Picking a nonprofit marketing consultant

By Chloé Gee on January 29, 2020

By Chloé Gee on January 29, 2020

Here at T&S, we love nonprofits. If you follow us on social media like Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen us share news from our nonprofit friends, photos from when we volunteer, and even launches of nonprofit websites.

It’s true, we love working with nonprofits! But we know we’re not a good fit for every nonprofit. If you help or run a nonprofit and are looking for some marketing help, here are four questions to ask yourself as you’re talking with potential consultants and agencies.

Question 1: Do they have experience working with nonprofits?

This may or may not be important to you. But if you end up working with someone who has experience working with nonprofits, things will likely go smoother.

A marketing consultant with nonprofit experience will understand things like the following:

  • The importance of online donations
  • What donor management software is and how to ingrate it into your website
  • The decision making process boards and committees use
  • What job titles like Executive Director and Director of Development mean
  • The idiosyncrasies of working with nonprofit coalitions like United Way

Understanding those aspects of nonprofits will result in the marketing they help you with being more effective.

Question 2: Do they have a passion for your mission?

It’s unlikely that any marketing consultant you work with will be as passionate about your mission as you are. But they should show some passion for what you do during your interactions!

Some red flags here could include:

  • They don’t ask any questions about your mission
  • They’re obviously faking excitement
  • They jump right into technicalities of your website without seeing what you’re trying to accomplish
  • They just don’t seem to be interested

If they show any of those signs, it may be time to find someone else. After all, if they’re not passionate about what you do, how can they help others become passionate about it?

Question 3: Do they give back to nonprofits?

Not every organization gives back to nonprofits. But if they do, that can obviously be a good sign. Are they doing any of the following?

  • Sponsoring nonprofit events
  • Volunteering as an organization
  • Doing pro bono work
  • Serving on any boards or committees

And just because they do give back doesn’t mean you should expect them to necessarily give back to your nonprofit. But it shows their heart is in the right place.

Question 4: Do they have special nonprofit rates?

Finally, it never hurts to ask if they have special nonprofit rates. Of course, they may not. If they do a lot of business with nonprofits, offering special discounted rates may be effectively shooting themselves in the foot. After all, you do want your marketing consultant to be around and able to help you for a long time, right?

Nonprofits are as varied as businesses in the for-profit world. And so are marketing consultants! It’s important that you select a nonprofit marketing consultant—or agency—that will best serve your needs.

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