How To Get Your Board on Board

3 Minute Read
Getting board approval takes metrics, benchmarks and goal setting.

How To Get Your Board on Board

3 Minute Read

Written by Julie Lisac

“Our organization desperately needs a new website, but…. one of our board members has a nephew who does freelance web design, so I didn’t get any budget approved.”

“The board recommended an expense reduction for this year, so I only have enough budget to focus on organic social media.”

“Our board is very engaged and involved, but they don’t really see the value in digital marketing.”

I have heard these statements and countless others over the last six years I’ve been doing business development at Fifty & Fifty. I sympathize with nonprofit marketing leaders trying to drive growth and increased results in the ever-changing digital world, often with one hand tied behind their back (the proverbial tie in this instance being budget constraints due to a volatile fundraising landscape.)

The individuals who make up a nonprofit’s board of directors focus on the organization’s high-level strategy, oversight, and accountability, contrasting with employees or managers overseeing the day-to-day operations. It’s no surprise that there’s a natural push and pull over critical decisions like allocating operating budgets and working around capacity limitations. I see you, person with the job title that looks like “Director of Growth/Development/Marketing/HR/Operations.”

If you’re in a marketing/communications seat at a nonprofit and want some ideas to increase your influence, here are three considerations:

1. Focus on metrics that matter

Reporting a quarterly increase in website traffic is solid, but how does that tie back to the bottom line? Focusing purely on “vanity metrics” like traffic, impressions, and social shares doesn’t paint the whole picture or tangibly drive home value. Instead, define what metrics matter the most to your organization with as much specificity as possible, including:

  • Conversion Rates: Conversion rates measure the percentage of website visitors or leads who take a desired action, such as donating, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter. The latter two may not pack as much punch by themselves, but when you consider that email-based marketing and promotional campaigns generate approximately 28% of all online nonprofit revenue, then the conversation can quickly change
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV quantifies the total value a supporter brings over their entire relationship with the organization. Ideally, you can use CLV to assess the long-term profitability of acquiring and retaining donors/partners through digital marketing initiatives. 

2. Leverage competitive benchmarking

Have you ever conducted a competitive analysis to understand your market position better? Where do you stack up against other nonprofits in the same geographical area or sector? This can be helpful in pinpointing where you are winning (bragging rights) or where there’s an opportunity for improvement (hello board, our website is holding us back from maximizing our marketing efforts; can we please plan for a redesign!?) Check out M+R Benchmarks for some simple ways to gauge performance.

3. Set goals and communicate the why

It’s expensive to acquire new donors, combine social media strategies, or do just about anything needed to have an effective digital ecosystem. For that reason, running an email campaign with no real goal isn’t going to serve you when you’re asking the board to consider an increased budget for getting graphic design support. Knowing why you’re employing the tactics you are and connecting the results of those initiatives directly back to your organization’s latest Strategic Plan creates pathways for a shared understanding and a framework for long-term success.

No doubt this is simply the tip of the iceberg, but in a world where data-driven results reign supreme it’s important to be equipped with everything you can to win over key decision-makers. Of course, if you’d prefer we help do the heavy lifting, give us a shout.

Ready for a plan that gets buy-in from the board? Contact Us

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