Changing Role of NFP Marketing& Communications Managers
25 January 2016 at 9:43 am
With the advent of digital and content marketing and the plateauing of donations across Australia, the Not for Profit sector and fundraising have changed dramatically and so have the roles and responsibilities of NFP Marketing and Communications Managers, writes recruiting expert Prudence Hayes.
Gone are the days when a marketing and communications manager within this sector had a different set of skills to their counterparts in the corporate sector.
Traditionally, the two sectors recruited within themselves and rarely crossed over. Whereas, today, it’s not a matter of where you have worked before, it’s a matter of how you can assist the company break through the noise and get heard.
As someone who has been recruiting in this field for several years, many of my clients are requesting that I look outside the usual talent pool of candidates who traditionally work within this field.
The brief is now simple: find me someone who thinks commercially, is digitally savvy and won’t roll out the same programs as our competitors.
Anglicare’s Marketing and Fundraising Director, Heidi Monsour, has worked in the industry for many years and said people working within these areas need to bring learnings and practices from the corporate ‘for profit’ world to their work environment.
“I like to say we need to be more ‘not-for-pocket’ as opposed to Not for Profit’,” Monsour said.
“Our corporate supporters want, and need, us to think and act like corporate managers who are trying to make a profit because that is what funds our missional and social work in the community.
“Becoming and acting more corporate means we become more sustainable, transparent, and innovative, and will have a bigger impact on the causes we champion. This is good for the industry as a whole.”
So why the change of thinking? Many in the industry tell me it’s because the face of fundraising has fundamentally changed.
“Fundraising is now about working with donors differently, as we need to distinguish the difference between the act of philanthropy versus making a donation,” Monsour said.
“For example, instead of trying to get people to give money we need to attach it to a cause. Look at how they are currently spending their money and make it as easy as possible for them to give.
“An example of someone doing this well is the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer campaign where they partner with existing businesses’ and household products.
“People are more than willing to buy the product if it is the same cost or even just slightly more if they think they are contributing to a good cause.
“From a company perspective, the profits can outweigh the donations and it’s sometimes a tax write-off, so it is easy to see ‘what’s in it for them’.”
In the past few years, Australian wages have risen, but our charitable giving have plateaued.
Just over a third of Australians donate to tax-deductible organisations, and the average donation is 0.37 per cent of the average income.
“Over time, salaries have gone back up, but donations and fundraising have remained the same,” Monsour said.
“If you where to look at giving as a percentage of a person’s income from then to now it hasn’t replicated in growth.
“As an industry we have to work even harder to connect with people.”
Cancer Council Queensland Marketing Manager Kristy Ellery agreed and said anyone working in marketing, regardless of sector, needs to work harder when it comes to competing for attention and getting in front of the end consumer or customer.
So what does a Marketing and Communications Manager in this sector, or someone who wants to work within this field, need to do to become a desirable employee?
Strategy and wisdom
“There is a saying ‘knowledge is about knowing that a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad’,” Monsour said.
“I always ask my team ‘how would you do this if it had never been done before?’
“Sometimes we need reminding that we don’t always have to do things because that’s the way it has always been done.”
Ellery said the key is to be ahead of new information and then secondly, continue to engage and bring your team along with your strategy.
“My recommendations would be liaise with your peers, attend conferences, learn about future trends, not just current, and continually update your skills,” Ellery said.
“Form good relationships with the IT team and continue to read and learn about the effects automation will have in your department. Research, read, ask questions. Be knowledgeable.
“Then you have to get buy-in from the organisation and your team so people engage and understand your strategy.
“Engagement and stakeholder management is key to you succeeding in your role.”
Change the mind-set
This is fundamental to the industry, but also to tomorrow’s workforce. The days of just getting a social photographer and the city’s A-listers to an event is not going to cut it for a manager in this role.
“Tomorrow’s workforce needs to think of how we can get more people involved in philanthropy, rather than just asking for a donation,” Monsour said.
“It’s about being commercially able to understand the difference between gross and net and being able to use that language internally and externally.
“Innovative different people who come from a franchise or corporate background do this well as they are continually asked to justify and report on their time and the results of campaigns etc… it’s all about ROI and wallet space.”
Become digitally savvy
Don’t just leave this to the social media experts. As a manager you need to have awareness and understanding of how it works, but also what you should be able to expect from your team.
Ellery said digital marketing has revolutionised how marketers operate and engage with the consumer or donor.
“It has also opened up the market for smaller charities or NFPs to become equal playing partners and to pursue donor conversions,” Ellery said.
“In the past, it was really dominated by the bigger players who had bigger budgets who could buy lists or dominate the media channels.
“Over the past five years, we’ve seen the increase in budget and spend across the digital space.
“It is quick, measurable and allows us to see data in real time, then off course you can change the message and re-target your message if it doesn’t work, whereas traditional mediums that was available.
“I would strongly recommend anyone looking at joining this sector to strengthen their understanding of technology as it will assist them in getting the best out of available digital platforms. We need to be future proofed, it’s not just all about today’s work.”
Digital marketing is great for building awareness and cutting through to the story or cause behind your campaign. The cut through for digital and social media is far greater in telling stories and showing where the money will go thanks to the donor’s financial support.
That said don’t discount personal interaction skills: while digital is the key, nothing will ever replace the value as personal interaction.
Develop and build on your personal skills, your engagement and leadership skills. Are you an influencer?
Don’t forget to tell a story
Ellery said the most powerful campaigns in NFP are always around telling a story and providing real life case studies.
“It’s always about telling a story for us and digital allows us to convey this story more effectively through interactive mediums,” she said.
“The key is in becoming more efficient in capturing stories and asking the right questions.
“As we see with our corporate counterparts, stories are a great way to reiterate, through multiple touch points, where donor money goes and what we spend the money on.
“For example, instead of just saying $14 million in 2014 was spent on research, $33.4 million was raised through community funding, share the stories of the people who were supported and received the benefits of this wonderful work.
“Putting data and stories together assists in engagement and conversion.”
Be a jack of all trades
And finally, the days of having a graphic designer, a marketing manager, a communications manager, a fundraising manager, and a social media expert are long gone.
At times, two people or (at times one person) will be required to be across all of this.
The dotted lines between each field has been erased and they are all interlinked and need to work together to cut through the noise.
About the author: Prudence Hayes is a Practice Leader with specialist recruiters, Davidson Corporate, and has been leading the way in implementing new practices to attract and retain innovative talent within the Not for Profit sector. Hayes regularly writes about the Not for Profit and marketing and communications industries.