graphics of project management toold: checklists, clicks, emails, and a calendar

Working with an Agency: Marketing Budget for Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofits of any size can work with agencies. Agencies provide support and expertise to help your nonprofit in a variety of ways. Media Cause understands nonprofits need to be nimble and think creatively. 

So, how do nonprofits and agencies work together to stay in line with the project budget? We’ve provided some easy tips below to help nonprofits and agencies align on the marketing budget for nonprofit organizations.


Determine if you need a fixed fee or a time-and-materials project

A fixed fee project is any scope of work billed at a set price within a determined amount of time. 

A time-and-materials project is any scope of work that is billed based on the hours of labor needed to complete the set deliverables within a certain time frame. 

Both have benefits—but which is right for you?

A fixed fee contract provides clear guidelines, assumptions, requirements, and deadlines. This works really well for nonprofits with fixed budgets that allow more predictability and transparency.

A time-and-materials contract focuses more on long-term dynamic projects where not all the details are known. This works well when a team needs more flexibility and collaboration.


Understand the timeline and process

Once the deliverables and scope (aka the project budget) are determined, it’s time to develop a timeline. 

If the agency has not set it up, request a kick-off call. This is an opportunity for the team to identify the work’s goals and objectives and guide what the teams are working towards. Leave time for questions and ensure everyone understands the correct points of contact, milestones and deadlines, work plan, and process at the end of the call. This is a crucial step to determine what is needed for the project to start and helps build a great partnership between teams. 

While a work plan lays out the tasks and timeline, the process establishes how to get it done in a timely and professional manner. Team members are encouraged to have agency and confidence in decision-making with a strong background of information and a specific direction with a process and work plan in place. 

And nothing can get done without the right people. Assign specific team members to specific roles and tasks. Who is responsible for review and approval? Who is responsible for execution? Defining roles and responsibilities will take a team far.


Additional Tips

Here are a few additional tips to help guide your agency relationship as the project progresses: 

1) Determining the best line of communication for the project status and budget is crucial. Set recurring meetings or email check-ins to share consistent updates on the deliverables.

2) Request a mid-month budget or pacing report. Check that against the status of the project and timeline. 

3) Request a monthly billing tracker that includes the estimated project budget by month. Add in the actual invoice amount each month to determine pacing. 

4) Ask questions. If more time is needed than expected for the project, consider what may be impacted or can be adjusted. 

5) Be flexible. Your relationship is a two-way street, and it’s important to understand the effect changes can have on timing and budgets. Be realistic and understanding when things may need to shift.


Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” 

Failing to plan has budget implications when working with an agency. We are here to collaborate on all needs and budgets. Learn more about how Media Cause can help make an impact in your work.


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