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November 23, 2020
Nonprofits, Unlike For-Profits, Cut Marketing Due to COVID-19
Dollar Cut by Scissors

July 24, 2020 — Despite a chorus of exhortations in recent years that nonprofit need to adopt more of the marketing tactics that for-profit organizations regularly employ, nonprofits by a wide margin have decreased their marketing spending, compared to for-profits, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Seventy percent of nonprofits reported decreased marketing spending due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Merkle Company, which surveyed 400 marketers last month.

Only 17% of nonprofits reported boosting marketing spending, while 13% said they are maintaining marketing spending at previous levels.

In contrast, 70% of health care marketers reported boosting marketing spending, as did insurance (60%), retail (59%), and travel, media and entertainment (53%)companies.

When asked to select the top three tactical priorities during the pandemic, respondents overall cited trying new marketing technologies or features (50%), becoming more consumer centric in marketing messaging (45%), and developing new transaction fulfillment capabilities (42%) as their top priorities.

"With events revenue being wiped out, we’re seeing many large nonprofits trying to balance the need for their programming, staff, and marketing budgets," noted Colin Stewart, senior vice president for nonprofits at Merkle. "The smart nonprofits are focusing their efforts on localized, relevant messaging and getting more efficient in their marketing spend by focusing on the individuals who can deliver the highest ROI."

Overall, 54% of all survey respondents said they rate the significance of communicating with customers as "significantly more important" during the pandemic; 34% rated it as "a little more important".

Of those investing more in marketing, site/mobile chat, mobile app functionality, email, and video were the channels in which at least 50% of survey respondents reported boosting spending.

When asked to select their top pain points since the pandemic, 46% of marketers chose “taking too long to make a marketing decision,” 43% cited “data being in too many places to be useful,” and 38% said “we don’t leverage the data we have,” Merkle reported.

Should they face future stay-at-home orders, about 80% of respondents said they are better positioned to respond, Merkel said.

In addition, marketers reported feeling better prepared from a technology perspective, with 41% responding they are “significantly better” prepared, while 51% of marketers felt they were “a little better” prepared from a strategic perspective.

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