Raising awareness about your organization and cause is always claimed to be highly important but very often the resources to accomplish this are not directed to marketing or promotion. This is common in small and medium sized organizations that don’t have dedicated communications staff. What you often find are amounts allocated to marketing and promotion but no specific plan on how these funds will be spent.
Marketing and promotion budgets often have little supporting backup. There are either amounts with no real plan or if there is a marketing plan it hasn’t been properly costed. Staff without a background in communications may underestimate the costs involved. I have seen instances where marketing has been described as brochures and advertising. When it comes time to actually purchase advertising or create a brochure staff are surprised by the costs and are requesting additional funds or revising their original plans. There is another assumption that marketing can be done through social media and you won’t need much money. While social media may cost less than other forms of marketing there is still a cost and still requires staff time.
Another common occurence I have experienced over the years is that marketing and promotion is usually the first thing cut from the budget. It’s almost automatic that any spending in this area is frozen. However it would be wise to consider the consequences of cutting all of your marketing costs. If you are running a social enterprise cutting your marketing budget could negatively impact your sales. Your marketing efforts may be important to reaching your target of clients or participant numbers you have committed to serving. If your funding agreement indicates a certain amount to be spent on marketing you need to spend this money or else it’s returned to the government.
Marketing and promotion costs can be a difficult area for not for profit organizations to budget and manage. Much of this has to do with the lack of internal expertise. It would be wise to get the expertise in this area at least to get a fully developed plan that includes costs and success measures. From there you can decide how you will fund the plan so that when it is included in the budget you have something which is realistic and agreed upon by everyone. This also allows you to make better decisions on which costs to cut if you are in a financial situation where you need to trim costs.