My Most Important Discovery in Marketing

The most common mistake I’ve seen in marketing is when organizations approach it separately from fundraising. Some have staff involved in marketing, and some have staff raising money–but these groups of individuals aren’t talking to one another. The most important discovery I’ve ever made in marketing is:

Marketing and fundraising must be integrated. 

This will save you money. Instead of having one campaign for raising funds, and another campaign for telling the world about the non-profit, why not kill two birds with one stone? It’s foolish to think that the person who’s interested in funding the non-profit wouldn’t be interested in using it’s services. The battered woman, who gets back on her feet with the support of a women’s shelter, is probably going to end up making a donation to the shelter. The man who sponsors a few kids to attend summer camp probably had an amazing camping experience when he was a child.

So how do you integrate marketing and fundraising? It’s quite simple: think about both of them at the same time. As you’re developing your marketing campaign, think about how it will tell the world about the non-profit, while at the same time making a direct ask for support. If you’re in the middle of a campaign, then your ask should focus on supporting the campaign, while at the same time telling how it will benefit the organization–or more importantly–the people it serves.

If you’re fortunate to have staff working in these two areas–rather than the same staff handling both marketing and fundraising–then make sure they’re dialoguing at the same table. Make this a collaborative effort so that every plan is considered through both marketing and fund development lenses.

I led an initiative to integrate the marketing and fundraising efforts at a non-profit. It had lean staff with the same individuals handling both marketing and fundraising, but handling them completely separately. There were brochures and a website–and some other marketing materials–but the message was either communicating about the non-profit, or asking for a donation. It was almost as if the materials targeted two different types of people. What they didn’t realize was that many of the people who used the non-profit’s services were also the ones who gave regularly—and that they probably would have given more, if they’d been asked. As soon as we integrated the marketing and fund development arms of the organization, the donations increased substantially. More people were asked to give, and the message about the non-profit was still broadcasted.

Take it from me. Integrating marketing with fundraising works. It will save you time from planning two separate functions; save you resources from producing two different groups of marketing materials; and ensure you’re asking everyone who comes into contact with the organization to donate.