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How Nonprofits Use Small Budgets to Make a Big Impact (with Brooke Wiseman)

Posted by Kevin Taeyaerts on November 26, 2019

Nonprofits have the same goal as any company: to increase their reach and spread their message. Normally, that’s what a marketing team does for a company. Large corporations typically rely on an in-house team with a massive budget or an outside agency to build the company brand. Nonprofits have none of that. A nonprofit is expected to create effective campaigns to achieve their mission with a fraction of the budget that corporations have. Most of the time, they don’t even have a marketing team, the work simply gets unloaded onto other positions in the company. So how do they do it?

To answer the question of “how," Meg Goodman spoke with Brooke Wiseman. Brooke is the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, a charity that mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. Brooke explains how nonprofits leverage corporate partnerships, volunteer evangelists and social media to compensate for the lack of resources available to them. Read on for a few excerpts from their insightful conversation. And of course, make sure to subscribe to J&See: Views on Marketing to hear a compelling interview like this once a month.

Q: Nonprofits are different. Often times you have small marketing teams and a small budget to work with. So, how do you make the most with what you have and how do you compete with the larger corporations who are in your space for dollars as well?

A: Our job is to help encourage people to come and help us, join our work and be part of what we do and also to encourage donors and to bring people along who are interested in supporting the mission of the organization… What we do is partner with a lot of corporations. We can’t compete with the dollars that are going into advertising but what we can do is join forces and start to work with corporations and businesses to help us get our message out… We have to always be sure that with even a very small thing we’re able to amplify our cause, that we’re able to talk about the difference that we make.

Q: How do nonprofits choose partners to help them with their fundraising efforts?

A: You really need to think about “are we mutually compatible?’ … You really have to have a plan and think, “Do we work well together? Are our visions compatible? What kind of business is it?” … You also have to have a checklist, as the nonprofit, to see that you’re in agreement on what the outcomes are going to be because you have to be sure that you kind of nail down all the different opportunities that are included and be sure that you have understanding on what’s going to come about at the end.

Q: What are some common misconceptions about nonprofits and what are some of the biggest challenges of running a nonprofit?

A: Some of the misconceptions about nonprofits are that people think that since they’re not spending dollars at the same level, that their salaries are different, that they’re not as skilled as perhaps big companies and I will contend, as a nonprofit person, that we are every bit as skilled … A lot of people also have trouble thinking of nonprofits as an actual business and in fact, although we are not profiting, we are businesses, we operate like everyone else. We just have to do a lot of those things with a lot less dollars and so I think we work harder and smarter.

Q: You mentioned word-of-mouth marketing, social media and different platforms. Talk about how that is important to you all and to nonprofits in general.

A: Word-of-mouth is very important; you really rely on your inside story… Another way to tell the story is social media. Social media is a great image for nonprofits because of the fact that it’s free… it’s really important and a lot of small nonprofits aren’t really ready for social media, they haven’t taken the time to get organized about it but it is well worth the time to do that. You should make sure that you have Instagram, that you’re able to post things there. That’s how you get a lot of other social media influencers involved with you and highlight other people that have big social media following… LinkedIn is really important. It’s different than some of the others but it’s the business platform. A lot of people who are running companies will look on LinkedIn to see what your organization is doing… Of course, always Facebook. I recommend that you always have your personal Facebook page separate from your business page.


Listen to the whole episode to hear what else Brooke has to say about nonprofit marketing. Download J&See: Views on Marketing on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Or you can listen to the episode on Google Podcasts and Simplecast. And make sure you subscribe to get a new episode every month.

Topics: Direct Marketing, Podcast, Nonprofit

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