4 Steps to a Productive Partnership
Marketing and fundraising are two halves of a whole. But when they don't operate that way, the results are far less than they could be.
Unfortunately, that's the situation in most nonprofits where a single person doesn't wear both hats. As fundraising expert Mal Warwick told me recently, when marketing and fundraising teams remain stuck in their respective corners, the disconnect becomes a huge obstacle to building strong relationships and raising money. But there are ways to surmount this obstacle. Fairleigh Dickinson University broke out of this pattern via a deliberate, well-articulated restructuring. Here's FDU's strategy and results, and my recommendation of a four-step process to bring marketing and fundraising into a productive partnership.
1. Start at the top
This is the only hope for a strong marketing/fundraising partnership. If bridging the marketing-fundraising gap is the goal, the pathway to getting there has to be spearheaded by your leadership. Your organization's executive director, supported by the board, must be the one to guide the two teams into active collaboration and ensure they stay there.
Put more bluntly, the heads of development and marketing have to embrace the reality that they are on the same team with a common goal — increasing community support.
2. Articulate shared priorities
These are the core of a common agenda. As long as your marketing and fundraising teams have distinct goals, they won't be effective partners. How could they be, each pointed in its own direction? But if tasked with a common agenda, the landscape changes. A marketing/fundraising partnership is the only way to get there.
The advancement leadership at FDU made a radical change a couple of years ago as it merged the development and marketing teams. The teams had worked together in the same room for many years, but premerger did so side by side with distinct goals and paths of activity, says Dina Schipper, director of university public relations at FDU.