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I’m sometimes fascinated by the cluelessness of some nonprofit leaders. I recently heard about someone on the marketing and communications team of a medium-sized charity that had been asked by his boss to demonstrate in quantitative means why there should be any communications manager. In other words, the executive director of the organization was asking the marketing manager to prove that they were worth the investment in dollars and cents.

In response, the marketing manager was stating that their work had been directly tied to some fundraisers and 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 not a direct link between the marketing manager and the revenue to the organization.

The thinking of the nonprofit executive director is absurd.

How can any executive director 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 ever asking anyone on my team to justify their position financially.

That’s my job!

Either I think every team member in my organization has a value and plays a part of the larger whole, even if they’re not responsible directly for the bottom line, or I don’t.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to prove your worth to an uninformed executive director (while you look for another job at an organization that will value your talents), here are some of the ways you can show your value.

If your executive director wants data, give them data––lots of it.

  • Look at social media and get reporting across different time periods or campaigns so you can show your organization’s performance concerning impressions, likes, comments, retweets, etc.
  • Take a look at the emails sent by you in support of the fundraising team (you know, the ones you’re probably writing for fundraisers 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 visiting your site, especially if it’s linked to Google Analytics. Even if your developer created your site, my bet is you and your marketing team worked on it as well.
  • If you have any collateral (brochures, letters, annual reports, emails, Facebook pages, videos) 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 the consulting costs in your area for a talented external marketing and communications team. Request two to three bids from outside vendors and then see how quickly your nonprofit is getting a bargain. My bet is your boss has no idea how much would be spent if the marketing and communications were entirely outsourced.

I’m not sure what it is with some nonprofit executive directors and why they devalue marketing and communications. If you’ve been in the business for a while, I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the horror stories about marketing groups having to prove their worth.

However, if this is happening to you or your team, this is bad news. It kills morale, and the reality is that there will likely never be anything that you could say or do to “prove” your worth. Once an executive director asks you to prove your worth, the very question means your sunk.

The fault is not in you, but it is in the executive director who does not fundamentally understand the role of marketing and communications for their organization and how it raises brand awareness and supports the fundraising function.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Be Bold, Dominate and Succeed in Marketing For Today’s Digital World On A Limited Budget” (Free Digital Download)

© 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.