The right way to integrate your marketing and fundraising

Blame the donors. They’ve made it so the way nonprofits are often organized has gone from inefficient to catastrophic.

Donors are crossing the neat boundaries that exist in organizations. Most often, it goes like this:

The Development department sends out direct mail. A potential donor receives it. She then goes online to see for herself whether she wants to give. Oh dear — she’s just crossed into the marketing department’s turf.

The problem with that is the direct mail, created in the real world of direct response, looks and feels one way. The website, created in the fantasy world of marketing, looks and feels completely different.

The direct mail was about straightforward solutions to serious problems. It was urgent, concrete, and clear. With rough, simple, old-fashioned design. But the website is all abstract brand promises. High-flown claims of greatness, modern hard-to-read design. Happy photos that depict a world without any particular needs or problems.

The donor might conclude she’s in the wrong place, that the website she’s at is not the same organization as the direct mail that sent her there. Or she might decide the organization is duplicitous, saying one thing in one place and another thing in another place (which is precisely correct, unfortunately).

See the problem?

And that’s where we come to a slightly scary, truly radical, but very common-sense proposal from the Donor-Central blog, at Deconstruction – Org Moves Part III:

Development needs to lead all of an organization’s communications. Yes, that means that PR, web and marketing all need to fall under the control of development.

Why the development department? Because they’re the ones paying attention to actual donor behavior. I’m not talking about the useless blather that comes from focus groups, but real-life actual, measureable behavior of donors. Whatever is happening in direct response — assuming it’s moderately competent and regularly testing — is what actually works. What the marketing and brand people and their consultants come up with is what should work.

Two different things.

Marketing departments that operate in the real world (there are some — I’ve met them!) are a wonderful thing. They bring all kinds of great tools to the fundraising work-party.

Here’s how to get a marketing department like that: Put them in the development department.


Comments

2 responses to “The right way to integrate your marketing and fundraising”

  1. Very insightful post. It’s true: developing and marketing teams seem to operate on mostly different agendas with occasionally opposite goals.
    However, it’s not Marketers’ fault, it’s just the way they’re trained to operate in for profit companies. On the other hand, the audience that nonprofits cater to have one clear goal in mind. I suspect that because, in a sense, they’re looking to *give away* rather than to receive, donors are more down-to-earth — unlike consumers that are waiting to be charmed by vendors. Marketing has to learn this important difference!
    Alyce
    http://DonationTalk.com
    http://DonationTo.com

  2. Very insightful post. It’s true: developing and marketing teams seem to operate on mostly different agendas with occasionally opposite goals.
    However, it’s not Marketers’ fault, it’s just the way they’re trained to operate in for profit companies. On the other hand, the audience that nonprofits cater to have one clear goal in mind. I suspect that because, in a sense, they’re looking to *give away* rather than to receive, donors are more down-to-earth — unlike consumers that are waiting to be charmed by vendors. Marketing has to learn this important difference!
    Alyce
    http://DonationTalk.com
    http://DonationTo.com

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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