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December 4, 2021
Support Your Mission by Linking Fundraising, Communications Teams
By Stacie Madden

Stacie Madden
Stacie Madden
Joining all your communications to build your brand, develop powerful donor journeys, and enable your charity’s mission requires more than good intentions. It needs the full commitment of the whole organization, and usually some major change.

Charities can better integrate their communications to maximize support by working together with fundraising to increase support for your organization. Breaking down barriers to integration and creating solutions can result in harmonious integration and seamless presence for your supporters.

Fundraising techniques are changing and there's much debate regarding the effectiveness of traditional fundraising sources. We're hearing a lot about social media, the importance of websites, emerging technologies, and the transitioning of direct mail to electronic media.

Now fundraising is a blend between communications and development, and your challenge is to work together to engage donors and achieve organizational goals.

The Importance of Integrating Fundraising and Communications
In your supporter's eyes there are no fundraising and communications departments. There is only one charity, which only exists because of a cause. Increasingly, you are communicating to your donors through multiple channels and in multiple ways.

Consider key findings of the 2013 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, including the following:
  • Websites, social media other than blogging, and email marketing are the most important tools, followed by in-person events, media relations/PR, and print marketing. These are the Big Six of nonprofit communications.
  • Social media is starting to edge out email in importance to nonprofit marketers.
  • Facebook remains king of nonprofit social media with 94% of nonprofits identifying it as a top social media site. Twitter was selected as a most important social media site by 62% of nonprofits, followed by YouTube at 42% and LinkedIn at 24%.
  • Big jumps over 2012 in rankings for video and photo sharing.
  • 76% of nonprofits say they’ll e-mail supporters at least monthly.
  • Quarterly is the most popular frequency for nonprofits (39%) to send direct mail to the typical supporter.
  • Biggest challenges: Lack of time to produce quality content and lack of budget for direct expenses, inability to measure effectiveness, lack of clear strategy, and producing engaging content.
  • What excites nonprofit communicators: new opportunities to expand their reach and connect with new people, using social media more strategically, and developing and implementing communications plans.
  • What scares nonprofit communicators: inability to keep pace with and effectively manage social media, inconsistency and disagreements about how to approach marketing, lack of funding.
Here are some tips to integrate your philanthropy efforts with marketing and communications to increase support for your mission.

Tip One: Identify areas to integrate marketing and communications with development to position your organization for success
  • Create your brand positioning statement by all of your target audiences.
  • Map out your competitive set, both for services and donations.
  • Stay authentic and grounded in your mission, with marketing and philanthropy grounded in your positioning statement.
  • Prioritize your target audience, survey your audiences to understand who they are and what they want from your organization.
  • Have a written social media policy and a common understanding of what’s appropriate and who should post which content.
Tip Two. Consider the one thing that you think your organization should focus on from the very beginning
  • Create annual and quarterly goals that are measured by both departments that raise awareness profile and encourages new donor interaction.
  • Create publications that perform dual purposes and target donor communications, use “you” more than “we” along with simple designs, not cutting edge.
  • Provide giving envelopes in all printed publications.
  • Do a donor survey to determine what donors really care about and turn survey result into messaging.
  • Coordinate between the online and offline worlds.
  • Pay attention to the spikes in social media, respond to posts, track the interactions.
Tip Three: Break down silos across your organization to create a culture that supports integrated marketing and philanthropy communications
  • Build positive relationships that cultivate cooperation and collaboration between fundraising and marketing.
  • Find commonality and linkages between the groups.
  • Create a mindset for fundraising to think like marketing communications and vice versa.
  • Solicit content from everyone in the organization. Be out in the organization, be engaged, be available and provide positive reinforcement.
  • Create an editorial calendar and hold a monthly meeting between departments to gather new ideas and content for external communications.
Stacie Madden is senior director of marketing and sales at HopeHealth, a Hyannis-based nonprofit that provides services to enhance the quality of life for people experiencing serious illness or loss. Call her at 617-750-1981 or email to
September 2013
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