In-House vs Outsource

52 Managing Outsourced Operations

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Importance of Outsourced Operations for NPOs

As mentioned in prior pages, outsourcing refers to the delegation of key management areas to outside vendors, contractors or suppliers, usually on a relatively long-term basis, with the expectation of improving quality, strengthening management effectiveness, and perhaps lowering costs. Outsourcing in the nonprofit community differs slightly than in the business sector in that the “key objective” of outsourcing is to become a more effective organization – not simply to save money. For NPOs specifically, a “back-office” functional area that is usually outsourced is that of marketing and communications services, perhaps from a public relations agency or a marketing firm. This is because the success of NPOs achieving their missions rely heavily on strategic communications planning and execution, which requires branding, creation of communication materials (to donors, the media and volunteers for example), and website or special event promotion.

Leverage Tailor-Made Solutions

When you hire social media marketing agencies or digital marketing experts you have the flexibility to use them in a way that best suits the style of your organization. You can get Services tailor-made to specifically fulfill your requirements. There may be times in a year when you run multiple campaigns and require several resources and other times when you don’t. When you outsource these internet marketing and SEO activities, you don’t have to bear the cost of maintaining multiple resources all-round the year.

Tips for Successful Outsourced Operations

Since outsourcing means working with external vendors, contractors, and suppliers, managing the relationship NPOs have with these groups is extremely important. It can be compared to customer relationship management, which is the way an NPO would manage its relationship with its own audiences. Just as an NPO needs to develop relationships with its audience and stakeholders, it also needs to foster relationships with its vendors, contractors, and suppliers. The desired outcome is a win-win relationship.

Key Characteristics for Successful Outsourced Operations

The following characteristics should exist between the NPO and the public relations, communications and/or marketing firm that will be outsourced:

  • Recognition of mutual interdependence
  • High level of trust between the organizations
  • High-level frequency of both formal and informal communications
  • Co-operative attitudes
  • Mutual benefits
  • Shared risks
  • Problem-solving, ‘win-win’ negotiating styles with an emphasis on managing total costs
  • Long-term partnership arrangements
  • Open sharing of information by multi-functional teams

Fostering Effective Relationships with Outsourced Partners

An NPOs relationship with its outsourced partner will be the most effective if they establish a clear and strategic partnership with them.

Briefing Opportunity to Kick-off the Outsourced Operations

A ‘briefing’ provides the opportunity to seriously kick-off the discussions required for an NPO to establish what its outsourced partnership will look like. A few ways to approach the briefing are to:

  • Notify the outsourced partner about the importance of meeting together (online, over the phone, or in-person) to talk through the requirements and expectations they must meet, to help the NPO achieve its mission.
  • Establish the communication method that will be used between the NPO and the outsourced partner (i.e. via phone, email, online virtual conference tool, and mail);
  • Create an open environment that allows the outsourced partner to freely ask questions and propose their ideas.

To conduct the above, an NPO can consider using a briefing template, such as Marke2ing’s sample marketing supplier brief to write down the objectives, timing, budget, specifications, and considerations.

Tracking and Evaluating

Throughout an NPO’s collaboration with its outsourced partner, it is good practice to keep track of how well the partners are meeting the expectations set at the beginning of the collaboration. There are several templates, such as those available in Microsoft Word templates or SmartSheets, that can provide some inspiration for how organizations can keep notable items organized in one place.


This page contains material taken from:

Mettler, T., & Rohner, P. (2009, October 1). Supplier Relationship Management. Retrieved from Scientific Electronic Library Online:

Micheline, N. J., Kling, R., & Intaher, A. M. (2013, July 9). Supplier Relationship Management. Retrieved from Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Managemen:

Khandwala, Dhwanil. (2017, February 14). 10 benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing activities 2017.


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An Open Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Copyright © by Andrea Niosi and KPU Marketing 4201 Class of Summer 2020 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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