Pro Tips | How to do a marketing self-audit – tips and traps

publication date: Jun 11, 2019
author/source: Lelia MacDonald

Every mid-size nonprofit has a quiet time when they can reflect and plan for next year. Here are some suggestions on how to audit the work of your own marketing department.

Why would you want to do a marketing audit?

• To prepare for your strategic planning review. The results from the audit will identify SWOTs and action plans

• To select marketing metrics to present to your Board.

Select a project manager

The self-audit was written for anyone with a business degree – you need to be familiar with the “case study” approach to learning.

Select an employee who understands your entire organization, is comfortable crunching numbers and has an open mind. Pick from anywhere in your organization. Not necessarily from your Fundraising department (who may have vested interests in the results). Nor from your Marketing department (who may be more creative than analytical). Consider an up-and-coming employee who deserves an introduction to senior management.

Other options:

• Ask a board member on your Fundraising Committee

MAS - pro bono consultants available by Skype. We can coach your project manager or be your project manager.

Free up staff time

Expect the project manager to take 20 hours over the course of 8 weeks for meetings and writing the final report. Monitor your project manager’s time. It is enticing to spend too much time on the self-audit; stop when they reach a point where more information will not alter a decision.

You will also need to free up time with marketing staff, the ED and up to 20 hours from your database person. The self-audit suggest new templates for reporting your results. You will be looking at your results in a new way and you may not have all the data. Treat this year as a trial run. Set up procedures to track more thoroughly, so next year’s reports will be more accurate.

Expect resistance

Find a way to protect your project manager from employees who will create resistance:

• long term employees who have done marketing and fundraising in the past

• senior level fundraisers who may feel threatened by making their results more transparent

• employees who are motivated by your cause and resist attempts at a business approach

Be careful who you show the results to. It is possible that the reports can identify poor performing employees.

The hardest part is assigning yourself a score for each question

Your role is to judge process, not content. The questions are phrased to estimate the quality and quantity of time staff have spent on topics. It is not your role to debate individual points.

It is best to show a range of ratings. Even the best performing nonprofits have room for improvement. Even the worst performing nonprofits need something to feel good about. Most questions require a judgment about your own nonprofit, not a comparison with others. If you feel uncomfortable, reach a group consensus.

MAS has published a free 21-page white paper that leads you through the 15 questions you need to ask yourself.

Lelia MacDonald is a Volunteer Consultant with MAS - a pro bono management consulting charity. For 25 years, the retired professionals at MAS have helped over 1,300 nonprofits and charities become better at governance, strategy, HR, marketing and fundraising. Contact MAS today.

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