As I’ve become more involved in development issues, I joined the Association of Fundraising Professionals this year. I recently received their Advancing Philanthropy bimonthly magazine which featured an article on how fundraising and marketing staff can work together. Quoting a recent study which examined the relationship of marketing to other NPO departments, not working together can “lead to conflicts that substantially affect a nonprofit’s performance.” Yet when constituents interact with a nonprofit, “they’re dealing with the organization as a whole.”
Instead, it is suggested that brand can act as a common thread that unites separate departments. “Brand is everything you do, everything you are, everything you say. Making sure that they are all consistent across different functions is essential.” While I’ve never seen marketing and fundraising merged into a separate department, it does seem to make sense since “the roles that marketing and fundraising play in crafting a distinctive brand is complimentary,” according to Network for Good‘s CEO Bill Strahmann.
Brand is also critical in differentiating your organization from others that represent the same cause. Jo Sullivan, who manages both development and communications at the ASPCA, has done especially well in this area. The ASPCA is also represented on Facebook and MySpace. (Some organizations are still debating whether or not to devote resources to social networking sites.)
How do you get NPO departments to work together and not in different directions? At my current organization, we’ve occasionally had lunch meeting where one department will highlight projects it is working on; judging by comments from other attendees, it’s clear that not everyone is on the same page. Understanding the complementary objectives of fundraising and marketing is a vital step towards establishing a consistent image to our constituents.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s be grateful for what we have every day of our lives.