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Allison Gauss
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Why Nonprofit Marketing and Development Departments Really Need to Work Together

In any business or organization, different departments sometimes don’t communicate and collaborate as well as they should. It’s easy to run into trouble when you don’t know what the rest of the organization is doing.

In the case of nonprofit marketing and development departments, it may seem like you don’t have much in common. After all, Marketing and Communications are all about the message, while Development is all about the money, right?

This willingness to separate the two departments is not only bound to cause miscommunication in the office, but it can prevent nonprofits from reaching their audiences effectively and efficiently. In this blog, we’ll uncover why Marketing and Development need each other and how they can work together to benefit everyone.

Let’s Take a Look

While smaller operations may have a lot of crossover between staff handling general communications and those fundraising, nonprofits of all sizes can lose touch of how entwined their different departments are.

Below is a very simple illustration of how Marketing, Development, and Programs work together.


As you can see, it’s a cycle. The Development Department raises funds that support the nonprofit’s programs. The programs provide success stories, impact, and statistics to show progress and the Marketing and Communications Department takes these stories and results and uses them to promote the organization. Marketing reaches out to the public, attracting new donors and fundraisers for Development to prospect.

Without Development, there would be no programs and no need to market them. Without Marketing, Development would struggle to fundraise and programs would suffer.

Okay, so Marketing and Development need each other, but that just means we all need to take care of our own responsibilities, right?

We can all keep doing our jobs and just say “hi” at the holiday party, right?

Well, you can, but you’ll be wasting time, money, and your own sanity.

Give and Take

Smart nonprofits know that when Marketing and Development work together, both departments benefit. So here’s how these different sections of the organization can help each other out.

• Share Your Goals

The whole point of this collaboration is for both sides to achieve their goals more efficiently, but to do that, you need to be on the same page. Both departments need to know about fundraising goals, major PR opportunities, and brand awareness. Pay special attention to the areas where your goals overlap so you can work together.

• Find a Common Voice

If Marketing is trying to emphasize fun and hope while Development is appealing to address an urgent need, your audience will notice the discord. Development must be privy to and have input in the overarching communications strategy to ensure donors and other supporters receive a consistent message from the organization.

• Share Stories and Real Estate

If you go back to the diagram above, you’ll note that both Marketing and Development need impact stories to reach their audience and achieve their goals. This is an obvious point for collaboration. Furthermore, Development can provide exciting news for marketing when they have a successful fundraising campaign or forge a new partnership.

The Marketing Department can also give Development the exposure it needs to reach new donors, perhaps by offering some room on the organization’s homepage. While Marketing may want to devote most of its collateral to impact and powerful images, Development knows that having visible CTAs and acknowledging donors is extremely important. Think of your website as something to build together, not property to be divided.

Get Along to Get Where You’re Going

The fact is, the Development and Marketing Departments are forever entwined. They depend on each other for success, but they will find success faster if they collaborate and support each other.

get along

Marketing and Development must get along.

To make sure you are always on the same page, try to get both departments together once a month. That way you can plan to support and promote each other, especially when an event or initiative concerns you both.

Let’s Summarize:

• Meet regularly to discuss goals and plans

• Find a common voice that works for you both

• Development should pass any exciting fundraising news on to Marketing

• Marketing should work with Development to publicize fundraising campaigns and general donations

Don’t Miss the Holiday Fundraising Season

Image Credit: Flickr User jeffreyw

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