The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

3 Ways to Shrink Your Communications-Fundraising Divide

There’s strong evidence that integrating communications and fundraising into a single team is a real success factor. For many organizations, that shift is far, far away or absolutely out of the question. Even so, you can take small steps to shake up your silos and build productive partnerships.

Try any or all of these three approaches to bring your communications and fundraising teams closer together—and boost results.

  1. Donors first! Map out how and when your organization touches an individual in each of your target audiences or segments.

It’s human nature to ignore a problem until it’s in your face. This technique will highlight what’s really going on.

Partner up a fundraiser and a communicator to visually document touchpoints within a week or month for individuals representative of your priority audiences. Use your personas if you’ve already developed them. Map the campaign, message, format, channel, call to action, and timing details for each touchpoint.

You’ll likely uncover some days when an individual receives multiple touches with conflicting messages—aka chaos!

Nothing is a stronger motivator for coordinating messages and missiles.

Bonus: Mapping supporter touchpoints showcases everyone who has played a role in spurring a donation or other desired action. Typically, credit is given only to the creator of the last interaction, overlooking many of the contributors who move supporters to act.

  1. Identify what’s working—from each “side”—and do more of that.

Ask your communications team to identify the fundraising team’s three most effective approaches and to integrate those techniques into their own work—and vice versa.

While you’re at it, ask each team to identify what the other is doing that isn’t working. Try this: Ask each team to give the other one a “free pass” to make a single change to their work, without protest or arguments, for a week. If your marketing director can make only one change to a fundraiser’s direct-mail letter, what will it be? And what single change will the development director make to the marketer’s Facebook post?

This practice enables each team to focus on what is truly most important to them, gives each team some level of control, and encourages both to better understand each other without arguing over the merits of the requested change.

P.S. I learned this method from my favorite transformative change experts, Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath. The Heaths advocate this underused technique as the most reliable pathway to positive change.

  1. Co-create messaging for a single campaign.

Select a time-limited campaign that’s related to both teams’ goals. Possible focal points include a significant organizational anniversary, an exceptional opportunity to work with a celebrity, a new program launch, or a change in strategy.

Next, task a few communications and development staff members to fully collaborate in creating the campaign messages. This is another useful way each team can learn what’s happening behind the scenes on the “other team” and understand their point of view.

Ask collaborators to document the process, especially stumbling blocks, so collaboration will go smoother next time. Then, when the messages are complete, sit down with both teams to discuss the process and the product.

Ask the folks who worked together on this campaign to share the high points and the pain of the process, as well as the unexpected benefits for the end product (the messages). Brainstorm recommendations for shifts in each team’s creative, review, and approval process. Then, keep your eyes open for the next co-creation opportunity.

Tiny wins like these are the most realistic way I know to shift the status quo. I dare you to experiment with one of these techniques. Let me know how it goes!

From Network for Good: Nancy is spot on with her recommendations for communication and fundraising teams. If you can’t implement Nancy’s ideas for tracking donor touchpoints, it’s time to invest in a smarter way to manage your donors. A donor management system can help you keep better track of all your donor information, communication, and more. Talk to a Network for Good rep today and we can help you get started.

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About This Blog

Liz Ragland
Senior Associate, Marketing and Content

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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