Fractional CMO

Fractional CMO for Nonprofit Organizations: Unlocking Your Marketing Potential

As with nearly all other aspects of nonprofit growth and success, nonprofit marketing is essential for amplifying your mission and increasing your impact. 

Despite its importance, though, strategic marketing efforts in nonprofit organizations often end up scattered, overlooked, under-resourced, or forgotten altogether. 

In my experience, nonprofit teams can often feel reluctant to invest too much in their marketing efforts because the term “marketing” gets a bad rap. When values-centered mission-driven folks think of marketing, they tend to think:

  • It’s slimy
  • It’s manipulative
  • It feels disingenuous
  • It is better left to big corporations and private companies who think of $$ as their only bottom line

While pieces of this can be true, what many nonprofit leaders don’t realize is that there is a way to “do” marketing that is actually none of those things.

In a perfect world, people would line up in droves to support your organization  simply because they believe in your cause. But the reality is that they might not know you exist. There are 1.3 million nonprofit organizations in the United States alone, and each one is vying for your stakeholders attention just as you are. 

Good, solid, conscientious marketing for nonprofits is not so much about manipulating people into donating to your cause or signing up for your services, but rather about putting yourself out there so they can find you and engage with your work in the first place.

If you’re working in sustainability, for example, how do you expand your audience of earth-loving conscious consumers who actively engage with your work? Great marketing.

If you’re a purpose driven business that’s guided by your values rather than solely profits, how do you attract clients who understand that and care about the same things you do? Great marketing!

There is in fact a way to implement comprehensive marketing strategies that is not only ethical, but helps bring the right people—the ones who resonate with your impact and believe in your work—right to your front door.

The best way to do that? Find someone with the right expertise who is dedicated to your organization’s big-picture marketing strategy, planning, and implementation. In other words, a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a part-time, senior marketing executive who manages and leads your organization’s marketing team and strategy to grow your mission and activate your fundraising.

A fractional CMO does not work as a full-time staff member, but rather a contracted, part-time leadership resource that you can tap into as needed to support short-term or long-term projects.

A fractional CMO serves many purposes, but ultimately manages your marketing team and marketing strategy in a single, unified, effective direction utilizing proven marketing tactics and ethical, effective storytelling to increase your impact. 

Does my Nonprofit Need a Fractional CMO?

Building a marketing team or giving your marketing efforts a refresh can feel daunting. Many nonprofit organizations already have a marketing plan in place, but find that their implementation is scattered or that they are not getting the results they hoped for

These situations may be perfect opportunities to begin working with a fractional CMO to hone in your efforts and take a long clear look at your marketing strategy moving forward.

Working with a fractional CMO might be for you if:

  • You have a marketing plan in place, but it doesn’t seem to be as effective as you hoped it would
  • You have an upcoming launch of a significant campaign or initiative and need guidance
  • Your leadership team—Executive Director, Board Members, or other senior leaders—are currently managing your marketing efforts
  • You don’t have the budget to hire a full time CMO
  • You’re trying all kinds of different marketing tactics to see what sticks, but nothing seems to be working
  • You have a marketing team that’s great at what they do, but don’t have anyone leading or mentoring them
  • You’re amidst a leadership transition and need to temporarily fill responsibilities until you find the right staff member for the role
  • Your current marketing team has a gap in specific skills such as email marketing, branding, or analytics, and you need high-level expertise or training to fill the gaps

Whether you have a small team who is already working in overdrive, your executive team is taking on the work of strategic marketing, or you are throwing  anything and everything you can at the wall and hoping it sticks, a fractional CMO can offer training, strategy, direction, and leadership to make sure your marketing efforts are focused and effective for your organization.

Fractional CMO vs. Full-Time CMO

Why Hire a fractional CMO instead of a full-time Chief Marketing Officer? In all honesty, a full-time CMO is often overkill for many nonprofit organizations. Especially if they have local or regional reach, or already have a small but mighty marketing team.

Hiring a full time CMO can be a great fit for larger organizations with broad reach and numerous campaigns and efforts. For many small to midsize nonprofits, justifying the salary of a full-time senior level marketing officer can be tough to do.

A fractional CMO offers nearly all of the same skills and benefits as a full-time salaried hire, but at a fraction of the cost. 

Though they are part-time and sometimes temporary, a fractional CMO offers senior level marketing expertise that comes with deep and experienced strategic direction. A fractional CMO offers an external view of your organization, bringing expertise from a number of different organizations and efforts. This means that they can better envision the “big picture” of your marketing efforts amidst both your internal and external landscapes.

Additionally, a fractional CMO can fit your needs at any given time. If what you’re looking for is a strategic consultant for a short-term launch or campaign, they’re there! If you really need more long-term management and support of your marketing team, they are a great fit as well.

No matter your need, a fractional CMO can help your organization manage your internal resources, including your staff, to build your capacity and increase your impact. 

Fractional CMO vs. Marketing Agency

And in contrast to  a one-off freelancer or marketing agency, a fractional CMO holds ownership and responsibility over specific results of their work. While an agency may complete projects and hand them off, a fractional CMO remains a strategic partner throughout the entire process. This means they stick around for the results to evaluate what is and isn’t working, and then use the feedback to adjust and continue moving forward.

Overall, a fractional CMO can offer expert guidance and strategic direction for your organization’s marketing efforts at a fraction of the cost of a full time hire.

Learn More About Working with a Fractional CMO

Wayward Kind is a digital marketing collective built on the belief that effective marketing is rooted in human connection. We help ordinary nonprofits organizations have extraordinary conversations with their stakeholders. 

Working with Wayward Kind in a fractional CMO capacity can help your organization get clear on your strategic marketing direction, fine tune your implementation efforts, and grow your impact.

If you’d like to learn more about working with a fractional CMO to get strategic guidance that helps you reach your goals at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone full-time, reach out