donations during slow times of the year. Don’t limit your goals to financial donations alone. You could be seeking more volunteers for a project. You might simply want to strategize branding to increase overall awareness. 

Determine how you will measure your goals. ROI on marketing isn’t always immediate, so consider what your expectations are in the next three months and beyond. Of course, the ultimate goal is bringing in donations. But what are your goals around social media engagement? How about email campaigns? What about subscriptions to your quarterly newsletter? Whatever the case, clarifying your goals ahead of time will help you better understand what you want from a marketing agency.

What are our biggest needs?

Some nonprofits have a better understanding than others about their needs in terms of marketing. How are you doing with finding new donors? Are you getting a good return on your digital marketing efforts? How’s your branding going? Doing an honest assessment of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses can help focus priorities for your team and the nonprofit marketing agency you bring in.

Do you need help with social media? Do you need help with developing SEO-focused content? Does your website need a refresh? Audit your marketing efforts to know what’s working and what’s not. Do a SWOT analysis for your organization. Detail your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By determining your needs now, you’ll know what questions to ask agencies you’re considering working with. 

How are we different?

It’s a common consideration in the world of for-profit organizations. Knowing what makes their business different helps them better market to customers. For nonprofits where there’s not typically a perceived competitor, determining differentiators can be tricky.

Are there partnerships that help your organization stand out? Are there corporate donors or influencers that work with your organization that would appeal to potential donors? Are there unique values your nonprofit brings that others don’t? Thinking these things through can help an outside agency develop messaging that points to why your organization is special.

Even if your organization has no real differences from similar ones, working with an agency can help you develop positioning and messaging that gives you a unique voice in reaching potential donors.

Who is our audience?

Are you looking to bring in individual donors or develop corporate sponsorships? A nonprofit marketing agency can help build messaging for whomever your intended audience might be. 

Once you’ve determined the first level of your target audience, you can begin segmenting your list into different personas and collecting data such as giving history, behavior, income, age, gender, and more. An agency can work to craft campaigns targeting people from those lists such as retirees or Gen Z donors, a group who’s giving increased by 40% last year

An agency experienced in working with nonprofits will be able to help you in developing partnerships crucial to your work. Corporate partnerships can obviously go a long way in raising funds for your organization. Another potential strategy might be using an influencer. These individuals have large social followings and can be impactful on getting your word out to specific groups. Knowing the audience you want to target helps the agency you work with craft pinpoint messaging that’s relevant to current and potential donors.

What’s our budget?

It’s not the most fun question to consider, but knowing what your organization can spend on marketing makes a huge difference on what services you ask an outside agency to take on. On average, it can cost an organization thousands of dollars per month to use an agency’s services. 

That’s why it’s crucial to know what your needs are. This allows you to prioritize your budget. You might have several things you’d like to get done, but have the budget for just one or two. A good rule of thumb is to set aside between 5-15% of your budget for marketing. That number doesn’t just include agency costs but other expenditures such as software needs. The Better Business Bureau suggests spending no more than 35% of your overall budget on fundraising, so optimize your budget for the priorities you want to take on most.

The peak giving season is right around the corner. It’s imperative to not let the season come and go without a plan in place to maximize your fundraising efforts. These five questions can guide you as you consider hiring a nonprofit marketing agency and strive to bring in donations that make an impact for the greater good.