ne of the most frustrating feelings is wanting to elevate the marketing at your nonprofit, but you receive pushback from your boss or colleagues. While this situation is unfortunate, it is not impossible to navigate and come out on the other side. Before you get upset about incorporating changes or lack thereof, make sure to do some reflection, observing, but most importantly, create a strategy.
Introducing change can cause one of two reactions. Either everyone is all for change, or others cringe at the thought of something potentially disrupting their day-to-day actions.
Before you begin proposing any changes or ideas, get a feel for the energy around the workspace. Does it seem like others embrace change readily or is there a little hesitation? When you are in meetings, observe the flow when discussing something new. Do others jump on board and don't need an explanation, or do they need someone to walk them through step-by-step? This observation will help you determine how thorough you need to be when introducing your idea.
After you 'get a feel' around the organization, schedule one-on-one meetings with trusted colleagues or individuals. Explain that there is an idea you would like to integrate into the marketing, but you are not quite sure how it will be received. Discuss with your trusted colleague or individual what you would like to propose. Make it a point to emphasize how it could benefit the organization and ask if they have questions. More than likely, any questions you receive in your one-on-one meetings will come up again when you introduce your idea to the organization. Having these meetings creates a team around you when presenting your plan. The more voices supporting and rallying around you, the better.
Here is the fun part: research. Although it would be wonderful if everyone jumped on your bandwagon without any reservation, that likely is not going to be the case. Research other organizations who are using the same ideas that you would like to propose. Take note of growth, case studies, and potential challenges the organization had. The information you find is evidence you can use to support your idea. In fact, if you could chat with someone from another organization via phone or email, that would be even better. By talking, you can get a deeper understanding of the information you found.
So far you have talked with your colleagues, obtained a feel for change around your organization, and have done your research. It is now an excellent opportunity to create a plan/proposal. This document will outline the proposed changes you recommend. The paper should include critical components such as timeline, staff involved, budget, key performance indicators, benefits to the organization, and frequently asked questions. Prepare yourself for additional pushback by anticipating further questions.
Following the preparation of your plan/proposal, create a date for presenting your plan. Depending on your organization, consider what would be the most effective and receptive way to show your ideas. You may want to present to a smaller group first such as your supervisor and teammates, then your department, ending with your executive leadership team, or the entire organization.
Now that you have presented your ideas, one of two things could happen. Either you get a 'yes' or a 'no.' If you received a yes, begin implementing your ideas and document your processes. This process does not mean to start a journal of your exact steps, but more so what has been working well, challenges you encounter, milestones that you achieve, and specific metrics. If you received a no, pat yourself on the back. Proposing ideas is not easy, and you should be proud of yourself for doing something that many others are afraid to do. Schedule a follow-up meeting with key staff and ask them why they think the idea was not accepted. Everyone will offer a different perspective and may include insights such as, the readiness of the organization to receive a new idea, budget, and staff. Next time you decide to propose a plan, you will be able to take the feedback from others into consideration.
Aleshia Patterson is the Editor-in-Chief of Nonprofit Marketing Magazine. She has served in the nonprofit sector for almost a decade. She currently works as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for a local nonprofit in Saint Louis, MO. In her spare time, Aleshia loves to travel, binge watch Netflix, and go on Office Depot excursions.