How to Ask Your Boss to Increase Your Communications Budget

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You’re dreading your next check-in with your boss because you haven’t knocked nearly as many things off your to-do list as you need to, and your email list and social media growth is at a standstill. You’re not hitting your KPIs, even though you know you have what it takes to make your nonprofit’s communications soar. 

If you’re a lone wolf nonprofit marketer, you’re likely struggling to show results. Yes, there are tools and hacks out there that will make your work easier, but let’s be honest: you need more people, you need more resources, and you need money for social media ads. Bottom line, you need a bigger communications budget.

I’m a big believer that nonprofits can and should invest in their communications department. I’m sure you are too; that’s why you chose this line of work. With some research, confidence, and commitment to grow your department, you can secure more resources and capacity to get the work done you sought out to do.

Time for a reality check

With so many free social media platforms and communications tools, many CEOs are stuck in their belief that communications goals can be reached organically. The truth is, social media algorithms increasingly favor family and friend posts over brands, not only to build trust with users, but to encourage businesses to advertise. There are plenty of trend reports and data available to make your point clear: social media management is not free. Have a heart-to-heart with your supervisor or CEO and bring them up-to-date on the reality of digital marketing today. 

For a start, read through Buffer and Social Chain’s 2019 State of Social Report, Hootesuite’s 2019 Digital Global Digital Overview, and Social Media Examiner’s 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Show what could be

Find case studies and examples of what you could bring to the table if you had more staff, training, better communications software and tools, and ad dollars. My favorite place to go for campaign inspiration is the nonprofit shorty awards.  

Take time to quantify how you could increase donations, and public awareness of your mission and message. Paint a picture of how your department will better be able to support the entire organization with adequate resources. 

If you really want to get your boss’s attention, tie in how a better funded communications department will help the organization reach this year’s specific annual goals. 

Be prepared for the big ask

Make a detailed budget of needs and wants, and provide options. For example, if you can’t afford a new full-time staff, maybe you can hire part-time staff or freelancers. Be thorough and dream big.

Take a pause to secure funding

If your nonprofit truly doesn't have wiggle room to provide the funding you need to do your job well, find it yourself. Ask your supervisor to allow you to put your projects on hold for a month, or even a quarter, to allow you to find and apply for funding that can be used for your department. 

Stop dreaming of all you could do with a communications team, and make it happen. And when you do, shoot me an email so we can celebrate.

Go get ‘em!