WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
105: Unsiloed: How Marketing & Fundraising Teams and Tools Must Intertwine to Grow Your Nonprofit
“It helps me in my work to stick to a textbook definition of marketing: … Any activity related to bringing your product or services to the market.”
– David Phu, Nonprofit Video Comms
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
What would it be like if nonprofit teams got past the labels and stigmas? Traded in silos for collaboration? This episode of What the Fundraising features a panel of 13 marketing and fundraising experts who are here to discuss how cross-departmental integration advances overall organizational goals by building both brand and donor relationships. They are sharing personal perspectives and busting false assumptions that hinder our best efforts – and desired outcomes for the causes we serve.
You’ll be taking notes throughout this rapid-fire discussion about the “3 Rs” – Revenue, Reputation and Relationships – that define our nonprofit strategies. Inside and out! When we recognize that these pillars are pivotal to strategic development and communications alike, we start to imagine the power of working together. If you’ve got cross-discipline talents to offer, you’re that unicorn we all want. Marketing that inspires contributions? Check! Fundraising that embodies your brand story? Check! As our panelists share their experiences and biases, we start to see consensus emerge around one key action point: Nonprofits as a whole thrive when teams – especially marketing and fundraising teams – form partnerships and work synergistically, based on mutual respect. “When we’re talking about organizations living their values … then everybody wins – the marketing, the fundraising, the CEO,” says Shereese Floyd, Founder of Witness My Life. “Everyone is happy when truly living from the inside-out.”
Evelyn Gosnel & Irrational Labs
Reach Out to Our Guests:
- Host Mallory Erickson – What the Fundraising
- Maria Ochoa – Emprender Creative
- Cody Hays – Marketing Mission
- Heather Nelson – BridgeRaise
- Jen Odom – Jen Odom Studios
- Jordana Merkin – Voice for Good
- Lauren Atherton – HeartSpark Design
- Maria Bryan – Maria Bryan Creative
- Perry Radford – Rad Philanthropy
- Shereese Floyd – Witness My Life
- Susan Kahan – Sapphire Fundraising Specialists
- David Phu – Nonprofit Video Comms
- Katelyn Baughan – Digital Marketing Consultant
- Kelly Garrity – Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
- “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” by Dan Ariely.
- More about the concept of Warm-Glow Giving.
- More about the concept of Goal Gradient Effect.
- About the work of Deborah Small, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.
- A link for the Swedish study of Descriptive Norms and Charitable Giving.
- About Boston’s successful initiative: “Concrete Action: Paving Potholes with Behavioral Science.”
- More about Uri Gneezy’s behavioral science research at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management.
- Our friends at Feathr help nonprofits like yours level up their digital campaigns every day through their nonprofit marketing platform. Don’t rely on magic this year. Check out Feathr to streamline your digital marketing campaigns and exceed your goals. Learn more and get started today at Feathr.co. And don’t forget to tell them that I sent you!
- If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
- If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point
- Check out my Fundraising Superpower Quiz!
TIPS AND TOOLS TO IMPLEMENT TODAY
Get to know Evelyn:
Evelyn Gosnell brings behavioral insights out of academia and into the real world, helping product teams drive business outcomes and customer value. She has worked with TikTok, Google, Airbnb, Procter & Gamble, The World Bank, Microsoft, Intuit, and Indeed, implemented scalable behavioral training programs at companies such as Aetna, and been written about by the New York Times and Chicago Sun. Evelyn is a frequent speaker, media guest, and noted expert wherever behavioral economics intersects with real people’s needs.
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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
02:02 Mallory Erickson: Thank you all so much for being here with me, for my crazy idea where we are going to be peeling back the onions around the relationship between marketing and fundraising. And we’re going to try to get deep here and go right into the nitty gritty. And so, I’m curious, I’ve been doing a lot of research since I never took a marketing class, around what is marketing and what actually falls under marketing and what is parallel to marketing? And one of the things, and I’m really excited by who’s on this call to help answer this question, one of the things that I feel like I’ve heard some conflicting opinions about is the relationship between marketing, brand, and communications. So, can somebody talk to me about, do brand and communications sit under marketing or are they next to marketing? Can we start there?
02:49 David Phu: This is David Phu. It helps me in my work to stick to a textbook definition of marketing, and I know that different textbooks have different versions, but foundationally I go with marketing is any activities related to bringing your product or services to the market. So, an analogy would be if you’re selling apples, shoes, accounting services, whatever it is, you bring your services to the market and either drum up a demand or create a demand or fulfill an existing demand and try to build that awareness, get inside those gaps, position, place, price it, and basically try to invite people to buy your services. I know that in marketing circles it tends to get mixed up with branding or communications. I think those are different things. Branding is one of the activities in letting the market know about your work, about your services, about your programs.
03:52 Jen Odom: Hi, this is Jen Odom with Jed Odom Studios. I believe marketing is more of a short term, and branding is more of a long-term game, so they complement each other. They are two sides of the same coin. So marketing, there is a specific goal. We are going to launch this campaign and to accomplish this goal. Branding is more holistic for the whole organization. Where are we going to be in 10, 15 years and what marketing are we going to put in place in order to accomplish these long-term goals?
04:26 Mallory Erickson: Okay, so you spoon-fed me another question. Thank you for that. Which is, when you gave that example of the campaign, marketing is this campaign to achieve this goal. In nonprofits, is the campaign marketing or is it fundraising if the goal is money.
04:46 Susan Kahn: Hi, this is Susan Kahn from Sapphire Fundraising Specialist. So, the goal shouldn’t be money. As a fundraising consultant, the goal is not money. The goal is to serve your mission. Whatever it is, you’re helping people, you’re solving climate change, you’re giving people food. Whatever is the mission, that is the goal. You’re raising money to achieve the goal. So, the marketing is again, back to how to solve the problem of the mission.
05:15 Jordana Merkin: Hi, this is Jordana Merkin from Voice for Good: Mission-Driven Marketing. Similarly, I was going to say, a good marketing plan supports organizational goals very often that is fundraising driven. To answer your question, is it marketing, is it fundraising? The short answer to that is yes, it is both, and they really do need to work together to be successful.
05:36 Katelyn Baughan: Hey, it’s Caitlin from KB Digital. I’ve been thinking about the topic of marketing versus fundraising since you brought it up. And to be honest, even as a nonprofit marketing consultant with over a decade of experience in marketing, it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the differences between fundraising and marketing.
They’re just so closely intertwined and there’s a lot of overlap. But since I’m a nonprofit marketing consultant, I will just speak to my experience as a marketer in the nonprofit sector, and I’m sure there’s a lot that I still don’t know because I’m always learning. But what I do know is that marketing has really changed over the years. It used to be traditional marketing, like in-person events and meetings, print pieces, TV and even radio commercials, and now there’s more of a focus on digital to make fundraising omnichannel. Marketing, it used to be a very linear process with a beginning and an end, the end being the sale or the donation. And now it’s a very cyclical process where marketing is involved in every part of the journey. I’ve worked really closely with development departments as they’ve launched their fundraising campaigns and they’ve engaged with donors online. I’ve found that these two roles, fundraising and marketing, have a lot of overlap and they require a ton of collaboration for success.
07:07 David Phu: Yes, they overlap because I think especially in the last 20, 30 years of roles becoming really digital, the tools for marketing and the tools for fundraising are becoming so easy to use. And the more and more fundraisers start doing marketing activities or the more people that get hired to do marketing are asked to do development and fundraising roles. Now they’re just starting to double up on the jobs. So, you talked about fundraising does things like donor acquisition, cultivation to second gift steward. Yes, because people are doing both jobs so much that it’s now starting to morph into this single thing. I personally, I would say that if it works for your organization, then it works. Then you can just call them marketing and fundraising. But I don’t think we should appropriate the word marketing or appropriate the word fundraising and start saying they’re the same things, because for lots of other organizations, they are very separate things.
08:17 Kelly McGarrity: This is Kelly McGarrity. I’ll round up both questions into summary. We have how do people feel about the organization. And then what are the tactics that we’re using to accomplish that, which runs both through brand, through marketing, and through communications in a way that at the end of the day, 10 years from now, if we’ve done our job, not only have we met more mission, but people feel the way we want them to feel about the organization, whether that’s for profit or not for profit.
08:52 Heather Nelson: Hi, this is Heather Nelson with Bridge Raise. So, I agree with everything people have said and I think to go back to your question about where does fundraising fit. I think that it’s interesting that you could conceivably market, as Susan described the mission and never ask for money, right? So, this is where I think sometimes marketing and fundraising, but heads is that marketing’s objective to market the mission through a variety of different tactics, ideally with the brand voice and vision and all that in mind. And all happen and no money can ever be asked for. So, when we’re fundraisers looking at a marketing campaign, I think one of the key questions we’re looking for to be asked is the call to action as part of this campaign is, and you can support this by giving money. And so that’s the sort of last step, and I think that’s where that becomes an interesting conversation to have is, at what point does the fundraiser get invited into that dialogue? Is it we have built our marketing story for the mission and the fundraisers are invited to help with the tag at the end to say, and now give us money. Or is the fundraiser and the marketing team developing that storyline that builds the mission story and asks the question, can you support this with money together. And to me that’s one of the tricky bit, is that integration or the invitation of accompaniment through the process.
10:28 Mallory Erickson: One of the big questions I have related to just the calls to action that are financial is, fundraisers are constantly being told not to be transactional. And what I worry about where we’re drawing this line in the sand between marketing and fundraising is that we’re leaving fundraisers just with the transaction. And so, I’m curious, this group is more marketing than fundraising. I’m curious what you think about that.
11:00 Lauren Atherton: Hi, this is Lauren Atherton with Heart Spark Design. So, I almost think about it because I come from advertising and more of the for-profit world is thinking about fundraising more in the care of the relationships. Like, once it gets to one-on-one. So maybe instead of transaction it would be more, okay, now we have this relationship with someone and we’re going to continue to cultivate and work on that relationship. It could result in more money, but I think that’s where marketing kind of gets disconnected from the one-on-one relationships is because then it goes to fundraising or sales. Let’s just say maybe that’s one or the other, even though that’s a taboo word, I think in nonprofit that that might be a different way to think about it in more of the marketing terms that sales and marketing tend to be like separated in the for-profit world as well. When they are working together and in sync with each other, then it’s definitely more holistic for the whole organization. So, it’s an interesting tango that you’re trying to figure out. Okay, when does this get handed off? How do we continue to keep that relationship in the entire ecosystem and not just, oh yeah, now you’re ready for major gifts, you go to fundraisers.
12:09 Mallory Erickson: The other element to this is the role of donor retention. So, first time donor retention is at 20% or lower. So, I don’t actually truly believe that you have a donor when you have your first gift. Anyone can make a gift. And I believe that between gift one and two is cultivation as if they’ve never given before. You’re not talking to them as if they’ve never given before, but they’re not at that one-to-one relationship yet. They’re not being cultivated to a major donor pipeline. Some of them perhaps, if they’ve given a big indication early on. But really that grey area feels super complicated because I think a lot of marketing support or consultants ended the campaign, which is what I’ve heard as I’ve been asking around and I understand. But there’s this huge empty space where people who have given once are not being cultivated.
13:13 Perry Radford: Hey, this is Perry Radford from Rad Philanthropy. I’m going to jump around a little bit here with a few thoughts because I agree with this idea that there’s a lot of overlap here. But one of the thoughts I had is maybe one way to think about a difference between the two is that, marketing is telling us who the organization is, but fundraising is asking who the donor is and how that relates to the organization. So, that’s an inherently relational question. If we’re thinking about how the donor behavior defines that individual or defines their belief system, we can really start to see that this is that one-to-one relationship. My connection to this organization is based on my personal story, my belief. But one of the things I’m really interested in and thinking about in terms of this relationship has to do with public sentiment about how trust in nonprofit has gone down, but trust in brand has gone up. And I think this might be a result of some of the stuff that you’ve talked about where we’re being transactional. It’s this idea of a relationship with the brands themselves. And I think for some people that’s replacing what was once a true relational fundraising relationship with a nonprofit. But over time the marketing, it’s this what you described, the fundraising left to be transactional, so the marketing becomes personal. The steps that are happening are making people feel more individually connected to a brand. They are believing in that more and more, but where does the relationship go? It’s that whole middle ground of who’s left out when the fundraising is left with little.
15:02 Cody Hays: Hello. Hello, this is Cody Hays with Marketing Mission. Mallory, to build off of what you said about filling that empty faith between marketing and fundraising, I think with how, especially on social, with how much we use these tools every single day, it’s important to recognize that we can use a marketing tool like Instagram, for example, as a one-on-one relationship builder with our audience. So, we can use this tool of email or social, that’s a traditional marketing tool, but use it in a way to build a personal relationship and a personal connection with folks. The last fundraiser end of year campaign that we did for an org that had never ran an end of year campaign before, 90% of our content was DMs. We had to DM these people. We don’t have a relationship here. We need to make that one-on-one connection. So how do we do that? Using a platform that everybody’s on, everybody’s using, it is overused. But if we can take the one to the mass route in this particular scenario and go on that one-to-one, we can see a much higher conversion when it comes to bridging that relationship gap. And it’s not just wanting them to engage with our organization, it’s us saying, tapping on that donor being like, oh my gosh, I saw that you broke your leg. I’m going to send you a flower set. Or, I saw that you went to Disneyland with your kids. Congrats.
16:34 Mallory Erickson: I love that. There’s something I want to say really quickly that, that made me think of, I don’t have a dog, but do you guys all know Chewy? Many of us know Chewy even if we don’t have pets because of how they treat their customers, right? When someone’s dog passes away, they send flowers and a gift bag. And it’s interesting, we were talking before about how marketing and sales have long been compared to marketing and fundraising, which for me never works because that actually feels really disconnected and leaves us with that transactional fundraising element. But what you were just saying Cody, made me think that maybe fundraising is more like the customer support side of things, but for donors it is that ideally more personalized touch. But then we have some things to figure out in terms of digital fundraising strategist, are you a marketer, or are you a fundraiser? I don’t know. Or are you both? And is that okay? And then how do we destigmatize the language around these different things? Because I think there’s stigma across the sector and inside shops. I’ve had to have many conversations with marketing folks saying fundraising is not a bad word. We all need to be comfortable using that word and talking about it and thinking about it, and I’m sure the same is true in reverse, so I appreciate that. Okay, Maria, take it away.
18:02 Maria Bryan: This is Maria Bryan with Maria Bryan Creative. So, I have less of a theoretical and philosophical thing to say, but a very personal experience. I had been in marketing communications in the non-profit space for 15 years. I have a bachelor’s in journalism, a master’s in public administration. I felt very at home in storytelling, in marketing and creating campaigns and having a deep understanding of my audience, even a lot of the one-on-one interaction, doing events. I’ve always worked hand in hand with fundraising. In the past couple of years, I served as a marketing director at a small nonprofit and felt really excited about the growth while I was leading that. And then I was asked if I would also take on as fundraising director as well. And I suddenly was drowning and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but even though I had an idea of the avatar of our donor, I didn’t have personal relationships with our donors even if I recognized their names. And I can’t even quite articulate it. There is something about fundraising that was so out of my scope and I wasn’t good at it, and I didn’t do good at it. And honestly, I had that role for six months and then we agreed to bring me back to just marketing and to bring on a fundraiser. And I was thrilled. I was thrilled to go back into my lane. Although you have to work alongside fundraising as a marketer, there is just a different set of skills and relationship building. It’s a different hat to wear, and it’s not just about planning a gala. There is something about having this mindset of fund marketing, you’re raising brand awareness, maybe issue awareness. Fundraising is part of it. With fundraising, it’s so specific on the difference between individual giving and grants and major gift giving. Cause I feel like I would have really needed to immerse myself in learning more about fundraising in order to do that. Not all my marketing skills transferred into fundraising.
20:15 Mallory Erickson: I really appreciate you sharing that perspective. One of the things that made me think about though is inside big companies, there are marketing departments per brand or per product. So, should all fundraising departments have a marketing department? Even if they have marketing separate, but for all of the fundraising pieces that are actually marketing, like the campaigns. Because I think that’s also why it gets crossed over a lot is because you need those marketing skills in fundraising. Maybe you don’t need the fundraising skills in marketing, but you need the marketing skills in fundraising. And so, is it really just something where we should be thinking about marketing under fundraising as an additional need for an organization, even if they have a separate marketing department as well? Okay. Jordan, take it away.
21:11 Jordana Merkin: So, I can respond directly to that. From my personal experience, I have served that role. When I was in-house, I was the marketer on the development team, and I did some things that were separate. Like just marketing, whatever that means. But I did actually serve that role. I was, they called me an honorary member of the development department. I was the marketer who did all the campaigns, who did all that writing. And I think as this has been touched on before, I think it’s a behind the scenes front facing thing. I know not everyone in the development department and not every piece of being a fundraiser is front facing. But to Maria’s point, I think that’s the difference. I have never sat in a donor meeting and made the ask. I have not done that. That is out of my comfort zone. But I’ve written all the materials for the ask. I’ve written the follow ups to the ask. I have done all of those things. And I think that to me is like the, again, the marketing needs to that goal. And when we talked about campaigns, there are also different kinds of campaigns. It’s not always a fundraising campaign. It can be a brand awareness campaign and then the call to action is not donate but it’s something else related to storytelling or sharing or something about that would be more related to marketing, I should say. So yeah, so I think that is also the difference. And to answer your question, Mallory, I do think it’s always beneficial to have someone who can handle the marketing. And to answer a way earlier question, I think communications does fall under marketing. Because it ties to how you speak about your organization and how you’re going to put that out there in a way that not everyone who’s focused on individual asks thinks about. So, I think it’s that behind-the-scenes big picture that needs to be part of every communication and that’s how they complement each other.
22:51 Mallory Erickson: Really appreciate that. And I was asking in the chat about what type of communication would just be marketing. What is that just marketing, not fundraising? And some of the things that were said were board communications, thought leadership, public interest communications, issue awareness. And it’s interesting that I think of all of those things also as donor relationships. Because those are the things that donors need to know. They deepen their relationship to the organization. The more problem aware they become; they certainly want to know about the thought leadership of the organization. Those are assets that I would say are incredibly beneficial in donor cultivation and stewardship. So, it’s just really interesting because I understand why it looks that way because there’s no direct correlation, but it definitely adds to, especially that trust component that already came up and just that relationship component. So, I just wanted to add that little piece. Okay. Maria, for you.
23:52 Maria Ochoa: Hi, my name’s Maria Ochoa from Emprender Creative. So, my background’s a little bit different cause I come from a fundraising background and then made the transition to marketing and communications. And I do think of them very separately even though they need to work together. I enjoy both what both aspects of an organization. Ideally in organizations, if they’re large enough, the unions or the schools, the big school district unions or whatever, they do have a marketing communication, fundraising, they’re all separate. But when you work in a smaller nonprofit, it all melts together. And also like for consultants, you have to be careful of what they really need as a fundraising strategy rather than a marketing strategy or when they need a marketing strategy rather than a fundraising strategy. I always tell nonprofits, you should be marketing, just like I’m sure fundraisers tell. You need to be doing that all year long. And really the purpose of marketing is to sell a product, to sell a brand. You are selling a program, and by selling it means you want to get people interested in your nonprofit. It’s not just fundraising, but it’s like you want to, we create campaigns around programs, around legislative policies that we want to get people on board. That’s marketing, but in a different way. But there are measurable things that you can do in marketing, and they’re very helpful because if you work together with your fundraising, it really helps you understand both the buyer and the consumer and the seller. So, you need to also know who your competition is, what’s out there. So, it works together, but they’re also very different. So, for me, what falls under marketing is really promoting brand awareness, organizational awareness, program, just the overall mission of the organization where I feel like fundraising does the same thing, but they have a very unique goal for whether it’s for campaigning or for a particular amount that they’re trying to fundraise, but they should really be working together.
25:56 Mallory Erickson: Can you explain what some of the metrics are that you would use to judge a successful marketing campaign and what the success metrics you would use to judge a fundraising campaign and which of those are similar and which of those are different?
26:12 Maria Ochoa: So, for us, because I do marketing for different programs, we measure attendance, signups, we’ll have a cohort for participants. And last year they had, they were very unsuccessful getting people to sign up. So, we launched this whole media campaign to get people to sign up for this year’s cohort and it tripled in signups. So, that’s a measurable number. It’s a measurable goal. But also, emails is part of marketing. So, part of marketing is making sure that you have all those components, like a clean list. A clean contact, clean, and it’s an ongoing process. So, you can measure emails, you can measure participants, you can measure attendance for conferences. There are various ways. It’s not necessarily like product based, but there are measurable outcomes.
26:59 Mallory Erickson: And then does somebody want to list off fundraiser campaigns? If you were running a digital fundraising campaign, what would be the metrics you would be tracking? Yeah, Susan.
27:10 Susan Kahan: Sure. If you’re doing an email, I would say obviously open rate, click, and then conversion. Conversion to donations, and so looking at that and subscribes as well, making sure that those numbers are high. But one other thing I was just thinking about, that’s a difference that I just didn’t want to forget to say. I think a difference between fundraising and marketing is talking about money. And while fundraising isn’t only about money, it’s about building relationships and it’s about solving the problems of the mission that the organization’s trying to do. But at the end of the day, you’re there to raise money and you need to get money for the organization to do its job. So, I think that talking about money with other people, other companies, other foundations, whoever, is a key part of fundraising. Whereas marketing, in my opinion, is not as much the talking about how much it costs to do the work.
27:59 Mallory Erickson: Okay, Cody?
28:00 Cody Hays: All right. I can speak to the events side of things, and especially during the peak pandemic when we were all at home and doing virtual events, what we preached to our clients was, yes, let’s look at your fundraising goal, like what do you need to raise. But also, how many people do you need at that event in order to reach that fundraising goal based on average gift size. But then especially during the last two years, we focused heavily on new supportive goals. So, if we’re having an event and can we reduce that ticket price in order to get more people in and have this one-hour entertainment, education moment. Cause how often do we get one hour of uninterrupted attention from our donors? And so, when we’re looking at events, it’s what’s our fundraising goal? What’s that registration goal? What are those new supporter goals? And we can reverse engineer getting into some of the metrics that Susan and Maria were mentioning earlier.
29:05 Mallory Erickson: Ooh. Okay. I need to throw a wrench in here really quickly because I want to double click on what Heather said in the chat around the fact that fundraising communications are actually a lot less about money than we think they are. So, I want to throw a different type of example your way and get your thoughts. A lot of you, I’m sure, saw what Charity Water did recently where they had that entire DM Choose your own adventure experience. So that was an experience, a storytelling experience. They were talking about what’s happening in one of their locations. I think most people would argue it was a marketing engine that was doing that, and you were being prompted at a certain point in that journey to donate. So, what is that? What’s happening there? Is that a marketing department and a fundraising department working well together, or is that a marketing department putting donation call to actions in their marketing material?
30:03 Shereese Floyd: Hi, I’m Shereese Floyd, the CEO of Witness my life. In regards to his question. I think what I haven’t heard in this conversation, I run Facebook ads for nonprofits, and I agree with the Susan who said that the fundraising piece is not always a money conversation, and in the case of the Charity Water, we have to understand what our donors value, what is important to them. And I hate that word, donors in general, but what do people value in general? Why are they coming to you, to a nonprofit? And once you determine that, it’s easy to put together marketing pieces, quote unquote fundraising pieces, quote unquote, that speak to people because all of us want to be a good person overall. And so, when you understand what people are motivated by, are they motivated through their ego? Is ego, what is causing them to give? And you can find these things out when you’re researching them in who are they giving to? Are they motivated by the idea of being a good person? Are they motivated simply by the idea of doing a checkoff every end of the year? Or what other things that they’re giving to. So, it’s that psychology piece when you really tap into understanding people as people, and not necessarily people as donors or people as board members, just people as people. Then it becomes easier to have conversations around money and you’re building up those marketing assets that are speaking to the human people, it’s speaking to the emotion. And so many nonprofits are afraid to get into the emotion, but that is where people are going to start spending money. And so, it’s that values piece that often gets lost when we’re marketing and fundraising.
31:56 what Shereese what she said on the values piece, if we’re thinking about, keep us as humans, we have our own unique values and we want the organizations that we’re supporting to represent those values. So, if I’m thinking about myself as a donor, am I going to be willing to donate if I haven’t seen a proven track record of success? Maybe not. And maybe I will. Maybe they have an incredible story, but if I don’t see that there’s the track record in the sense of what advocacy have, they done, what PR, what have people been talking about them, and what are these communication pieces that we see that are so important that can complement the fundraising pieces. The organizations where, for context, I like solely do marketing and can write up a good sounding fundraising email, but much prefer to be tag teaming with a fundraising person like a lot of us here. And so, I think the most success that I’ve found with clients is let’s do our advocacy alert or share our what or when of success. But then let’s test, let’s pull in fundraising who’s really wanting us to go in deeper with an ask and be like, we can chill for a second. Let’s just put that donate button at the bottom and see how it goes first. And start testing and start bridging that gap in a way that doesn’t feel like, oh, fundraising is overtaking marketing, or marketing is overtaking fundraising. We never raise any money on social, because all we’re doing is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I think another thing that someone also mentioned was the difference in psychology where Shereese mentioned difference in decision makers. So, we know that some people, their journey is short and quick and others it’s long and lots of thinking. And as we think about how we communicate as humans, we know that some folks will pull out their credit card or will donate from an Instagram story. And we know others are like, my grandma would be like, I don’t know how the heck to do that. And she’s going to need you to call her up and text her the URL. So I think there are multiple avenues to our end goal, and when we do work together, it helps our organization creep closer towards that goal every single day.
34:23 Mallory Erickson: Yeah, I really appreciate that. And I think, and Maria, I’ll let you go next. You know the thing that keeps coming up for me though, Cody, around what you said at the very beginning of that, how much are people just going to click and maybe you were thinking about the ad question I had asked. If an organization just starts running for the first time ever, Facebook ads that are asking people to donate to a totally cold audience, they’re probably not going to get a lot of donations coming in that way. And so, this is what’s really interesting, maybe because I’ve worked in mostly small organizations where there was no marketing person or department or anything like that. And I felt like I was banging my head against the wall as a fundraiser until I started to read marketing books. And it was Seth Godin’s Purple Cow revolutionized how I fundraised. I was like, oh, okay, I’m starting to get people and desire and how you talk about things and community building through my words and all this stuff that I felt like in a lot of my fundraising training, I was only really taught that one-to-one piece. But in my fundraising activities or building the pipeline, I was responsible for all of these marketing metrics essentially. Maria, take it away.
35:44 Maria: I love that, Mallory, and I think to see also my own story, that nonprofit marketers have a lot to learn, fun fundraisers too. And being bold in their asks and not being afraid of money. That’s just a secondary thought from what you just said, but thinking about Charity Waters’ social campaign, to me is absolutely a marketing campaign with the call to action being fundraising. But they’re going to win whether they make a ton of money on that or not, because it’s such a huge, expansive brand awareness campaign mixed in. But Scott Harrison flies all over the country raising big gifts with individuals. That is such a big difference in Charity Water fundraising versus this marketing with goal to fundraise or the relationships he’s building with people. So, while marketing, we need to get to the point and we’re starting to move towards not just being behind the scenes, literally online. Bur breaking through and bringing more community into our marketing. And I’d love to see more of that coming down the pike for marketers. Fundraisers have that down, knowing how to really hop on the plane and get in front of people and building relationships and making their asks.
36:59 Mallory Erickson: I appreciate you saying that, and I wanted to ask you a follow up question. You or anyone who wants to answer this, you had said that piece around the campaign that they’re going to win no matter what because of brand awareness. And it brought me to this question around the fact that I think one of the reasons that marketing often gets deprioritized, especially if we think about the small shops who don’t have a marketer, don’t have a fundraising department, is because they don’t know how to track marketing metrics towards goals in a short enough timeline that justifies that investment. And so, I feel like that’s one of the things that we need to answer. There is this unknown element, I think to marketing, particularly folks inside fundraising shops who don’t have any marketing experience. And so, how do you make the case for marketing campaigns where the clearest ROI, whether or not there’s a donate button in there, but the most important ROI of that campaign is not about money. How do you measure it? How do you talk about it? What am I missing?
38:05 Maria: Yeah, I love this. And if you don’t mind me speaking a little bit more on it, a lot of this conversation, I’m thinking back to the gifts and talents and psychology of a marketer versus fundraiser. And I think marketers, a lot of other marketers that I know here is the slowness of marketing and how slow the ROI is and being okay with that and just the trust that you have that the small wins that you can celebrate and just knowing that you’re building up to something that might not come to fruition until later. Whereas maybe fundraising, and again, I’m not a fundraiser, the pressure to raise a very specific amount of money during different seasons of the year, so how can I make a case for it? I think that those of us who are marketing consultants or having to really be advocates for marketing within their nonprofits do have a big job at being able to communicate that slow build and how important it is. I think it’s having to bring a lot of case studies to the table, and I think we maybe are a little bit more comfortable with the slowness of marketing and saying, okay, maybe we didn’t reach our fundraising goal, but man, we have so many new donors and we’ve reached all of these people and we’ve doubled how many people have come to our website. And that is so meaningful to a marketer. Whereas maybe to a fundraiser that like, yeah, but we didn’t actually reach our fundraising goal. So, what was the point? But it’s all meaningful and it all matters.
39:30 Mallory Erickson: Okay, so what’s so interesting about that is exactly in my opinion, what is required for donor retention, because donor retention is the exact same thing. It is a slow investment. You do not know the impact of retention strategies for a long time. And so fundraisers become very demotivated around investing in retention strategies because they don’t get that feedback loop fast enough, they don’t know how to measure that type of engagement. And so there’s something here for me around maybe marketing really does hold some ways for us to think about that retention relationship differently. We bucket it as fundraising, but what if we had it in marketing and really thought about that differently? Okay. Lauren, take it away.
40:20 Lauren Atherton: Yes. So going off of that idea too, is that I think that’s why so many nonprofits also deprioritize brand, which is why Charity Waters is able to do an innovative campaign like that, because that’s one of their values, is innovation. So it’s know thy self, invest in thy self, and then your marketing, fundraising, mission, story, all these things come off of that and our flow out of that. But it’s hard to measure brand because it’s impressions. It’s, what do people say about you? What do they think? And Charity Waters increased their reputation as an organization that’s innovative. So, when we see something like that, we go, wow, that’s true and that’s amazing because that’s who they are. So, I think the core is really understanding, at your nonprofit what are those values. And not like the fluffy values, like the real values. Who are you really? And how can you show those values and not just tell people, oh, fun, or we’re innovative, or we love animals, or what are those pillars and those stakes in the ground? That’s the hill you’re willing to die on. And you’ll attract people to that because that’s what you’re standing for. And I think that’s a like a long game, that many nonprofits, exactly what you said Mallory. Like you want to see the results. What are we going to measure? What are we going to get the results out of this? But it’s really knowing yourself and then allowing that to come to life in different campaigns, come to life in your mission, and speaking with donors. And it’s not just donors, volunteers, there’s so many different ways for people to get involved outside of just donations. Yeah, that’s my little soapbox. But I think that long underpinning game that really ladders up to marketing and fundraising and communications and all those things.
42:02 Mallory Erickson: Thank you. Heather, take it away.
42:05 Heather Nelson: That’s super interesting to listen to this from the, seems like I may be one of the pure hardcore fundraisers in the room here. And I think a couple of thoughts that really come through, fundraisers really do value the brand work and the marketing work, and certainly many of us for that long game queue and see how it can really support fundraising. I think where it becomes difficult from my point of view is, even though this conversation, you can see how many other objectives the marketing teams have. And rarely, it seems that raising more money for the organization is a prioritized one. And that may be because that’s what the fundraisers do. However, we need that message to be in
all of these places that we’re talking about strategically and thoughtfully and not as an afterthought. And so, it’s how can fundraising be more integrated in the branding exercise and then all the different places that it could be show up when we talk about those board materials or we talk about the thought leadership piece, if we’re also thinking how is that going to fit with the next major gift ask or the next cause marketing campaign, it’s amazing.
So I think the challenge is that we often have marketing teams see fundraising as the after, oh, now that we’ve built the brand and now that we’ve built the loyalty and now that we’ve brought people in, now the fundraisers can receive the handoff. And as a fundraiser, I want us to be in all of those places all the way along, not the afterthought. And that tends to be a point of tension. Even more. And then I have some specific tools, and Jordana talked about this that really are my tools that are fundraising, but marketer who knows how to fundraise is like the greatest asset. I frankly don’t want to be writing those letters. I want a kick ass marketer who knows fundraising to be writing those. Because I would like to be out building the fundraising relation, the relationships. And I think, then it’s whose job is that becomes the big negotiation sometimes, like then is it the fundraiser or the marketer? And I want it to be the marketer who knows fundraising. So, that’s just a few thoughts from the fundraiser here. And my dream is the scenario where these two parts of an organization have deep respect and much deeper integration than I see in the vast majority of organizations. And I think we’d all be better for it honestly, if we could get that to happen.
44:43 Mallory Erickson: Heather, you said so many important things there and I agree. I think when I feel like we’re so afraid to invite a call to action that invites people to invest in the organization when we’re so afraid to incorporate that into these other campaigns as well. And we silo fundraising in that way. It’s really hard, and I know we share a lot of beliefs about what good fundraising is, that the movement of money is one expression of our values, just like signing a petition, just like doing these other things. And when we pretend it’s this other thing, this big sacrifice that someone’s doing us this big favor around that they really didn’t want to do, they really wanted to sign that petition, but they had to be guilted into giving. That’s a little bit of the narrative that sits in these camps that sort of underlies this. Whereas if we believe that investing is one way we express our engagement, one way we express our values as people, that it’s an incredible opportunity. It changes then, I think how we think about where it can live, and maybe that’s for me why I’ve seen the two intersect so much more. One thing I just want to double click is this piece around the need for fundraisers and marketers to come together inside organizations and inside this community. There’s stigma around both roles and there’s stigma around the nonprofit sector in general. I almost posted a poll on LinkedIn the other day that was like, what word makes you cringe the most, fundraising, marketing, or sales? That be a fun, friendly little competition. But everyone has their biases, everyone has their things. And this puts marketing, Heather, like you were saying, and so many of you have said, this often pits marketing and fundraising against each other. If you all listening to this, can come together and realize that the sinking of your departments, that the de-stigmatization of each other’s roles in your own brains is only going to help you ultimately achieve the goals that are on your list and it’s going to feel a lot better because you’re going to get to operate in community inside your organization instead of silos. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.
47:01 Yes to all of that. Yes, to working together. Again, I think like a good marketing plan supports overall goal. So, it’s not like marketing is just working on the side over here because the marketer thinks that this is a good thing to post today. Like it’s part of a bigger picture plan. And I know there’s this perception that, as we’ve said, like the fundraising supports a more immediate need. There are deadlines around that, and especially at year end, like we have to work toward that goal for the calendar year. But the marketing piece, it supports all of that. It’s a funnel toward that. I hear often, we need to get in front of new donors, but how do you expect to get in front of new donors if no one knows who you are? And how is anyone going to know who you are? You’re not focusing on marketing and having a consistent message and investing in your brand and the communications, right?
All of those pieces should be working together with the fundraising piece. And this is coming from a marketer who does enjoy the fundraising marketing, but the other pieces are also important. You need the awareness raising piece in order to support the fundraising piece. So yeah, here’s too, getting rid of the silos.
48:05 So one of the ways an old boss of mine used to put our work is that we’re in the business of the three Rs, Revenue, Reputation, and Relationships. And so, when we’re talking about how we break down this silo, for me a big part of it is this high level goal. All of our work together is contributing towards us getting those three Rs into Mallory’s points, lots of ways we can’t even calculate or keep track of. So, I think there’s a level where in strategic visioning when we’re planning to Heather’s point, how do we all have a seat at the table together and think about this really broadly about where our work is influencing each other. Then there’s the level of actual campaigns. So, for me, coming from higher ed, one of the biggest projects I do in a given year is a day of giving. Is that marketing or is that fundraising? Because it’s a lot of both chopped up together. But when you bring the two teams to the table and you really have that shared ownership, wow, we can really drive a lot of progress to both of our individual team’s goals at the same time, which for me, it is really exciting. I love that.
49:19 I also wanted to just cosign on getting rid of the silos. I think to Heather’s point, the marketer that can also fundraise is the unicorn. And in nonprofits, there are so many people that are sitting in nonprofits right now who is the director of marketing and development, and they are essentially the person who has to do both of the pieces switching in and out of left and right brain, if you will. And I think it’s always beneficial to be able to tell the higher ups. As we know, marketing is like the first thing that goes out the window when the budget is not where the budget should be. But as I put in the chat, you have two forms of currency in marketing. It’s time and money. And so, you’re either going to be willing to invest that time or you’re going to be willing to invest the money. And if the slowness is an issue, then you’ve got to be able, you have to be able to spend money in order to speed that process up. And so, for the fundraising side of it, it really does become this thing where if the marketing and the fundraising piece are not completely integrated, the marketers don’t care if the paragraph reads exactly how it’s should read for conversion or the fundraisers don’t care about that the way that we do, or they don’t care if the piece is pretty or if, or who is actually going to, and all of those things. But if those two things are not integrated, you are actually working against each other and you’re not moving in the same place. And that means that internally the brand doesn’t work. And if internally the brand doesn’t work, it doesn’t work when you go outside of the organization. And so, when we’re talking about organizations living their values, they have to live the values from the inside of the organization out, and then everybody wins. The marketing, the fundraising, the CEO. Everyone’s happy when you’re truly living from the inside out.
51:25 Mallory Erickson: Okay. Honestly, I don’t really know where to begin with this one because there is so much in here, but here’s some of the top things that I’m thinking about right now.
Number one, it feels to me that marketing folks feel like marketing and fundraising are two very different lanes, but that fundraisers see the overlap and similarities more readily. This really emphasized for me the need for development departments and fundraisers to have marketing support inside the development function too.
Number two. To expand on that theme, this conversation also reinforced for me how uncomfortable we are talking about money and our discomfort talking about money is actually a big part of creating these silos, in my opinion. If we were all more comfortable with the idea of nonprofits bringing in money and fundraising not being some taboo activity, I think we could see a much more seamless integration of fundraising and marketing.
Number three, marketing and fundraising development and communications. It’s really important for all organizations to have a clear organizational understanding of how these various functions overlap internally.
Number four, fundraising is about so much more than making the ask and so much more than one-on-one donor relationships and communication. There seems to be a lot of education needed about what fundraising really is and what it includes. So, there will be a whole other episode about that one day. But fundraising is not just major gifts.
Number five, whatever your content pillars, your organization’s primary stakes in the ground, those are the defining drivers for donor education and retention and engagement. They say everything about who you are and whether your mission resonates in the long term with that donor or not.
And number six, the big takeaway is tear down the walls. Stigmatizing and siloing marketing and fundraising is counterproductive to your nonprofit’s essential mission and potential. Marketing and fundraising folks both agree that all boats rise together when the two work in tandem.
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