Books, seminars, and online guides for non-profits always emphasize the importance of marketing. For some non-profits, marketing can seem a bit crass or at least outside their comfort zone. For others, particularly those with dedicated marketing staff, it can be only too much fun. These latter non-profits may delight in making tweets, designing t-shirts, and dreaming up ever more inventive ways of promoting the non-profit.
However, marketing can never be and end unto itself, and always makes its goal to generate greater awareness and therefore more successful fundraising efforts. Rather than hoping sincere marketing will lead to higher fundraising, it’s important to make the two things part of one unit, one effort. Here are some guidelines for how to do so.
The Marketing and Fundraising Team
If you have one marketing team and a fundraising team, that’s good. While they will do much of their functioning separately, they really need to be brought together as one unit to plan fundraising activities, and then to align your organization’s marketing efforts around those activities.
Fundraising Informing Message
If you’ve read anything on marketing, you’ve seen references to “message” or “story.” While a few different considerations may inform the makeup of your message, specific fundraising goals should be one factor.
That is, your monetary goals and your strategy for fundraising—will it be done via live events, mailings, door-to-door, etc.?—must be determined before overall marketing strategies are. Your marketing team needs to know these things, as well as any key demographic foci for your fundraising.
This allows the development of your story or message to do a few things. First, it can be proceed taking into consideration any fundraising events you may hold. How storytelling can be done through demonstrations, presentations, etc. can be a very useful consideration when deciding on what the story can be. Next, the intended audience can play a role. Yes, you want to tell the story of the good that your organization can do, your goals and how you think your organization can achieve these. However, if you are consistently targeting niche groups, keeping them in mind, their interests, the way they like to receive messages, etc. can also come into play. There’s a difference between the cause you are trying to fight and the people who are your key potential donors.
Don’t Cross Purposes
There are times when fundraising and marketing can talk past one another. If you may be seeking funds from religious or conservative populations, marketing with rock and roll flare and plenty of youth slang may not be the most helpful.
You also don’t want marketing budgets to be spent on hats or t-shirts only to then plan a fundraising event that has no available funds for promotions.
Remember That We’re All on the Same Side
As you get into a partnership and close collaboration between the marketing folks and the fundraising folks, there’s at least the possibility of some conflict, a feeling that one side is at the mercy of the other, that one side isn’t being heard enough. A leader of the organization as a whole should probably step in and try to facilitate here. At the end of the day, everyone is united by love of the cause and what helps one component of the operation helps the other components. Trying to look at things from the point-of-view of the other side and keeping them equal is very important.