Marketing for Nonprofits: Finding the Right Advertising Agency

Marketing for Nonprofits: Finding the Right Advertising Agency

If an advertising or marketing agency offers a comprehensive suite of services, then they are probably qualified to help your nonprofit organization reach its goals, right? Think again.

Getting your story out is one thing, but understanding all the complexities, barriers, and budget restraints of a nonprofit organization is another. Let’s break down the key elements of a successful nonprofit marketing campaign and determine why working with a marketing partner who has real experience in the nonprofit world can make a difference:

1. Increasing funding. Since this is your organization’s sustainability, your marketing partner better have experience developing a multi-level donor base and know how to convert that base into faithful contributors and major donors. Building personal relationships with prospects moves them much closer to making a gift, so your marketing partner should be able to offer insight on ways to establish those relationships. Additionally, they need to have a firm grasp on how to develop effective “ask campaigns” that are in line with your goals and your donors’ interests. For a donor to take any initiative, the ask needs to feel right to them and the giving process needs to be seamless. Lastly, there’s the time-consuming grant application process. An experienced nonprofit marketing firm can help relieve that stress from you, too.

2. Speaking correctly to your audience. This seems obvious, and yes, it’s a universal marketing standard; but it’s of critical importance to most nonprofits. There’s simply more at stake for people relying on your services as opposed to those making decisions on which mobile phone company to use or which luxury vehicle to purchase. Since nonprofit agencies tend to serve the more vulnerable populations in our communities, the language, tone, and messages developed need to be honest, hopeful, and non-judgmental. With so many causes to people’s problems – and so many barriers to getting help – it is imperative that the agency you select brings a high level of respect and compassion to their creativity.

3. Connecting with community partners. It really does take a village. Are you networking with all the right partners and connecting those you serve with the right resources? How are your clients being referred to you? Do you have enough dedicated volunteers? If not, what’s your plan to gain more? Again, the right marketing team can help bridge these gaps and explore all the contact points needed to elevate your brand and your role.

4. Fitting it all in the budget. You will probably never have enough money to accomplish everything you’d like to do. However, that shouldn’t mean settling on freebies or piecing together a plan with multiple vendors hoping something works. Instead, shop around for a marketing agency with experience developing integrated campaigns. Ask if they offer discounts to nonprofit organizations like yours. Look at their work, and find out what impact they’ve helped their clients achieve.

Making a difference in the nonprofit sector is both challenging and rewarding. Finding the right marketing partner can make the process seamless and affordable. Review your goals and your budget, then shop around for an agency that has been actively engaged in nonprofit marketing for years. Don’t be afraid to ask for measurable results or even references from their clients. Good luck!

Linear Creative is a full-service marketing and advertising agency with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. The company specializes in marketing for nonprofits, and offers an agency discount to nonprofit groups who have restrained budgets and serve those in need. To learn more about the company, visit or call (216) 741-1533.