Let’s Work Together – The Importance of a Good Relationship Between Marketing and Development

If your organization has separate marketing and development departments, how well do you work together?  Do you even work together, or do you get territorial about responsibilities?

Remember, it’s not a competition between departments. There is a huge amount of overlap between fundraising and marketing. You are all working for the same mission. If you distance yourself from each other, what is popularly known as siloing, you are not doing what’s best for your organization.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Everyone in your organization has a role in marketing
All staff, board members, and volunteers are brand ambassadors for your organization.  You should have a consistent set of messages that you use in all your materials.  If you don’t, here’s some information about creating a message platform.  Make Your Messages Clear and Consistent 

Everyone should have an elevator pitch and be prepared to share your organization’s messages.

Everyone in your organization has a role in fundraising
Fundraising is the lifeblood of all nonprofit organizations.  Creating a culture of philanthropy Building a culture of philanthropy in your organization lets everyone know the importance of fundraising. 

Your role as an ambassador includes fundraising as well.  Depending on the size of the organization, sometimes it can be all hands on deck during annual appeal time as everyone pitches in to get it out.  Staff might be asked to send annual appeal letters to family and friends, as well as invite them to events.

There may be times when the two departments might clash.  Here it’s important to go beyond what is development’s responsibility and what is marketing’s responsibility, and remember you are all working on behalf of your mission. 

I like this quote from donor communications expert Tom Ahern – “The heads of development and marketing have to accept that they are oxen pulling the same wagon, a wagon labeled ‘increasing community support’.”

You need clear and consistent messages
As I mentioned before, your organization needs consistent messages in all materials, fundraising and others.  Your messages also need to be conversational and easy to understand – no jargon. 

There may be a case when someone in marketing makes edits to your fundraising letter so that it includes your organization’s messaging and that it is easily understood by your donor. It’s important not to take this personally.  It’s not your writing, it’s your organization’s.  Your fundraising letter needs to captivate your donors.

You need control of your communication
A large part of fundraising is building relationships with donors and one way to do that is to share success stories and updates by email, social media, and on your website.

Marketing and development should work together on an editorial calendar that includes fundraising campaigns and events, along with newsletter submissions and other updates.  You can’t have people sending out three different messages one day and then not communicate again for three weeks.

In many organizations one person is in charge of controlling the flow of communication that goes through the channels listed above and often that is someone in marketing.  That doesn’t mean that someone in development can’t send out fundraising messages, but you need coordination so that you are sending out the right amount of messages.  This person also needs to know how use the platforms (especially the email template) so everything you send out has a consistent look.

Development needs understand that most communication goes through marketing.  Marketing needs to understand that one of the main purposes of the newsletter and other updates is to communicate with donors and potential donors.  See how the two departments are so interconnected?

The links below provide more insight to the importance of a good relationship between development and marketing. One key is support from leadership.

How is the relationship in your organization?

In my next post I’ll write about the importance of a good relationship with the program department.

One thought on “Let’s Work Together – The Importance of a Good Relationship Between Marketing and Development

  1. If one really is an oxen pulling the same wagon, there should be no tire tracks on one's head from being repeatedly thrown under the proverbial bus. One of the principle reasons for failure of a person to become a good working ox, is that they enter the barnyard crowing like a rooster, and don't bother to find out which wheels they really don't have to reinvent in order to look like employee of the year.


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