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The Board as Your Nonprofit Marketing Team

When resources are spare and the cupboard seems bare, take a close look inside your nonprofit organization for resources to build your capacity.  I mean your capacity to deliver your mission, to do the good your donors expect you to do: to serve your primary customers (clients) and change behavior for the better.

This concept applies for social service, health, arts…you name it.  All manner of nonprofits.  Your business is to make life better. To somehow be able to manage change…for the better. And to engage resources that build your ability to deliver.

Start at the core of your nonprofit…your public benefit organization. Help your board of directors become marketing agents. Make this part of the board  job description.

My primary source for this concept is Gary Stern’s Champions With a Cause: The Nonprofit Board Member’s Role in Marketing. This booklet was published in 2005 by First Nonprofit Education Foundation. Find it. Get permission to reprint. Get busy putting the concepts to work. #1 of the Ten Things Every Board Member Should Know is: begin with your mission and focusing on your primary customer. Take a step-by-step approach to build board competence so they can act in a more deliberate way to help advance the mission and advance the brand.

Build in to this effort some focus on Social Media. There is lots of great, helpful tools to help make Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, blogs and more work to your advantage. For some New England-based expertise on this subject, I go to Bob Cargill who tweets as @CargillCreative, and whose blog, A New Marketing Commentator, is chock full of useful thinking going well beyond Social Media. Take a look at Bob’s Ten Ways to Succeed in Social Media at His tip #5: “Work as a Team” fits right in with Gary Stern’s approach to turn the board into your fundamental marketing advocate.

You will want the fundraising perspective to fit well in this marketing platform you’ll build. And to do this well, I recommend you check out Gayle Gifford ( She blogs as The Butterfly Effect. Her post #32 (of 100) things we need to learn: tips for business people joining a nonprofit board.  It’s good for business people to get their heads clear on the values of nonprofit “business” and how these compare/contrast with the for-profit side.  For example:  prudence is generally valued over risk-taking in the public-benefit sector. Not to the exclusion of taking risks. But generally, this is the deal.

So, friends, become acquainted with the tools of effective marketing practice, apply them. You shall be fruitful and multiply.

If I can help in this effort, you know how to reach me.

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