The strategic marketing planning process, the way we’ve known it thus far, may be becoming inadequate for nonprofits. Any marketer will tell you that to stay contemporary with customers, you can’t just react to change. You must anticipate change.
The Questions You Should be Asking
For example, take any strategic marketing plan and review the 3- to 5-year projections. To what extent does the plan truly consider the changing culture, environment, and marketplace that surround the organization?
A typical strategic goal of an organization might be to double the programs and constituents served in a 3-year time frame. But at the pace of change we face today, it’s appropriate to think even bigger and ask questions such as:
- Will our programs still be fresh, viable, and of interest in three years?
- Is there a chance that a cure or solution will be found in three years?
- Will our population want or need these programs in three years?
- Can we imagine the unimaginable, if only to build a better plan?
A Strategic Marketing Plan Will Help as the Shift Occurs
If these dramatic shifts in the marketplace necessitate a change in our strategic marketing planning process and force us to ask new questions, they also require us to look at our donors in a new light.
Today more than ever, it’s of the utmost importance to recognize the donor’s entire family—not just them as an individual.
Marketers are extremely in tune with generational differences as we move from baby boomers to Generation X, and now on to a new generation of millennials. As we evaluate our strategic marketing plans, it’s critical to assess how our shifting constituents will affect our message, as well as our work. It’s also important to understand how to reach and affect these different generations as the shift occurs.
Millennials Poised to be the Most Philanthropic Generation
For example, marketers are highly aware that millennials are proving to be a very altruistic and philanthropic generation.
According to the Case Foundation’s 2015 Millennial Impact Report, in 2014, 84% of millennial employees gave to charity, and in 2018, the Next Generation of American Giving reported that millennials donate an average of $481 each year.
This is impressive, given that millennials earn less than their counterparts did. Experts predict that this behavior combined with the fact that people donate more as they get older means that millennials will become the most generous generation in history.
A New Generation Means a New Strategic Marketing Plan
Perhaps it’s time to consider developing a marketing communication plan that acknowledges your top donors, their children, and their grandchildren—while recognizing the distinct difference between the generations.
No one can predict the future. But as a nonprofit, it’s important to be as aware as possible of the nuances of the different generations and how your work will be affected by them. It could mean the difference in all the work you’ve put forth so far.
Strategic marketing plans in most organizations tend to be nearsighted—seen from the inside out rather than from the outside in. It’s the job of a good marketer to understand the behaviors of these different age groups and to help nonprofits develop a strategic marketing plan. The more you know, the better you will anticipate and be able to adapt in order to meet the needs of your constituents today, and in the future.