Nonprofits Cut Marketing Spend, Up Marketing Tech

Nonprofits might be lagging their commercial counterparts’ fiscal ability to boost marketing technology spending during the Covid-19 crisis, but the willingness is nonetheless there.

On the one hand, nonprofit marketing managers are more likely to cut their marketing spending than most other industries. On the other, more are accelerating existing marketing technology project timelines, according to a study from Columbia, Md.-based marketing agency Merkle.

Marketing spending on nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic increased at 52 percent of polled organizations. But nonprofits are at the bottom of the pack, with only 17 percent with increased budgets. At that level, they trail high-tech and financial firms by more than 30 percentage points.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the spending leaders were health firms (70 percent of which announced marketing spend increases) and insurance companies (60 percent of which are boosting their spending.)

The drop in nonprofit marketing spending might be the result of their tighter focuses. “The smart nonprofits are focusing their efforts on localized, relevant messaging and getting more efficient in their marketing spend by focusing on the individuals who can deliver the highest ROI,” Colin Stewart, senior vice president and general manager, nonprofit at Merkle was quoted as saying within the study.

Within nonprofits, implementation timelines for marketing tech projects that had been in the works – and which for which budgets had previously been secured – are being sped up. With 61 percent indicating they were accelerating the deadlines of their marketing technology initiatives, nonprofits trail only insurance companies (90 percent) regarding their pushes for completion.

Nonprofits were followed by retail organizations, 57 percent of which are accelerating their marketing tech projects, health companies (48 percent), travel, media and entertainment firms (47 percent), financial firms (46 percent) and high-tech product companies (42 percent.)

Nonprofits are also among the most likely organizations to accelerate their multichannel addressable campaign activities. While financial firms were most likely to do so, with 85 percent speeding up their addressable advertising campaigns, at 83 percent both nonprofits and health firms closely followed.

While Merkle did not break out marketing initiatives by industry, overall half of all companies surveyed indicated they were trying new marketing technologies or features, and 45 percent mentioned becoming more customer-centric in their marketing messages. A little more than one-third (37 percent) cited leveraging new creative development or deployment strategies or developing new analytics models. Prospecting has taken a back seat during the current uncertain economic climate. Only one-third of all firms indicated they were pursuing new audiences.

In June, Merkle surveyed 400 marketers at U.S.- and U.K.-based firms through Ugam, its data and analytics subsidiary.