“We ask ourselves, how do we connect our messaging with what is going on in the world?” Wallace says.
City Harvest is able to be so nimble because of the marcom/fundraising synergy. Having fundraising staff involved in the decision making around messaging gets everyone on board and makes it easier for the team to be consistent and feel comfortable using it, since everyone has a voice in creating it.
The collaborative approach to developing messaging not only helps secure the City Harvest brand, but it creates an easier transition as donors mature in their relationship with the organization.
“This strong messaging has better resonance with the donors and is more successful. The major-gifts department will talk about it in a more detailed way than the direct-mail department, for example, but the underlying messaging will be the same,” she explains. “Major gifts will involve more personal, higher-level conversations, but the messaging will be the same and everything will be consistent in terms of statistics and numbers, so it’s not such a jarring transition when you go from one level to another.”
Pushed to come up with a downside to the collaborative paradigm at work within City Harvest, Wallace says there’s often a bit of skepticism when new staff members come aboard, since they may come from organizations where the silo mentality rules.
“But they can see the results and the tremendous growth, and that makes it difficult to push back too hard,” she says. “Integration of messaging for all channels has proven itself year over year.”
Wallace explains that when Barrick left City Harvest in May, the organization split the external relations department back into two separate departments — marcom and fundraising — but only because the staff had grown so much under Barrick’s leadership and no one in-house really had her background to manage the combined department in the same way.