Fundraising & Marketing Departments—You Need Each Other

by | Oct 19, 2016

The Challenge, The Problem, The Solution

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked with a handful of nonprofits and healthcare systems on a variety of fundraising and marketing initiatives. One of the things I’ve noticed is how difficult it is to get the fundraising and marketing departments to work together to achieve common goals. I’ve observed this problem as both an employee of the organization and as an agency employee coming into an organization.

Sometimes it feels like a middle school dance, with the boys on one side of the room and the girls on the other. Other times, it feels like a deli counter in Brooklyn with everyone yelling out the same orders on top of one another.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that everyone has the same goals—“tell compelling stories,” “increase revenue,” “raise brand awareness,” “drive traffic,” etc.—but for some reason, both departments operate in silos, often duplicating efforts. Kind of like two blindfolded kids standing side-by-side swinging bats at the same piñata. Someone is going to lose an eye!

So, let’s take off the blindfolds and figure out how we can work together intelligently to achieve common goals (FYI: fundraising and marketing are really the same thing anyway). Let’s look at one of the four goals I mentioned earlier: tell compelling stories.

This goal is probably an organization-wide initiative and requires both organization resources and personnel to achieve it. By working together, fundraisers and marketers can achieve this goal (and more), and all it takes is a simple five-phase approach.

Let’s Get Started

1. Plan

If you’re looking for a compelling story, start with the fundraising department. This team has direct access to grateful patients because all donations flow through their department. But, it’s the marketing department who knows which grateful patient story works where and how to conduct patient interviews and craft stories. Fundraisers should bring their leads to the table and work with the marketers to categorize each lead and identify a clear plan for moving forward.

2. Create

Creating a compelling story is where both the fundraiser and the marketer have to collaborate to get the most out of their shared story. Fundraisers know their donor audience, and marketers know the media and consumer behavior. Sit down together to segment your audiences and identify what marketing channels make the most sense for each audience and come up with a plan to repackage each story so it speaks to each audience, works well within the identified marketing channel, and has a long shelf life.

3. Deploy

If you’re like me, and I know you are, you love metrics. Your deployment plan must include an ROI strategy—a way to measure whether or not your story is working with each audience. Fundraisers and marketers know their department’s system capabilities, and marketers know what metrics are possible within each marketing channel and benchmarks for success. Define your ROI goals and identify who is responsible for reporting on each metric before you deploy.

4. Evaluate

Once your story is out in the world, schedule regular check-in meetings so you can report on your assigned metrics and discuss how the story is doing in the marketplace.

5. Evolve

Marketers will be able to compare your metrics to benchmarks for success and determine any necessary tweaks that could improve the story’s performance. And, together, you’ll be able to evolve and repackage the story so you continue to see results for years to come.


Ready to bring the teams together? We can help. If you need a project manager to lead a project, proofreading, graphic design, web development, or direct mail and analytics, we’re your one-stop-shop for all things fundraising and marketing. Give us a call at 800-669-1664 or email us to get started!
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