#npsquadgoals Challenge #4: Become a Nonprofit Marketing Guru

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Nonprofit Squad Goals is a regular series of challenges to help you tackle your professional development goals in small, bite-sized pieces throughout the year. We’ll offer advice and give you a platform to network with other young nonprofit professionals who have committed to making 2016 the best year yet for their careers. You can join the challenge and share your journey by using the hashtag #npsquadgoals.

In our 2015 Young Nonprofit Professional survey, nearly 80% of you listed Marketing and Communications as one of your top most important quantifiable skills for professional development. Marketing and Communications is an expansive field encompassing brand management, sales, content creation, media relations, social media, analytics, Search Engine Optimization, advertising, and much more. It would be difficult to cover all of these in just a blog post, but we have a few ideas on how you can bolster your marketing skillset. We dare you to take action by joining our fourth challenge of the year: Become a Nonprofit Marketing Guru!

Developing strong marketing and communications skills is critical for any young professional, no matter what their specific job. The ability to clearly express yourself, to articulate your ideas and to persuade others will help you succeed in any role. If you don’t currently work in marketing or communications, you can frame this challenge around your personal brand! Think of yourself as a brand: what do you want your audience(s) to know about you? What unique messages do you want to deliver? Which technical skill can you build to help you in your career path?

By the end of August, challenge yourself to:

  1. Learn how to strategically plan for communications projects by using a project brief.
  2. Sharpen your creative writing skills by completing a writing prompt.
  3. Attend a class or workshop to learn one new technical skill.
  4. Share your victories with us by using the #npsquadgoals hashtag!

Need help getting started on your challenge? Here are some resources:

Learn how to strategically plan for communications projects by using a project brief.

We often think about marketing and communications in terms of outputs or products, such as flyers, tweets, and websites. However, these outputs should meet your project’s strategic goals. A project brief can help lay the foundation by creating the strategy. Project briefs outline a project’s objectives, key stakeholders, budget, deadlines, and audience personas to ensure that your product meets your project goals and that you are using the most appropriate methods to complete the task and measure its success.

Project briefs benefits include:

  • Allowing you to develop outputs that fit the project’s goals, audience, and budget instead of the other way around.
  • Making it easy for everyone involved in the project to get on the same page.
  • Helping fend off scope creep.

Download our sample project brief here and test it out on a project this summer! The project can be work-related or personal. If you don’t work in marketing or communications, complete the project brief with your personal project or your personal brand in mind!

Sharpen your creative writing skills by completing a writing prompt.

Now that you have a tool to help you think long-term about project deliverables, it’s time to tackle the messaging through writing. Effective marketing and communications requires strong writing skills. In this field, we take complex ideas and recast them to be accessible to multiple audiences. For example, this could mean repurposing a policy brief into an advocacy email that will inspire supporters to actively engage their representatives in a discussion about a specific cause. Oxfam America reported on a new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruling that would require oil and mining companies to be more transparent when reporting on government payments in their financial statements. With this piece, Oxfam was able to repurpose the content to create a Facebook post as well as a shareable image.

So what does it take to write compelling content? Practice, lots of practice. Choose and complete one of the free writing prompts from the below websites. When writing, consider your organization’s or personal brand’s voice and style.


Attend a class or workshop to learn one new technical skill.

Creative writing skills pair well with a technical skill like graphic design. Many nonprofits don’t have access to in-house design teams, web developers, or social media mavens, so having a working knowledge of a technical skill can add to the organization’s resources or your personal resume in a positive way.

For this challenge, attend one class, presentation, or workshop to learn one technical skill. Here are some places to start looking:

  • Graphic and web design: AIGA Boston, CreativeMornings Boston and General Assembly host free or low-cost in-person workshops and events.
  • Digital Communications (including Google Analytics and content marketing): Lynda.com’s digital marketing playlist.
  • Miscellaneous Skills: Follow the hashtags #nptech and #npcomm on Twitter to find other marketing and communications resources.

Take the #npsquadgoals challenge!

By the end of August, comment on this blog post or share a photo on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram using the #npsquadgoals hashtag:

  • Send us a victory selfie with your completed project brief.
  • Comment on our blog post telling us which writing prompt you chose to tackle.
  • Share an update on your favorite social media platform after completing an online or in person workshop or course.

We’ve loved seeing you tackle the #npsquadgoals challenges so far and can’t wait to cheer you on for this one! If you haven't taken them already, there's still time:


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