Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Module #7: Designing and Marketing Your Programs
Much of this program is based on materials adapted from the
Nonprofit Capacity Building Toolkit(SM).
Much of the content of this module was adapted from the guidebook, Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing
This module is in the nonprofit organization development program.
However, this module can also be used by anyone as a self-study
exercise to learn more about designing a marketing nonprofit programs.
Sections of This Module Include the Following
The three major sections of personnel in nonprofits are usually
governance (the board of directors), central administration or
general operations (executive director, central offices, etc.),
and programs. Nonprofit organizations usually manage their products
and services (to clients) in the form of programs. Program services
to clients is the primary reason that the nonprofit exists. Therefore,
it’s critical to know how to plan and market programs.
There is often a great deal of misunderstanding about marketing.
People often consider marketing to be the same as advertising.
It’s not. Advertising is only one part of marketing. Marketing
is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you’re
continuing to meet the needs of your clients and getting value
The market analysis includes finding out what groups of clients
(or markets) exist, what their needs are, what groups of clients
you prefer to serve (target markets), what products or services
you might develop to meet their needs, how the clients prefer
to use the products and services, what your competitors are doing,
what pricing you should use and how you should distribute products
and services to clients. The results of this marketing analysis indicate
the position, or market “niche”, for the nonprofit to
work from — and to be seen as having. Marketing also includes
ongoing promotions, which can include advertising, public relations,
sales and customer service. Various methods of market research
are used to find out information about markets, target markets
and their needs, competitors, market trends, and customer satisfaction
with products and services, etc.
NOTE ABOUT THE LARGE SIZE OF THIS MODULE: This module is one
of the largest in the program. The activity of marketing an organization
and its programs are critical to the success of the organization
and its programs — the marketing process is broad and sometimes
quite detailed. Learners who have very limited time schedules
might proceed through this module primarily by reviewing the learning
materials and then thinking about how they would carry out (rather
than actually carrying out) the various activities to build structures
in their organization.
NOTE ABOUT USE OF TERM “SERVICES”: Marketing is in
regard to organizations, and their products and services. Nonprofit
organizations exist largely to provide services to the community.
Services can be provided by providing services — also by providing
products (or tangible services) to clients. In this document,
products and services are referred to by the use of the term “services”.
NOTE ABOUT BOARD COMMITTEES: Consider establishing a Programs
Committee or Marketing Committee to review and help guide implementation
of the information in this learning module. Major activities and
goals from this learning module could be incorporated into that
Committee’s Committee Work Plan.
- Understand Program Design
- Construct a Program Logic Model
- Clarify Program Outcomes, Goals, and Strategies
- Conduct Basic Market Analysis for Each Program
- Draft Your Public and Media Relations Plan
- Draft Your Sales Plan
- Draft Your Advertising and Promotions Plan
- Organize Your Marketing and Promotions Plan
- Evaluate Your Program Planning Practices
MATERIALS FOR REVIEW
- The following materials will help you address each of
the topics and learning activities in this module.
Program Design, Marketing, and Promotions
NOTE: The following link is to a sizable document. The learner
might be better off time-wise to do a quick read of the guide,
and then deepen and enrich the learning in the following section
of this module, “Activities to Build Systems and Practices”.
That section guides the learner through the process of designing
a program (including its logic model) and then marketing and promoting
the program (including marketing the organization). The activities
in this section might reinforce the learning in the following
extensive guide if the learner regularly refers to the guide while
completing the activities to build systems and practices.
Marketing Basics, Analysis, and Positioning
— particularly the sections:
– – – Marketing
(the introduction “Marketing” — A Commonly Misunderstood
– – – Basics
of Market Planning (read first 7 articles about doing a marketing
– – – Market
Research — particularly the sections:
– – – – – – Basic
Methods to Get Feedback from Customers (read all)
– – – – – – Some
Major Sources of Market Research Information (read all)
– – – Competitive
Analysis (read the introduction at the top of the page)
– – – – – – Direct
and Indirect Competition – Definitions
– – – – – – What
is Competitive Intelligence?
– – – Pricing
(read the introduction at the top of the page)
– – – Naming
and Branding (read the introduction at the top of the page)
– – – Intellectual
Property (read the introduction at the top of the page)
– – – Positioning
(read the introduction at the top of the page)
Advertising and Promotions
Public and Media Relations
Optional — Customer Service
SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR REFLECTION
- Learners are strongly encouraged to discuss the following
questions with peers, board members, management, and staff, as
Basics of Program Design
The Basic Guide to Nonprofit Program Design and Marketing
includes answers to the following questions.
1. What is a nonprofit program?
2. Describe program inputs? Processes? Outputs? Outcomes?
3. Why should program planning be closely aligned with strategic
4. Who should be involved in program planning?
Basics of Marketing
1. Define marketing. Advertising. Promotions. Public relations.
Publicity. Sales. In your definitions, include how these terms
are similar and different. (See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public
Relations and Publicity, and Sales?)
2. What is inbound marketing? Outbound marketing? (See Marketing
(the introduction “Marketing” — A Commonly Misunderstood
3. What is market analysis? (See Basics of Marketing — introduction.)
4. What is market research? (See Market Research — introduction.)
Basics of Marketing Analysis and Positioning
1. What is a target market? How does one define a target market?
(See Marketing (the introduction “Marketing”
— A Commonly Misunderstood Term”.)
2. What is a competitor analysis? (See Competitive Intelligence — introduction.)
3. What should be considered when setting the price for a product
or service? (See Marketing Pricing — introduction.)
4. What should be considered when naming a product or service?
(See Naming and Branding — introduction.)
5. What is intellectual property? (See Intellectual Property — introduction.)
6. What is a positioning statement? (See Positioning — introduction.)
Public and Media Relations
1. What is public relations? (See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public
Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and Managing Your Public Image.)
2. Name at least three practices in maintaining strong public
relations. (See Managing Your Image (Public Relations).)
3. What is media relations? (See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public
Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and Managing Media Relations.)
4. Name at least three practices for maintaining strong media
relations. (See Managing Media Relations.)
1. What is sales? (See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public
Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and What is Sales?.)
2. What are some basic steps in the sales process? (See Understanding
the Sales Process.)
1. What are some basic steps in the maintaining high-quality
customer service? (See Customer Service.)
ACTIVITIES TO BUILD SYSTEMS AND
- Learners are strongly encouraged to complete the following
activities, and share and discuss results with peers, board members,
management and staff, as appropriate.
- Various activities below will direct you to complete your Program Design
Plan by filling in the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Program Structural Design.
- Various activities below will direct you to complete your
Program Marketing and Promotions Plan by filling in the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and
- As you proceed through the following activities, be sure
to note any incomplete actions in the Action Item Planning List.
Designing the Strategic Structure of Each of Your Programs
The structural design is the “skeleton” on which
the nonprofit program is designed. Nonprofit management can reference
this structure when planning program resources and budgets, staffing, and operational procedures to provide services to clients.
The “skeleton” is comprised of the program goals,
strategies, and objectives, which should follow directly from the
goals, strategies, and objectives produced during strategic planning.
(Therefore, learners in the program can design their programs
by using many of the results from the previous strategic planning
module.) The program goals are selected in order to accomplish
certain benefits, or outcomes, for clients.
The goals, outcomes, strategies, and objectives are a major
portion of the program plan. This plan usually also includes a description
of resources needed to achieve the goals and objectives, and the
funding necessary to obtain and use the resources. Required resources
usually include human resources, which are often described in
terms of necessary skills and capabilities. The necessary funding
is often depicted in the form of a program budget.
Program strategies are usually carefully described in the form
of descriptions of methods to deliver services to clients.
1. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Program Structural Design.,
list the goals for the program. Each program should be intended to achieve at
least one of the strategic goals, and may achieve more.
2. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Program Structural Design.,
under each goal, list the outcome that the goal is geared to achieve for clients.
Program goals are intended to accomplish certain benefits, or outcomes, for
clients. List the outcomes intended for the program. Note that outcomes are
not always directly associated with a specific goal, but may be accomplished
across several goals.
3. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Program Structural Design.,
under each goal, list the strategies needed to achieve the goal. Program strategies
are the major methods that are intended to be used to achieve the goals of the
program. Often there are a set of strategies for each goal. However, strategies
may combine to accomplish several goals. Program strategies often become major
methods for delivering services to clients.
4. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Program Structural Design.,
under each strategy, list the objectives along the way to achieving the goal
and implementing the strategy. Next to each objective, list who is responsible
to achieve the objective and by when.
Updating Logic Models of Your Organization and Each Program
1. In the learning module “Starting and Understanding
Your Nonprofit”, learners designed a very basic logic model
of their nonprofit organization. Logic models depict the overall
flow of the major parts of an organization or program to produce
desired results for clients. Now that the learner has completed
the strategic planning process, then he or she is likely to have
much more specificity about the organization and its programs,
including program goals, inputs, processes (strategies), outputs
and outcomes. Therefore, return to your logic models for your
organization and each program. Update the models to reflect what
you’ve learned during strategic planning. (For assistance, see
Guidelines and Framework for Designing Basic
Writing Your Marketing Plan for Each Program or Service
NOTE: This Plan should be focused on a particular program (product
or service), because each has its own different description, features
and benefits, customers, competitors, and pricing.
Describe Your Service
1. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, write a description of the service. The description
should be written as if your clients are the readers. In the description,
include the specific groups of clients served by the service,
the nature of the method(s) in the service, outcomes for clients and
any other benefits to them, and where they should go next if they
are interested in using the service. Be careful to describe the
services in terms of benefits to clients, not to you. For example,
address pricing, convenience, location, quality, service, atmosphere,
List Your Target Market(s)
2. In the table in Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, write a brief description of the major groups of clients
who will benefit from your service and the major benefits to them.
Remember that the overall goals of the organization very much
determine whom you want to serve. For example, strategic goals
might be to expand the number of clients you have now, get new
clients, get more revenue from current clients, etc. You may want
to develop new services in a current or new market or expand
current services in a current or new market.
Understanding your program’s target markets makes it much easier
for you to ensure that your program remains highly effective.
In addition to helping focus the results and evaluation of your
services, understanding your target markets helps you to focus
on where to promote your services, including advertising, conducting
public relations campaigns, and selling your services. If you’ve
done a good job so far of strategic planning, then identifying
the primary target market should be fairly straightforward. However,
it is very useful to determine several additional target markets.
These additional markets are often where you should focus promotions
and mean additional sources of assistance and revenue. (If you
struggle to identify your target markets, the following links
might help you, including How to Identify a Target Market
and Prepare a Customer Profile and Marketing Research.)
Write a Profile of Each Target Market
3. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, write a description of each of your target markets.
The more you know about your clients, the better you might be
at serving them. Consider, for example, their major needs, how
they prefer to have their needs met, where they are, and where
they prefer to have their needs met and demographic information
(their age ranges, family arrangement, education levels, income
levels, typical occupations, major interests, etc).
Analysis of Competitors
4. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and write results from your analysis of your competitors.
Yes, nonprofits do have competitors — competitors to provide
services and competitors to obtain funding. Consider the following
questions: Who are your competitors? What client needs are you
competing to meet? What are the similarities and differences between
their service and yours? What are the strengths and weaknesses
of their service? How do their prices compare to yours? How are
they doing overall? How do you plan to compete, for example, offer
better quality services, lower prices, more support, easier access
to services etc? (For assistance, see Competitive Analysis.)
Analysis of Collaborators
5. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and write results from your analysis of potential collaborators.
Who are potential collaborators with your nonprofit? What client
needs might you collaborate to meet? What resources might they
bring and what could you bring? What could you do next to cultivate
collaboration with other agencies? (For assistance, see Organizational Alliances.)
6. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and write results from your pricing analysis. Several major
factors influence the pricing of a service. Strategic goals greatly
influence pricing. For example, the values of the nonprofit might
be to serve as many people as possible, including by not charging
fees or by charging very low prices. Or, for example, if the
nonprofit really wants to get into a new market, then it might
charge lower than usual prices in order to generate more clients
who buy the service. The nonprofit might consider changing pricing
if the demand for its services is very high or low. Competitor
pricing also has a great effect. If competitors are charging much
less, then the nonprofit might do well to lower prices. Similarly,
if the competitor is charging much more, then the nonprofit might
consider increasing its own prices. (For assistance, see Pricing.)
Write Your Sales Plan
7. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and fill in the sales plan. Regarding your sales planning,
consider: What target markets will be approached? What should
be your sales method for each target market, for example, who
will make initial contacts to generate leads, do follow-ups to
initial contacts, make presentations, and close sales? How much
do you expect to accomplish in sales (consider terms of outputs,
such as dollars made, clients recruited, or other units of service).
(For assistance, see Understanding the Sales Process..)
Write Your Advertising and Promotions Plan
8. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and fill in the advertising and promotions plan. The plan
includes what target markets you want to reach, what features
and benefits you want to convey to each of them, what methods
and media you will use to convey it to them, who is responsible
to implement the methods and how much money is budgeted for this
effort. The plan includes plans for a promotional campaign, including
an advertising calendar and media plan. The goals of the plans
should depend very much on the overall goals and strategies of
the organization, and the results of the marketing analysis, including
the positioning statement.
When selecting methods, consider what communications methods
and media will be most effective in reaching target markets (groups
of clients) and when. What are their preferences for media and
when do they use them? (The link Basic Methods to Get Feedback from Customers
might be helpful now.) Consider, for example, radio, newsletters,
classifieds, displays/signs, posters, word of mouth, press releases,
direct mail, special events, brochures, neighborhood newsletters,
etc. What media is most practical for you to use in terms of access
and affordability? (The link Major Methods of Advertising and Promotion
might be helpful now.)
(For additional assistance, see Advertising and Promotion .)
Conduct Your Customer Service Planning
9. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and fill in the customer service plan. When considering
how you will ensure strong services to clients, consider: Are
clients very satisfied with your services? How do you know? If
not, what can you do to improve customer service? How can you
do that? What policies and procedures are needed to ensure strong
customer service? Include training in your considerations, including
developing skills in interpersonal relations, such as questioning,
listening, handling difficult people, handling interpersonal conflicts,
and negotiating. (For assistance, see Customer Service, Basic Methods to Get Feedback from Customers,
Questioning, Listening, Handling Interpersonal Conflict, Handling Difficult People, and Negotiating.)
Conduct Your Production Planning
10. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and fill in the section about production planning. Note that
the development and implementation of various production methods
do not have to be addressed in detail in a marketing plan — these
topics are usually included in the operations or management planning
for the program. However, production should be generally considered
during the marketing analysis to ensure the eventual detailed
production planning takes into consideration the needs of target
markets and having their needs met on time. Consider: What resources
do you need to build, reproduce and provide the service? How do
you know? Will you have sufficient resources in the near future?
How do you know?
Conduct Your Distribution Planning
11. In the Framework for Basic Nonprofit Marketing and Promotions
Plan, and fill in the section about distribution planning. Matters
of distribution of service can be critical for a nonprofit, especially
if they are providing critically needed services to specific groups
of clients. For example, low-income clients may not be able to
afford transportation to other areas to receive your services.
Carefully consider: What distribution channels should you consider,
for example, should clients come to your facility, you visit their
offices, can you provide services over the telephone, etc? What
resources are needed to bring together your services and your
target markets? What major steps need to occur to accomplish these
distribution channels? (The link Distribution may help you.)
Note that detailed planning about developing and maintaining
distribution channels are often included in the operations or management
plans, rather than in the marketing plan. However, the marketing
analysis should focus on selecting the methods of distribution
that best meet the needs of target markets and the nonprofit.
Designing Your Program Budgets
Update Program Budgets from Your Operating Budget
1. Design a budget for each of your programs. If you completed
Module 6: Developing Your Strategic Plan,
then you already have started basic budgets for each of your programs.
Update those budgets with results from completing this module
on program design and marketing. Consider expenses of advertising
and promotions, production, distribution, and customer service.
Also, consider any updates to expected revenues as a result of
any changes in your pricing policy and as a result of your sales
goals in your sales plan.
TRACKING OPEN ACTION ITEMS
Reminders About You
1. Are you exchanging feedback with others about what you’re
learning in this program? If not, you really should be thinking
a lot more seriously about this — adults learn by doing something
with new information and then exchanging feedback about it.
2. Are you sticking to your study schedule for this program?
3. Are you practicing your basic skills in management and leadership,
including in problem-solving and decision-making, planning and
4. Are you communicating throughout your organization by using
your skills in internal communications?
5. Are you managing yourself? How many hours a week are you
working? Are you noticing any signs of stress? If so, what are
you doing about it?
6. One of the ways you might be able to tell if you’re stressed
out and/or losing perspective might be whether you’re tracking
details or not. Are you using the action item list referenced
7. Are you reflecting on learnings from past modules and how they build on the learning
in this module? For example, are you seeing your organization from a systems view,
as explained in the module “Starting and Understanding Your Nonprofit?”
Reminders About Your Nonprofit
1. Now that you’ve given more thought to the design and marketing
of your programs, go back to your strategic plan and update the
plans about programs, staffing, and operating plans.
TRACKING OPEN ACTION ITEMS
1. One of the first indicators that an organization or a person
is struggling is that open action items are not tracked and reviewed.
(Open action items are required actions that have not yet been
completed.) Instead, people only see and react to the latest “fires”
in their workplaces or their lives. Whether open action items
are critical to addressing now or not, they should not entirely be
forgotten. Therefore, update and regularly review a list of open
action items (identified while proceeding through this program)
that includes listing each open action item, who is responsible
to complete it, when it should be completed, and any associated
comments. When updating the list, consider action items as identified
during discussions, learning activities, and assessments in this
module. Share and regularly review this action item list with
the appropriate peers, board, management, and employees in your
organization. You can use the following Action Item Planning List. (At that Web address,
a box might open, asking you which software application to open
2. If you have questions, consider posing them in the national,
free, online discussion group hr.com, which is attended
by many human resource and organization development experts.
(Learners in the nonprofit organization development
the program can return to the nonprofit organization development program.)
For the Category of Marketing:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been
selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.