7 Ways to Empower Nonprofit Marketing Staff

Nonprofit marketing isn’t a seasonal job, especially in a virtual world that never sleeps. At the same time, you can’t go-go-go all year round without the culture and care in place to keep nonprofit marketing staff feeling supported and ready for action. Sooner or later, when you’re stretched too thin, you stop being able to get the important things done well.

Do you want well-cared-for and productive marketers that help reach organizational goals? Or are you a communications staffer who wants to improve your work environment? Learn seven ways to empower and care for nonprofit marketers that go beyond good salaries and benefits.

1. Carve Out Time and Space for Learning

Webinars, books, podcasts, how-to blog posts, email newsletters, virtual conferences. There are a LOT of ways to develop and keep on top of marketing skills, trends and best practices. And while learning new things can be motivating for one staff person, setting aside time for your team to share and teach what they’ve learned can have an even bigger impact on your marketing strategy and beyond. 

Look for ways to make learning and knowledge sharing part of your standard process, even if that simply means the occasional mini-training session during a regular meeting.

2. Allow Flexibility for Different Working Styles

I’m the type of marketer who likes a quiet, focused space when I sit down to write. But I know others who work perfectly fine in a busier environment as long as they have headphones to wear, or the ability to take a call while out for a walk. Also consider that different working styles mean that marketing staff might gather information, plan, and collaborate on projects differently. 

The more flexibility you have in how and where work gets done can be a factor in its quality and timeliness (and your overall work satisfaction).

3. Provide Tools That Build Internal Capacity

It’s possible to be 100% productive with your day and still not reach your nonprofit’s marketing goals. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours or people to execute your plans. But don’t overlook time-intensive tasks that you’re doing manually on an ongoing basis. Like downloading information collected on your website and uploading it to your email marketing platform or donor database. Or logging in to individually publish every post on your social media channels.

Seek out opportunities to free up staff time by streamlining your marketing operations, whether that means creating a capacity-building website or bringing on a social media scheduling tool.

4. Don’t Saddle Them With All the Tech Tasks

Just because your nonprofit marketing staff understands Facebook or Google Drive doesn’t mean they should be in charge of IT. Or dealing with your internet provider. Or setting up an office network or printer. Sure, some folks might be happy to chip in and help, but consider whether using an outside expert or contractor would be better (and more reliable) for everyone in the long run.

That’s not to say that marketers should be free of all responsibility for your nonprofit’s technology stack. Make sure to thoroughly document marketing tools and processes in case of employee turnover or extended leave. You’d be surprised how often people get “locked out” of their online tools.

5. Prioritize Work That Moves the Needle

Once you’ve established clear marketing goals, don’t fall into the trap of maintaining the status quo and expecting different outcomes. Your marketing plan should be a strategic and selective collection of tactics that directly tie into what you want to achieve.

Rather than spreading everyone thin by trying to do a little of everything, continually check in with each other to prioritize the things that will be the most impactful on your goals. That could mean putting one of your social media channels on the back burner for a little while or doubling up on your efforts to collect stories from your community.

6. Make It Safe to Experiment

It seems like the rules of marketing are always changing, and it’s hard to know if changing up your work will have better results. Being open to testing a few new things can build trust among nonprofit marketing staff and take the pressure off of getting everything perfect the first time.

Start with small experiments like A/B testing your email subject lines or a plain text email design. Try out a website pop-up and see how your audience responds. Just keep in mind that a marketing culture of experimentation also means having one of measurement and timely feedback.

7. Still Provide Structured Processes

At the end of the day, your effective and productive marketing team still needs structure at the heart of all this flexibility, creativity and testing. Your standard marketing tasks, from sending newsletters and writing website content to conducting analytics reviews, should flow according to structured processes that set the right expectations for things like timelines and internal review and sign off. 

No one wants to guess how something should go. Even if you’re a lone marketing wolf at your organization, develop and outline your processes as roadmaps to success. You should be able to skip over internal bottlenecks as a result—and hopefully delegate more of the work among employees or interns.

How Do You Grow & Care For Nonprofit Marketing Staff?

As your nonprofit goes about building a marketing and communications team (or any team), consider the ways that you can empower staff to grow and thrive beyond basic compensation. Resilient nonprofit marketers are motivated and effective colleagues who can push your mission forward for the long haul.

Does your organization offer productivity-boosting perks or find ways to make employees feel valued? What kinds of things would help you feel empowered in a marketing or communications role? Weigh in with a comment below.