I work with lots of nonprofit organizations. At last count, I determined that I’ve worked on nearly 200 campaigns over the last twenty-two years as a fundraising consultant. In that time, I see one mistake repeated over and over by most of the nonprofits I work with: there always seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the communications/marketing arm of the organization and the fundraising/development arm of the organization. Now, for small nonprofits, this often isn’t a problem. In those instances, fundraising and marketing are often done by the same person….and this is a good thing! Marketing messages and fundraising messages are seamless in these organizations….if done correctly, they tend to compliment each other.
Mid-sized and larger organizations should consider taking a page out of the small organization playbook by finding a way to marry up communications/marketing and fundraising/development. After all, for most organizations, the most important element of their communication strategy should be retaining donors and winning new supporters. Donors supply the “gas in the engine” for your mission. Without them, programs go away, staff is cut, and mission is compromised. You maximize your ability to motivate gifting when when all of your marketing messages are first run through the prism of fundraising to make sure that messaging appeals to donors, communicates key ideas that donors actually care about, and conveys stories that tend to inspire donor action.
For mid-sized and larger nonprofits, consider melding your marketing/communications office into a new “advancement” office. Ideally, all marketing and fundraising activities could report up to one leader who can ensure that communication efforts support the fundraising activities and vice versa. This is likely your best bet for ensuring that all organizational messaging accomplishes the goal of appealing to current and future donors.