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5 Challenges Nonprofit Marketers Face

Nonprofit marketers have a tough road ahead of them, but well-supported marketing teams can be key revenue drivers for organizations. That’s the message of’s Fundamentals of Marketing and Engagement at Nonprofit Organizations report., the Nonprofit Cloud developer, surveyed 404 nonprofit marketing professionals from organizations in the US (n=201) and the UK (n=203). The report paints a picture of what it takes for nonprofit marketing departments to succeed, and some of the challenges they currently face. 

Here are five obstacles that nonprofit marketers must find a way over, under, around or through. 

  1. Tailoring the Message

Individual donors made more than two-thirds of the approximately $427 billion worth of donations in 2018, according to Giving USA. Nonprofits that rely on individual contributions traditionally track and analyze donor demographics, carefully segment email and mailing lists, split test direct mail pieces and ads, and do everything else they can to ensure the right message goes to the right donor. 

Nonprofit marketers surveyed in’s report tell a different story. Some 70 percent of survey respondents do not differentiate their messaging to different constituents. Organizations that are smaller either in terms of staff size or revenue are less likely to craft different messages for different segments, which suggests manpower and expenses may be roadblocks.

  1. Personalized Communication at Scale

Perhaps due in part to the lack of segmentation in their marketing messages, 83 percent of respondents agreed that their organizations relied heavily on batch-and-blast email communications. 

This form of communication is efficient for contacting supporters en masse, and it has the added benefit of keeping marketing communications consistent and unified. What it’s missing is a personal touch. 

Consider social media which, according to the report, has overtaken email as the most widely adopted marketing channel among US survey respondents. Today’s donors expect to be met where they are by organizations, and social media allows one-to-one communication between constituents and nonprofit marketers.

  1. Measuring Key Performance Indicators

Management pioneer Peter Drucker, in his 1954 classic The Practice of Management, wrote, “What gets measured gets managed.” More than six decades later, that maxim rings as true as ever. Measuring success is another arena in which some nonprofit marketers fall short. Only half of organizations in the US (52 percent) and even fewer in the UK (41 percent) consider their ability to test and measure marketing campaigns very effective.

Top-performing marketing teams attribute tracking and measuring their marketing efforts as a key ingredient in their success. About half of US respondents and a third of UK respondents exceeded their marketing goals in the past fiscal year. Among those who have very effective ways of measuring campaigns, two-thirds of the US and 60 percent in the UK exceeded their goals. 

  1. Breaking Down Organizational Silos

Nonprofit marketers may have to collaborate and communicate with other departments to obtain granularly segmented prospect lists and data to measure performance. Some struggle with doing so. 

Only half of marketers in the US say it’s very easy to share marketing data with other teams. The flow of information across the organization is even more restricted in the UK where only 38 percent say it’s very easy. 

Some organizations grapple with cohesion, building silos between departments that compete for budget dollars and donor attribution. Large nonprofits need to be especially vigilant. Lack of internal cooperation was less likely to hinder survey respondents from smaller organizations, according to the report.

  1. Overcoming Budget Constraints

Difficulties plague nonprofit marketers from all directions. Over 85 percent of those surveyed say they face challenges in reaching their marketing and engagement goals. The number one roadblock is around budgetary constraints, affecting nearly half of marketers in the US and UK. This is consistent across most organizations, regardless of size and profile.

Technology and More

A high-performance marketing department can amplify your organization’s message, help you reach more donors and move your mission forward. Arm your team with actionable insights from The Fundamentals of Marketing and Engagement at Nonprofit Organizations, from 

You’ll learn about:

  • The top revenue-generating tools and channels
  • Where marketing departments will invest their time, talent and budgets in 2020
  • The team you need on-board to upgrade your marketing technology

…and more. Download your copy of’s Fundamentals of Marketing and Engagement at Nonprofit Organizations

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