By Susan Burnash

It’s a fact: for a nonprofit to truly be successful in marketing, community outreach and fundraising it needs a vision and a plan. A plan that contains critical information around: organizational goals; current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; audiences and markets to target; and the strategies and tactics to deliver stronger engagement and support. That’s why nonprofits of every size need an annual Marketing Plan. (Download this Freebie as a PDF>>)

Without a Marketing Plan that is reviewed and updated annually, your nonprofit is much like a marathon runner without a route towards his final destination. And like the runner, you may in fact know where you want to go, but you will continue to run “blindly” never sure you are on the right path to get there. You’ll expend valuable time, energy and money but, worse yet, you may also ultimately lose your passion for the mission that started you on the journey.

If you aren’t sure your nonprofit currently needs an annual Marketing Plan, here are a few scenarios that might convince you that it does!

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Sadly, even under these circumstances, many nonprofits still consider creating a Marketing Plan low on their priority list. Why? Because they already feel understaffed, underfunded and probably under the wrong impression that writing a Marketing Plan is something that only a professional can do. But as a professional who has coached many nonprofits, and taught many “How-to” marketing classes, I will tell you this—writing a Marketing Plan really isn’t hard at all. With a little time, a commitment to the process, and the answers to questions you probably already know, YOU can write a Marketing Plan!

The key to writing a strong Marketing Plan is understanding that there is a process for doing so based on solid “Best Practices” that must be respected and followed exactly. Writing a Marketing Plan can be done alone or in a group setting with a team of supporters who have a passion for the work you do. Regardless of how you choose to tackle your nonprofit’s Marketing Plan, it is critical that you take the time necessary to complete each section thoroughly. Read the questions in each and answer them as comprehensively as possible. Don’t be concerned with providing long, detailed responses but do be concerned with including definitive and well thought through answers so that each section provides the data needed to continue on to the next. If you rush to get the Marketing Plan done, or skip through any of the required sections, I guarantee you will end up missing that golden nugget of information, or idea, that will get you closer to where you want to be. When you respect and follow the process, you will see the results you need to make your nonprofit the success you want it to be.

Once you have completed writing your nonprofit’s Marketing Plan, don’t stop there. The goal of creating the Marketing Plan is to put it into action. It should be shared with your staff, Board of Directors, financial supporters and anyone else who could potentially help you execute it more effectively. And, it should be referred to on a regular basis to direct all of your marketing and community outreach efforts.

Your Marketing Plan should be utilized to:

As you consistently integrate your Marketing Plan into your organization’s community outreach efforts, you will find that it is the most effective way for you to monitor and measure the success of your efforts. If you have executed a specific strategy, or used a particular tactic that didn’t produce the results you had hoped for, you must evaluate why. You must determine if there were any missteps, or misperceptions, that might have gotten in the way. And, you must determine if the results were impacted by outside factors like the time of year, a changing target audience, the economy, staffing, etc. A simple tweak might make a significant difference, but then again, after thorough evaluation it may become clear that it is time to move on to another strategy and tactic already identified in your plan.

What is important to know as you execute your nonprofit’s Marketing Plan is that good marketing always involves a series of trials, errors and successes. There are no magic bullets despite what you might hear, or want to believe. What might work for one nonprofit may or may not work for another. Unless you have the exact same target audiences and services, your nonprofit Marketing Plan needs to be focused on your unique situation and needs.

Are you now convinced that your nonprofit needs a Marketing Plan? Are you ready to create a roadmap for community outreach and support? Then, what are you waiting for? Get out your pencils, pens, pads and laptop, and write your nonprofit’s Marketing Plan. You CAN do this. I know YOU CAN!

Need some help getting started on your Nonprofit’s Marketing Plan? Join Purple Duck University in Atlanta for the first interactive workshop in our Nonprofit BootCamp “How to Write Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Plan.”


(An 8 hour 2 part Interactive Workshop for Nonprofits
and Cause Related Organizations)

Click here for Upcoming Dates, Registration, and downloadable information>>

PRICING: $150.00 for 2 4-hour workshop sessions.
(Nonprofits who want to take advantage of our 8 class BootCamp Program for $650 (a $100 savings) or the 3 class "Mini" BootCamp Program for $325 (a $50 savings) must sign up prior to attending their third class.)

The Ringer Center of Excellence
1526 E Forrest Ave., Suite 102
East Point, GA 30344 (map and directions)

Susan Burnash, Purple Duck Marketing (

For Nonprofits to be successful, it is critical that they understand the principles of effective Marketing and how to apply them to their organization. It is also critical that they have a marketing plan that can serve as the foundation for all their marketing efforts. For many Nonprofits, writing a marketing plan can be intimidating and confusing. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

Writing a marketing plan is easier than you think, and it doesn’t take a marketing degree or a great amount of time. In this hands-on workshop, you will learn the key elements contained in a Nonprofit Marketing Plan while embarking on an interactive journey to create one for your organization. You will work both individually and as part of a team to answer the questions a strong marketing plan must address. You will leave with a marketing plan outline, a new sense of confidence, and the excitement of having created a virtual roadmap to effectively reach your Nonprofit’s target audience.

Topics Covered in Part 1: (4 Hours)

Topics Covered in Part 2: (4 Hours)

This workshop includes: