So you want to get involved with your favorite nonprofit, and board service provides a great way for you to make a long-term impact. But you have a background in marketing–will they be able to use your skills? The answer is yes, and in more ways than you might realize. Check out the these 10 key ways that marketing professionals can lend their skills to board service in meaningful ways. Then visit our Board Service Hub for additional resources and to sign up for our free webinars open to corporations, nonprofits, and marketing professionals.
The following is adapted from the free book download Marketing Literacy for the Nonprofit Sector: Why Marketing Professionals Make Great Board Members.
1. “Manage” the organization’s reputation.
In today’s fast-paced media environment, no one better understands how quickly a reputation can be built and lost than the marketing professional. Being an ambassador is one of the basic responsibilities of a nonprofit board member, and having expertise on how to maintain messaging consistent with the organization’s core strategy and brand is a critical asset.
2. Help articulate and refresh the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
At the heart of any organization are these three guiding ideas that will shape the direction and strategy for years go come. These statements must be focused and practical, but also must resonate with stakeholders. As the driving forces behind the organization’s every action, why leave the task of crafting and clarifying the mission, vision, and values to amateurs?
3. Serve on the fundraising and development committee and/or help develop fundraising messaging.
It’s here that marketers can really tap into their skills of persuasion and provide resources with which to approach funders. The creativity of the marketing industry is needed to help organizations differentiate and articulate their unique value, and the media contacts marketers can provide will be much appreciated during outreach.
4. Take part in a branding exercise.
Any marketing professional will tell you a brand is more than a logo and tagline. A brand is a promise to deliver and the value proposition that your organization offers. Having a brand advocate on board will ensure that this important asset continues to be honed and developed.
5. Participate in strategic planning.
Behind every great marketing plan is careful, data-driven demographic analysis and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation. These are the tools that marketers can bring to nonprofit boards to ensure a systematic approach to strategic planning.
6. Provide access to pro bono marketing resources.
Pro bono marketing services can be a huge boon to nonprofits, but they don’t come free–they take time, energy, and talent. Having a marketing professional on a board helps organizations identify, scope, and support these potentially valuable engagements.
7. Lead board communications training.
Does your nonprofit board have an 30-second elevator speech about the organization? A marketing professional can help develop quick talking points that are direct and effective. One of the board’s goals is to promote the organization and help provide resources, and communications training can help individual members share more confidently, not to mention avoid potential public relations nightmares.
8. Develop and review an organizational crisis management plan.
As much as we hate to admit it, crisis happens, from disaster to scandal. It may not come for years, but it’s important to be ready with a way to manage the communications process and avoid potentially devastating fallout. A marketing professional who has had experience dealing with media may be just the person to provide the insight needed to craft such a plan for nonprofit boards.
9. Provide access to media through public relations.
Handling the media can be a science and an art. It takes someone who knows the industry to tap into coveted public relations opportunities and provide access to the daunting world of mass media. Every nonprofit has stories worth sharing, and a marketing professional can help shepherd them into the public eye.
10. Increase organizational awareness of emerging networking technology.
Facebook, Twitter, and the next big thing in social media. With the rapid pace of development, who can keep up with all these newfangled technologies? Marketers, that’s who. Networking sites are playing increasingly significant roles in the communications landscape, and having someone on the nonprofit board who can provide informed advice will help organizations use these powerful tools strategically.