What would you say is the purpose of your nonprofit organization’s marketing communications efforts? Is it to support fundraising, to provide advice as an internal consultant, or to create strategic initiatives at the leadership level?

According to Dr. Ajay Sirsi in this blog post about assessing and improving the role of nonprofit marcom, asking this question is one way to clarify the role marcom plays and help elevate it for a number of wins across the board. And this is what we’ll discuss at the June 2016 #NPMC Twitter chat for nonprofit communicators.

Levelling the hierarchy

Nonprofit organizations with a structural hierarchy often put their marcom departments in a position to serve, report to, or support fundraising efforts as a function of them. As Marlene Oliveira observes in this Imagine Canada blog post about the difference between marketing and fundraising “Though the importance and role of marketing communications should be obvious, it’s clearly often forgotten. Or worse, it’s known and ignored, or simply not prioritized.”

This approach limits marcom in the sector by creating a parent-child dynamic between fundraising and marketing/communications—and that’s a problem.

In order to balance this scale, we don’t need to lower the importance of fundraising. Instead, we should elevate the role of marcom. Here are a few ways to start that conversation.

  • Ask your leadership team to list their short and long-term goals.
  • Assess your current marcom role using Sirsi’s three levels.
  • Collaborate with your fundraising department to create an audience analysis and communication channels map.
  • Project the impact of an elevated role at the leadership table. What would that level of autonomy look like and how would it benefit the entire organization?

Elevator OUT: Take the steps

Many marketing communications professionals are responsible for managing social media, web site content, print publications, e-mail marketing, media relations, and advertising.

So, how do we move from task managers to valued leaders?

Marketing and communications pros can show colleagues how their wide-ranging work correlates to the organization’s larger goals in a step-by-step process much like a sales funnel or customer buying cycle. Each of these steps is equally valuable and a critical step in reaching the next.


Finally, let’s be honest. Elevating the role of marketing communications is not about ego. It’s really about making better use of our skills and experience in order to advance strategic goals and fulfill our mission more effectively. Who wouldn’t want that?

Join us to discuss elevating the role of marcom at this month’s #NPMC Twitter chat

Does your organization agree about the role of marketing communications? What can be done to take ego out of the conversation and focus on what is most important for your nonprofit mission? Join the conversation on Thursday, June 30th at 1:00 p.m. ET. Follow the #NMPC hashtag on Twitter.

Bill Skowronski

Bill Skowronski

Consultant at Constellation
Bill Skowronski is head of Constellation, an integrated marketing communications firm in Chicago, IL serving nonprofits and small businesses. Bill has worked in nonprofit leadership for nine years, specializing in public relations, content marketing, social media, graphic design, and strategic planning. At Constellation, he believes good should be shared, and he works with organizations to analyze their audiences and communication channels, develop strategic goals, and execute plans that inspire action.
Bill Skowronski
Bill Skowronski

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