The Benefits of a Marketing Blueprint for Nonprofits

By Nicholas Longtin | May 2022

An illustration of people creating a website blueprint.

Marketing is often put in the challenging spot of being necessary to help make sales or drive donations that keep a nonprofit funded but also being the first department to have its budget slashed when times are tough. 

Because sales or fundraising is often a separate department and skillset from marketing, it can be hard to prove the value of specific marketing efforts. But difficult doesn't mean impossible. 

What Goes Into a Marketing Blueprint? 

There are five critical components to a successful marketing blueprint:

  • Audience or customer personas to clearly define whom you are targeting
  • A strong brand voice and style guide for a consistent look and feel across channels
  • Plans for marketing campaigns and major marketing efforts as well as day-to-day content marketing
  • Attainable and stretch goals for fundraisers and donations
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help to measure and define success

How a Marketing Blueprint Can Help Your Nonprofit

People who gravitate to marketing roles tend to be creative and good with words and communication. However, running a successful marketing department requires a good handle on the numbers as well.

That's where a marketing blueprint comes in. Having a blueprint or plan for success is essential to not just making sure that all of your efforts are aligned toward a common goal. It also creates KPIs and campaign goals that your hard work can be measured against. 

A good marketing blueprint for a nonprofit will include your audience, your brand, your goals, your plan, and how you measure the success of that plan. 

Having a plan and blueprint to guide your nonprofit's marketing efforts is especially important when budgets are tight. As they so often are for nonprofits. Having a blueprint helps your nonprofit get the most out of every marketing dollar spent. 

Why Do You Need a Marketing Blueprint?

As we've already mentioned, a marketing blueprint is essential for nonprofits because it helps you to plan and be able to measure success. But that's really just the start.

Having a marketing plan is the only way to put your efforts and that of your marketing staff to work in the most intelligent way possible. With a plan, your team knows what they need to do and knows what their goals are.

A marketing blueprint will help you avoid taking a scattershot approach where everyone on the team runs from one emergency to the next. This lack of strategy leads to everyone trying to capture momentum while they just end up spinning their wheels. 

With a marketing blueprint, you know that everyone on the team and across the entire organization is on the same page. When you're all working together to achieve goals, you can spend less time handholding with your staff. They can feel empowered to use their creativity and skills in a way that leads to them doing their best work.

It also avoids budget overages because you are spending each dollar wisely. A solid content marketing strategy will lead to efficiencies that allow you to stretch every bit of content you create across platforms.

And, by defining a baseline for your KPIs and setting measurable goals, you will be able to prove the value of the work you are doing. Tracking and measuring the performance of your marketing efforts, whether that's increasing social media followers or web traffic, or improved volunteer signups, helps your team and your leadership recognize the value of what you're doing. 

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The Importance of Planning and Goal Setting

When working with nonprofits, the most common hangups we see are related to planning and goal setting. We recommend leveraging S.M.A.R.T. goals to overcome resistance or fear around setting goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Here's an example of what S.M.A.R.T. goals may look like for a nonprofit:

  • Specific - Share valuable information about your cause via your newsletter once a month
  • Measurable - Increase email open rates to 60% every month, across all email communications
  • Attainable - Your current open rates are 45%, making the 60% mark attainable
  • Relevant - Through your newsletter, you will attract more donations and increase our ability to serve your cause
  • Timely - Start sending out the newsletter on the first week of next month

Additionally, we identify critical areas where you can make more impact. Think of this as capturing the low-hanging fruit. We put together a 90-day priority list to provide clear and specific actions you can take to start seeing results fast

Behind the Scenes of ArcStone's Unique Blueprint Process

At Arcstone, as a nonprofit digital agency, when we start working with you, we take the time to learn about your organization, goals, and audience. We set aside time for discovery and strategy to allow us to get to know your nonprofit better. It helps us ensure that we are on the same page and working toward the same goals.

This "get to know you" phase informs the nonprofit communications toolkit that we create with your nonprofit in mind. Each toolkit is unique and includes your audience and personas, as well as your brand voice and style guide. We also create a One Page Plan to help guide our efforts. This One Page Plan serves as a living dashboard to provide an overview of all critical blueprint information and the current active marketing campaigns and goals.

We work hard to ensure that everything we're doing will get you results. Diving deep into persona and audience development and helping you define your brand provides a foundation for the marketing efforts and strategy to come. 

Once the foundation has been laid, it's time to strategize!

We start by finding a baseline of your current work, which then informs the KPIs that help us measure success. After all, we can't measure progress if we don't define our starting point. Then we work with you to set concrete goals for your marketing efforts. Because we know nonprofit marketing budgets are tight, we focus on the areas we know will have the most impact. 

Once we have goals in place, it's time to budget and allocate funds toward your marketing efforts. Because we take such care in laying the groundwork, your nonprofit can feel confident in providing the funds and resources needed to achieve your goals. 

With a marketing blueprint for your nonprofit, you are more likely to achieve your goals and manage your budget. And, with straightforward ways to measure success, you can prove the value you bring to the organization. 

Topics: Digital Marketing

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