Fundraising and Marketing: The Perfect Power Couple

Laura Hoxworth (@laurahoxworth) is editor and content strategist at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina.

It’s easy to understand, on the surface, why fundraising and marketing should be friends. Fundraising depends on persuasive messaging. The institution itself depends on fundraising. It’s as simple as that.

And then you add in the daily juggle of deadlines, goals and events. If your fundraising and marketing offices are separated (in organizational structure and physical distance), we start getting into dangerous s-word (silo) territory. It can all leave you feeling a little less friendly and a little, well…



It doesn’t have to be that way! From personal experience, here are a few tips on how to weave a metaphorical friendship bracelet:

Create Structure for Communication 

Last year, we had a few issues with our campus magazine. The magazine was produced by the marketing office, and members of the fundraising office felt disconnected and left out of the process. Meanwhile, marketing staff members felt stressed by last-minute changes. We quickly realized our problems all traced back to one thing: communication.

When you’re not working physically side-by-side or having regular meetings, communication requires more conscious effort. For us, a detailed schedule (with meetings and approval flow, agreed upon months in advance) and a switch to Google docs (to automatically share all changes and updates) did wonders. Now if only we could figure out what to do about those class notes…

Trust Each Other’s Expertise

Need some insight into what your young alumni want to hear? Chances are the people talking directly with them every day have some good ideas. Want help crafting a persuasive, on-brand message? Yeah, you know where to go.

It’s just about respect. Instead of bringing a task list to the table, bring questions and an open mind for advice and guidance. Understand that you have a valuable resource in your coworkers’ different perspectives and experience—don’t let it go to waste!

Think Bigger than Projects

Recently, our two offices decided to create buyer personas. Using basic framework from the Buyer Persona Institute, we’re examining, together, what we really know about our audiences—and focusing on the bigger picture. (This is just one example—there are millions of possibilities for collaboration beyond everyday projects.)

I know, I know… It’s hard to imagine adding another task to a large list of looming deadlines and events. But if you can carve out the time, it’s worth it. You’ll all walk away with renewed appreciation and a more holistic view of both your job and your institution.

Expand your Professional Development

Collaboration is much smoother when you understand (and genuinely appreciate) the other side’s challenges. Don’t wait for them to fill you in. There are so many great resources out there to learn more about what’s going on in the fields of fundraising or marketing! Of course, CASE is a perfect place to start. And, try adding a few blogs to your RSS feed or following a Twitter hashtag or two.

Focus on the Stories

No matter the project, no matter the current relationship between your two teams, here’s what you always have in common: your students and graduates who tell your brand story and create a reason for your donors to give. Behind every good ask and every good piece of marketing there’s a “why” (and it’s the same for both). Find that why. Hold onto it.

Everyone benefits when marketing and fundraising combine forces. Together, you can be the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of your institution: accomplishing awesome things on your own—and even better things together. High fives all around!



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