Fundraise Smarter

Fundraisers, Your Marketing Team WANTS to Help You. Let Them!

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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Last week, we published our Marketing/Communications and Fundraising report, called “The Marketing and Fundraising Rift.”

If you missed that, it’s the result of a 300 person survey of fundraisers and nonprofit marketers. Give it a look!

We asked a range of questions in the original survey, but we left a few out from the final report, just because they didn’t quite fit into the point of the article.

But I was interested in the results of one question in particular that we ended up leaving out of the final report.

It caught my eye because it went against what I expected.

The question was this: Who SHOULD be responsible for online fundraising campaigns?

  • Fundraising?
  • Marketing?
  • Both?
  • Both, but fundraising has MORE responsibility?
  • Both, but marketing has MORE responsibility?
  • Or Neither?

My expectation for this was that everyone would put that responsibility on fundraising. Fundraisers would set up their fence around that, and marketers would gladly let them have it.

After all, an online fundraiser is still a fundraiser, yes?

Fundraising Campaign Calendar

For the most part, fundraisers lived up to my expectations. They were most likely to say development holds the sole responsibility (16.3%), or at that both departments are responsible but fundraising holds MORE responsibility (50.37%).

But it was the marketers who surprised me.

Marketers rated their responsibility higher than fundraisers across the board. 8% said they’re solely responsible (only 6% said development is solely responsible), 15% said both are responsible, but marketing holds MORE responsibility, and 32.26% said both departments are equally responsible (29.63% chose that option).



To me, this points to one conclusion: nonprofit marketers WANT to help more with digital fundraising campaigns. But fundraisers might not be as willing to share that responsibility.

Essentially, nonprofit marketers are telling their fundraising colleagues this:


Why You Need Your Marketing Team To Help With Digital Fundraising

I think it’s a mistake to be territorial about online fundraising. We’ve seen it time and again: the organizations that are the most successful with online fundraising are the ones that also excel at digital marketing.

This is because, perhaps more than any other funding source, digital fundraising is dependant on building and maintaining a strong audience. And that’s what nonprofit marketers excel at.

“Digital marketers might understand metrics and strategy while development will have essential knowledge on donor profiles, trends, giving amounts, and other ‘nitty gritty info’,” says Grant Yarbrough, Managing Partner at Common Good Strategies. “Development can write the asks, marketing can help with how to deliver it.”



The biggest driver of campaign page traffic is email, so a large, engaged email list is an incredibly important asset when it comes to raising funds online.

But note that I said large AND engaged, not just large. You could have 300,000 email addresses, but if you’ve done nothing to cultivate and build trust with them, the odds are pretty low that they’ll suddenly start donating to a campaign once you email them.

Your friendly-neighborhood marketing team knows how to build a list and maintain a strong relationship with them. They can help you choose the right language to make the most of appeal messages. And they can help you decide who to send what to.

Here’s a few other things your marketing and communications team can help with:


Campaign Ideation

It’s not enough to throw up a crowdfunding page and just hope people will donate. The most successful campaigns are typically the most creative.

“When you have an event or campaign, don’t discount the marketing and communications team,” says Wilda Wong, a not-for-profit communications professional. “Both marketing and development, just by the nature of their work, have to be very creative. So there could be some very interesting ideas flying around when you involve the marketing team in the planning process.”


Donor Persona Building

Every marketer knows about their “buyer” persona (or “donor” persona in the nonprofit realm). Sure, as a fundraiser you’re probably familiar with them too, but your marketing has a deep knowledge of these personas and how to utilize the data around them to segment lists and put the right message in front of people.

Effective Appeal Copy

Speaking as a marketer myself, I can tell you that just about everyone in this field obsesses over choosing just the right words on every piece of collateral we put out. An effective campaign page, appeal email, or even social media update needs to effectively communicate need, cause, and emotions in order to be successful. Let them work their magic!

List Segmentation

Different types of donors need to hear different types of messages. Marketers typically have lots of experience segmenting lists by various criteria to help send targeted messages. This could be by age, donation frequency, connection to the org, location, or more. Bring in your marketing team to decide which groups to target and how.


Targeted Ads on Social Media

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter ads can be an incredibly powerful tool for development efforts. They allow you to be highly targeted, and they’re one of the most cost-efficient forms of advertising you can do. Your marketing team can help you get the right eyeballs on your campaign page using their experience here!


Start Early

If you really want your marketing team to be effective in their efforts to help a digital campaign, you need to bring them in early.


Build that collaboration into everything you do. Sure, it might mean a few more meetings. It might mean you need to utilize some new project planning tools. It might take some more legwork in the beginning to get started. But your campaigns will be better off for it.

Fundraising Campaign Calendar

Topics: online fundraising, nonprofit marketing,

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