5 marketing strategy tips for a non-profit associate board posted 03/07/13

By Joe Sullivan

Throughout the past three years, Launch has served as a consultant in building associate boards (young friends boards) for two St. Louis non-profits (Friends of Kids with Cancer and Friends of the St. Louis University Liver Center).

We’ve learned plenty in the process and want to share what has and has not been successful. If you’re unfamiliar with what an associate / young friends board is in the first place, here’s an overview of what they are and the purpose they serve.

Here are five marketing guidelines that an associate board can use to effectively promote and contribute to the mission of the parent non-profit organization.

1. Choose a leader with a marketing strategy background

We can’t stress the importance of this one enough. At least one key member (ideally more) of your associate board’s marketing committee should have a background in marketing strategy. This role could be filled by an account executive or by an account planner at an advertising or marketing firm, or someone with a strategic role in a business’ internal marketing department. Either way, a leader who has been a part of an organization’s marketing strategy is a significant asset to your committee.

2. Recruit a marketing committee with specific skill sets

You’ll need brochures, flyers and email blasts to promote the organization and your events, so we recommend recruiting a graphic designer for your associate board. You’ll need compelling messaging, so a good writer (preferably with a copywriting background) is key. And a member with PR experience can help the organization gain media exposure.

3. Define marketing success

Once your team is in place, the first thing you should do is clearly define what you’re looking to accomplish as a marketing committee. What can you accomplish that will promote the ultimate goals of your non-profit organization? Growth of an email database is a success in developing an audience. Inquiries about joining the board via website form submissions is a success in terms of recruitment. Online ticket sales to events through websites like Eventbrite or Brown Paper Tickets are successes at an event attendee level.

Once you define success, all of your marketing efforts (email blasts, social media posts, mailers, etc.) should be focused on accomplishing those specific things.

4. Make a simple website (right now!)

As a small part of a much bigger non-profit, it can sometimes be very difficult for an associate board to get their piece of the pie on the parent organization’s website. We therefore recommend starting that process as soon as possible.

With Young Friends of Kids with Cancer, the marketing committee started early and with permission of the organization, they worked directly with the website developer to get their own tab added to the site. Because they’re able to keep their tab up to date, they can drive people there from their email blasts, social media posts and other places to learn more about their associate board and how to get involved.

5. Assign specific responsibilities to each marketing committee member

After building a team of 3-5 people on your associate board’s marketing committee, be sure to assign specific roles for each member. Be clear about who is in charge of the monthly email newsletter, who is keeping the website up to date, and who is going to write and design the promotional flyer for your upcoming event. Pre-defining those roles and getting buy-off from each member on their responsibilities is key to creating an effective workflow.

We want to hear from you!

These 5 points stuck out from our own experience, but we’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences as well. We’d love to see your comments below.

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