Chief Development, Marketing Officers Cage Match Yields Department Restructure
Recently I met with a client—one of the top 10 health care nonprofits in the U.S. I asked for a meeting with its marketing and donor acquisition staffs. Much to my surprise, this was the first time this group had been brought together in the same room.
At another client, recently an entire layer of the marketing department had been released, with new personnel being brought into the development department to do marketing.
At yet another client, the development officer is finding that the marketing officer is making decisions once in her purview. She doesn’t like it very much.
To tell the end of the story first, our technology has outgrown our organizational chart and it is making life hell.
Our traditional organizational chart hasn’t changed much since marketing departments emerged as part of organizational structure. With the advent of digital, we simply built out a subset of the marketing department. In that organizational chart, the marketing department’s job, in most organizations, is to deliver the opportunity for a soft landing for sales work, a great facade, lots of brand impressions, brand awareness and other hard-to-measure benefits.
In today-speak, marketing’s job is called "inbound." The marketing department’s job is to create "inbound" interest. Then fundraising (or sales if you are for-profit) should create specific opportunities and raise money (or close the sale).
Things have changed. The line between fundraising/sales and marketing is getting muddy. Nowhere is that muddiness more apparent than in peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising. For many years, peer-to-peer departments have struggled to get along with marketing directors as they began to use the traditional tools of marketing directors’. Email campaigning is the most notable of the tools causing conflict.
The P2P department had their own email tool, and it lived in its P2P online platform, far out of reach of the marketing department. Marketing wanted access and oversight over that tool, seeing it as a way to deliver on its responsibilities to the organization.
A symptom of the technology/organizational chart misalignment are the many relationships that have been hurt by marketing and fundraising professionals in conflict. They fought, and fight now, over how messaging should be designed and deployed from the online fundraising platform. “Who owns that?” is the question.
In for-profit-speak, the P2P department is engaged in sales, not inbound interest creation. The use of the same kind of email campaigning tool the marketing department uses was and is confusing from the outside, because it looks like the P2P department is using an “inbound” tool. But they aren’t engaged in “inbound.” They are fundraising.
So, for the last 10 or so years, this conflict has been brewing, contained—when it was contained—by smart people leading departments who worked closely with other department heads.
All hell is about to break loose now.
That line between fundraising (sales) and marketing just got a lot muddier. There is an acceleration of the restructure or entire dissolution of traditional departments on the organization chart.
The culprit? Automated marketing. To help understand automated marketing, let’s compare traditional (inbound) marketing to automated marketing. Inbound is a megaphone. The louder the megaphone, the more prospects you can touch. Inbound marketing is accomplished with a lot of tools:
- Digital advertising/social media
- Email campaigning
- A lot more ways
Let’s focus on email marketing, as it is the simplest comparison on the automated marketing front. Inbound marketing using email has looked like this: use segmentation and variable data then email blast, measure, send email blast, measure, etc.
Automated marketing using email looks like this: use segmentation and variable data then send email blast, measure response individually, respond individually, and rinse and repeat until sale/acquisition is made.
Automated marketing is sonar. Inbound is a megaphone.
I’m using email marketing as the example, and I’m going to stick with it for this blog. But, trust me, there’s more functionality. Lots of people say it, there’s more. (Oh heavens, sorry, got political there for a moment.) The point is, automated marketing is more like sonar—you send out a signal, and through various channels, you hear "pings" back from your audience.
And those "pings" back? Pings look like a sales relationship, or fundraising as the case may be. Pings mean you are forming (digitally but still forming) relationships that yield sales/fundraising. If something is yielding sales, that department wants ownership, since the department’s performance metrics depend on those things.
Now, inbound can’t go away. We need it. But the hard line between marketing and sales/fundraising must go. Traditional organizational charts must go. Metrics have to be redefined. Goals have to be redefined. It’s a brave new world. Nobody is in development. Nobody is in marketing. We are all in sales.
Next week, more on that devil in a blue dress—automated marketing.
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising,” and the 2023 book, "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape," and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” She and Otis are also co-authors of the books, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising" and "Social Fundraising: Mining the New Peer-to-Peer Landscape." When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.