They’re meant for each other. Yet it may take a while to bring them together.
Here’s what I mean:
Peanut butter was first introduced at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It didn’t get mixed with jelly until 1901, when the first PB&J sandwich recipe appeared in the Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics. It was served in upscale tea rooms, and was exclusive food. Until the world changed.
The 1930 Depression made peanut butter, a low-cost, high-protein source of energy, a star. But not the combo sandwich. Not yet.
Peanut butter and jelly were on U.S. Military ration menus. Soldiers added jelly to the peanut spread to sweeten the sandwich and make it more palatable. When soldiers came home from the war, peanut butter and jelly sales soared.
Suddenly this marriage became the norm. Why separate them? After all, they went together like… PB&J!
We never looked back.
How is Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Integration like the Marriage of PB&J?
They didn’t start out married, but they belong together.
Here’s what I mean:
At every small to medium-sized nonprofit I’ve ever worked at, fundraising has been embraced first. It was mission essential, and marketing was seen as a luxury.
At larger nonprofits reliant on earned income (e.g., universities, hospitals and major arts institutions), marketing has been embraced first. It was mission essential, and fundraising was seen as a dirty step-sister.
Some nonprofits saw the benefit in integrating the two, but it was a somewhat exclusive practice. Until the world changed.
The digital revolution.
This fundamentally changed ‘business as usual’ for businesses of all stripes, for- and non-profit. The way people access information, and communicate, moved from outbound to inbound. There’s a flood of information across a boatload of new, networked channels. And you no longer control the message. It’s less about you, more about them.
Research reveals social benefit sector organizations are getting the message and marrying these two essential functions. But not enough marrying is going on. Only 39% of nonprofits have integrated teams.
Not everyone is moving forward.
How If You’re Not Connected, You’re Disconnected
Not just from each other. But from the folks you’re trying to reach.
You’ve got to make what you do, and the way that you do it, matter to people.
Here’s what matters in today’s connected world:
- Assure people find you;
- Assure once they do they’ll give a fig;
- Define yourself so you stand out;
- Define yourself so you appear relevant;
- Define yourself with clarity, so you don’t confuse folks
- Invite people to join you in your unfolding story
Marketing and fundraising, working together, can help each other focus on what really matters: getting into constituents’ minds and thinking from their perspective.
Let’s take a look at why and how the two should stick together so you can lead your team to the altar!
How PB&J and Nonprofit Marketing & Fundraising are Alike
1. They require a thoughtful approach
One to sandwich making; the other to facilitating philanthropy.
Think about it. When you decide to make a PB&J, you give thought to the type of ingredients you’ll add to the mix. Crunchy or smooth. Strawberry jam or grape jelly. What are you, or those for whom you’re creating this delight, in the mood for?
The same holds true for marketing and fundraising collaborations.
Always ask these questions before you create and disseminate any piece of marketing content:
- “What does the audience want?” (e.g., they support social justice)
- “What will particularly appeal to their taste at this moment in time?” (e.g., they’re concerned about issues currently in the news, like refugees… justice… gender equality… health and safety… free press)
- “How big is their appetite for this specific concoction?” (e.g., they’re worried rights are in danger of being abrogated)
- “Will they consume this?” (e.g., they told us in a recent survey this was the topic of greatest interest to them)
Your creative efforts are best put to use when they’re informed by knowledge.
When your goal is to facilitate philanthropy, you need to create a sandwich so yummy folks will put down money for it. This means marketing and fundraising staff must speak to each other. Both about goals and methods.
2. They complement each other
Let’s say I, the fundraiser, want to raise money to produce a new play.
Rather than simply write and mail out a cold appeal, I talk to the marketing staff about warming up the crowd. I say “What can we do via communications to set the table for the appeal we want to make?”
The marketer says to me: “What’s the play about? What are the underlying themes? What story does it tell? How might the playgoer feel after attending?”
Then we have a dialogue.
The marketer comes up with the following:
[Name of play] speaks to the importance of art, specifically art that speaks to the frailty we all share. This is a play that reminds us we’re not alone in the complex struggle that makes us human. It evokes empathy – something sorely needed in today’s world. [Marketing message that simultaneously makes the case for donor support]
Or perhaps the marketer says to me: “We should consider surveying donors to see why they attend/don’t attend particular types of plays, movies and performances. What moves them to attend? What makes them feel the experience was worthwhile?” [Marketer then helps fundraiser develop a simple online survey to get a good read on what floats donors’ boats].
3. They stick together
Fundraising and marketing go hand in hand.
As one nonprofit social media expert puts it:
“Effective marketing gets people’s attention, and successful fundraising keeps it. The two should be working together and not at cross-purposes, but they require completely different strategies and unique skillsets.’ —Julia C. Campbell
While I may not quite agree that the skillsets are “completely different,” I do agree these folks absolutely must stick together.
Marketing staff are more likely to ask: “How can we get this message out to the widest number of people?” and “How can we refine this message to best grab folk’s attention and pique their interest?”
Fundraisers may more likely ask: What do donors need to see in terms of impact?” and “What keeps them giving year after year?”
Both are equally important.
4. One without the other is simply not as tempting
Your “customers” (fundraisers think donors; marketers may think clients, members, patients, students, buyers) want to learn about what you do as it relates to how it will help them; they don’t just want to hear about how great you are. Luckily, there are ways to merge promotion of your product or service with great value for your constituents.
A great way to begin is by taking to heart the philosophy of “The Sales Lion:”
They ask, you answer. – Marcus Sheridan
Don’t try to shove your standard, garden variety PB&J down their gullets.
That’s a miserable experience.
The only way you’ll get folks to open your content and read it is to tempt them with something they’re likely to really enjoy.
Begin by brainstorming as a marketing/fundraising team about all the questions your participants, supporters and influencers ask. Then answer those questions one by one.
- You take time to understand constituent needs
- You are experts in this field
- You think beyond yourself (i.e., your product/service) to all the other related issues your audiences may care about.
Really think about the issues that concern your constituents before beginning to develop your content.
— Some answers may be simple. Perhaps a short blog post or video will do.
— Other answers may be complex. You may need to offer some in-depth research, perhaps through a white paper or infographic to explain the results and their implications.
— And don’t forget about the importance of adding calls to action for folks who want to get actively engaged!
5. They’re a total package
There’s little point to considering content creation without simultaneously considering content promotion.
How are your constituents best reached and moved?
- Fundraising staff may tend to think mail and email.
- Marketing staff may also think about different social media channels that require different content marketing approaches and might attract broader and/or different audiences (e.g., LinkedIn connections may want to hear about research methodology; Pinterest followers may like to see an infographic with a link back to a blog post; Instagrammers may respond better to a single, captivating photo; Twitter followers may enjoy a single quote, with a link back to a story on your website).
To succeed, you need to channel the voice of your customers and speak their language.
As one content marketing expert shares:
Your content and social media marketing programs will be more effective if they spring from and are led by the VoC [Voice of Consumer]. They should address customer needs and interests and truly be interesting, educational, useful or fun. — Bob Geller
Your customers are not alike. But they often overlap.
Donors can become customers, and vice-versa. You can’t “unstick” the peanut butter from the jelly.
I’ve been a broken record for years on the need to integrate fundraising and marketing.
A comprehensive multi-channel approach, offering a tasty variety of different content types across multiple platforms, enhances your overall branding and increases the likelihood your message will be received, remembered and, ultimately, acted upon – not just by one potential constituent, but by all of them.
Why not build a yummy sandwich that will have universal appeal?
Want More on How to Integrate Marketing and Fundraising?
Listen in on this webinar I offered as part of the lead up to the Nonprofit Leadership Summit organized by the Wild Woman of Fundraising, Mazarine Treyz: Leading 21st Century Nonprofit Marketing & Fundraising Teams.
If you’re an enrolled Clairification School student you’ll be able to listen when logged into your “My ClaIrification” dashboard. If you’re not yet enrolled, please join us!