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The Tale of Two Silos: NPO Marketing and Sales

Posted on February 13, 2015 at 9:30 PM

Once upon a time there was a CMO of a large research institution who was asked to support the VP of Development on a campaign that would build donor and alumni engagement.

The CMO asked for a strategic plan, or at least the advancement goals for the year. They didn’t exist. The CMO asked for relevant data that would support campaign direction. It didn’t exist. The CMO wondered if resources were allocated for this campaign. They were not. The CMO requested to know how the success of the campaign would be measured. “Whether or not we raise money,” said the VP. When pressed for some creative direction that the VP and his leadership would consider on point, the answer given was, “I just saw the movie 'Avatar' last night. That’s what I want. I want Avatar!”

Unless a fairy godmother appeared, "Avatar" was not going to happen without reasonable resources leaving the campaign - and possibly the relationship - in jeopardy. Unfortunately, this tale is all too familiar within nonprofit communications/marketing departments (Marcom) and their development colleagues. Marketing and “sales” have long ago bifurcated their approach to achieving results. But with a mutual understanding of how the two areas operate, successful outcomes and positive partnerships are possible.

1. Both marketing and fundraising are responsible for only one goal – the success of the organization for which you work. If that is not the primary focus, too much time is spent defending unique positions.

2. Fundraisers react and respond quickly to giving trends, advancement research and donor needs, which is very different from a marketer’s need to define strategy, actions, geo/demo targets, budgets, etc. Provide sales with the print and in-person solutions that they need to operate efficiently and get granular with them later.

3. Advancement professionals do not need to understand branding, content marketing or social solutions, but they need to respect it. Without the strong foundation built on executing these strategies, the ability to cultivate new and long-term donors, members and friends is more difficult and formal. Let these tools work to warm up your audience.

4. Like it or not, both departments need to collaborate on organizational goal setting, campaign budgets and schedules. If done during fiscal year planning, it will eventually become a painless part of the process.

For more information on how the two departments can live happily ever after, check out the 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report and note that the most important goals for nonprofit communicators in 2013 is “Acquiring New Donors.”

Without a deeper understanding of their peers in development, Marcom will find meeting these goals a challenge. Fuseideas is in a unique position to build both awareness and giving. With internal expertise in advancement communications, donor relations and stewardship, plus award-winning traditional and digital marketing solutions for academic; nonprofit; travel/tourism; healthcare; and consumer clients, we dismantle silos and send you successfully riding off into the sunset.

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