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When asked to justify your marketing and communications work

Sometimes I am fascinated by the disorientation of some nonprofit leaders. I recently heard about someone on the marketing and communications team at a mid-size charity who had been asked by their boss to quantitatively demonstrate why there should be a communications manager. In other words, the CEO of the organization was asking the marketing manager to prove it was worth the investment in dollars and cents.

In response, the marketing manager was claiming that his work had been directly related to some fundraising activities and that the success of the events was a direct result of the work. That was, in turn, disputed because a “team” put together those events and there was no direct link between the marketing manager and the organization’s revenue.

The thought of the CEO of a nonprofit organization is absurd.

How can a CEO ask a team member to justify their own position financially? It makes no sense and is a sign of a more significant problem within the nonprofit that apparently has something to do with the leader and not the marketing and communications manager.

I can’t imagine asking someone on my team to financially justify their position.

That’s my job!

Either I believe that all team members in my organization have value and are part of a larger whole, even if they are not directly responsible for the end result, or I do not.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to prove yourself to an uninformed CEO (while looking for another job in an organization that values ​​your talents), here are some of the ways you can prove yourself.

If your CEO wants data, give them lots of data.

  • Watch social media and get reports on different time frames or campaigns so you can show your organization’s performance in terms of impressions, likes, comments, retweets, etc.
  • Take a look at the emails you sent in support of the fundraising team (you know, the ones you’re probably writing for the fundraising group) and see the open and click-through rates. Also, take a look at the dollar value of these emails for donations received and the number of donors.
  • Go to your website and see the statistics on the number of people who visit your site, especially if it is linked to Google Analytics. Even if your developer created your site, I bet you and your marketing team worked on it too.
  • If you have any additional material (brochures, letters, annual reports, emails, Facebook pages, videos) that you worked on and helped drive traffic, then the impressions and donations that came through all of those items were motivated by your work. (even if you collaborated with others as a team).
  • Take a look at consulting costs in your area for a talented external marketing and communications team. Request two or three offers from third-party vendors, and then see how quickly your nonprofit is getting a bargain. My bet is that your boss has no idea how much would be spent if marketing and communications were completely outsourced.

I’m not sure what happens to some CEOs of nonprofits and why they devalue marketing and communications. If you’ve been in business for a while, I’m sure you’ve heard some of the horror stories about marketing groups having to prove themselves.

However, if this happens to you or your team, it’s bad news. It kills morale, and the reality is that there will probably never be anything you can say or do to “prove” yourself. Once a CEO asks you to prove yourself, the same question means you’re down.

The fault is not with you, but with the CEO, who fundamentally does not understand the role of marketing and communications for his organization and how it increases brand awareness and supports the fundraising function.

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