What should nonprofit marcom people know?

If a nonprofit is large enough, it often has two different but related departments: One that does fundraising and another that does marketing and communications, or MarCom.

There’s a logical reason for this bifurcation. Fundraising is about motivating people to donate, mainly through direct-response channels. Marcom is about creating the general impression that the organization is good, and for those that sell things (like services or tickets), they do actual classic marketing and advertising.

These are distinct activities, so having both can make a lot of sense.

It also causes a lot of problems: Wasted money, ineffective fundraising, and pointless internal conflict.

As the Veritus Group Blog points out at The Marketing Communications Dilemma, the problem typically stems from radically different cultures and mindsets of the two groups.

The way to make sure both groups are pulling in the same direction, Marcom people should be conversant (if not expert) in the goals, methods, and mindset of fundraising. They recommend asking these questions about potential marcom professionals:

  • Are they donor-driven?
  • Do they understand that fundraising messaging is about addressing a societal problem, and therefore all copy and images need to support that goal?
  • Do they understand that communication vehicles, including the website and social media, should be biased towards presenting societal problems to solve, and not how great the organization is?
  • Do they understand and accept that every societal problem statement to the general public should be an opportunity to acquire a donor, and that functional provisions need to be made to make that happen?
  • Do they understand and accept that every communication piece, electronic or printed, is an opportunity to come on board as a new donor, or to give, if it’s an existing donor? This means that there are opportunities to give in every piece, some soft?
  • Do they understand the importance of continually telling the donor, via MarCom materials, that their giving is making a difference?

A marcom person who gets the above will be invaluable to the organization. One who doesn’t get it, will be a drag on future progress.


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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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