New research illuminates path to doing better
Take it from our peers in the field: Most communications and development teams aren’t communicating, cooperating, or collaborating with each other. Team goals are often quite different, with the two departments sometimes working at cross-purposes, unknowingly sabotaging fundraising results. But there’s good news: This disconnect is fixable.
That’s the solid-gold takeaway from the 1,600 nonprofit communications and development staff members surveyed for the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. Of respondents, 47% work in organizations with annual budgets under $1 million, and 53% work in organizations with budgets over $1 million, with the largest cohort in organizations with budgets in the $1 million to $5 million range.
Donors come first, so goals and messages must be aligned.
It’s a given that effective campaigns are about our prospects and donors, not about our organizations. That means donor outreach has to be unified, even if your team is split by goals or roles and responsibilities.
There’s no way to provide that unified experience when communications and fundraising goals—and the activity that flows from them—are in silos. Instead, prospects and donors will be touched by a series of disconnected messages and visuals that don’t seem to come from the same organization. That’s a proven recipe for confusing the people whose help you need and deterring them from action.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens now in most organizations. According to the Trends Report (p. 5), communications and fundraising team goals diverge along these lines, with executive directors focusing somewhere in the middle:
- Development goals: Donor acquisition and retention
- Communications goals: Community engagement and brand awareness
Findings highlight five opportunities to do better.
The good news is that by syncing fundraising and communications teams’ focus and activities—or, better yet, fully integrating them—we can do so much better. The Trends Report highlights three key findings and five significant opportunities to do better for our donors, our organizations, and ourselves. Win-win-win.
- Fully integrated communications and fundraising teams are more effective than separate teams or one team managing the other.
- Integration boosts communications staff ownership of fundraising goals by 400% and fundraising staff ownership of community building and engagement goals by 200%. (p. 8)
- Opportunity 1: You’ll have more hands and skills on deck to boost engagement and donations.
- Opportunity 2: You’ll get a clearer, broader understanding of possibilities and plans for engagement and community building, so you can sync fundraising campaign content and distribution accordingly. As a result, you’ll be able to craft touchpoints that look and sound like they come from a single organization and ensure that distribution timing and channels are honed for greatest impact.
- Opportunity 3: You’ll reduce conflict, delays, and duplication of effort in content creation, review, and approval. That will save time and effort and boost employee ease.
- Communications and fundraising teams have equal status and authority within organizations. (p. 25)
- Opportunity 4: Team members will have more to gain and little to lose in moving toward more collaboration or full integration. That means a greater likelihood that leadership and teams in more organizations will be motivated to make this radical change—and succeed in doing so.
- Members of fully integrated communications and fundraising teams (working for a single manager) are significantly more satisfied with their jobs. (p. 25)
- Communications Trends Report findings correlate staff members owning both fundraising and community engagement goals with greater job satisfaction.
- Opportunity 5: Finally, a clear way to reduce the high turnover rate for fundraisers. The payoff is clear for you, your colleagues, your organization, and your beneficiaries.
Take a deep breath! Identifying a problem is the first step in fixing it. Then, use these five concrete opportunities, with supporting proof points, to start closing your communications-fundraising divide.
I’ll follow up with specific, doable steps to getting to a unified voice and a fully integrated communications and marketing team. Stay tuned!
Get more insights, talking points, and ways to do better in the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.