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Updated: Sep 21, 2023

In the nonprofit world, marketing and development should be built-in best friends, but all too often, they operate like frenemies at best.

I won’t pick sides about who started the rift, but I will make a case for why collaboration only makes both departments stronger. Simply put: A strong development team raises the funds that support the areas that give marketing something to “sell.” When marketing rolls out strong campaigns, development has an easier time raising funds.

To get joint ventures rolling in the right direction, everyone has to come to the table as active listeners - we want to listen to comprehend, not just to respond - while always remembering that moving the organization’s mission forward is the only thing that matters.

The key to effective collaboration - take a deep breath - is putting ego on the shelf, so you can provide your supporters with what they want to see, not necessarily what you want them to see. That may be hard to hear, but I’ve walked in those development and marketing shoes.

We all have an ego, and ego is not always bad. How successful will we be if we’re not confident in our ability to sell a project or idea? But we also can’t fool ourselves into thinking we don’t need to take our supporters' pulse every now and then to ensure we’re still hitting the mark with marketing.

When I worked in animal welfare, we surveyed our donors to see what inspired them to give. Surprisingly, what resonated with donors the most were the cases we thought were a tough sell because they were visually difficult to see and read. Sure, snuggly puppies are always popular, and everyone appreciates our low-cost medical services, but our rescue efforts and complex medical cases really hit home with donors. So, we changed our course a bit.

Our fundraising and marketing teams came together to create content and campaigns that allowed us to keep our community informed whenever we rescued animals from puppy mills and hoarding cases. We learned how to appropriately share the hard-to-see cases our supporters cared about the most. When we did, social media engagement and newsletter subscribers increased. And donations did too.

Marketing was happy.

Development was pleased.

Everyone won.

Collaboration works.

I won’t say either team needs to be deeply ingrained in the daily operations of the other, but they should absolutely collaborate.

We can’t get so busy being rock stars in our own bubbles that we lose sight of the fact that the sky is brighter when we shine together. Wondering how your marketing and development teams can work best together? Here are a few strategies!

Marketing and Development Integration Opportunities:

  • Marketing creates a schedule to promote fundraising campaigns with input from the development team.

  • Development writes copy for appeal letters/e-mails that marketing designs.

  • Development shares donor-giving trends with marketing. Marketing designs content that satisfies supporter interest.

  • Marketing and development create a fundraising campaign to target a specific group (think alumni, major donors, local business owners, etc.) that also highlights organizational impact (like scholarships, services, programs, etc.)

  • Development and marketing work together to plan events. Marketing is looking through the lens of organizational representation, while development is focused on reaching donors.

Questions? Need help creating your fundraising program or deepening your fundraising strategies? Give me a shout at or click HERE to book a FREE CALL to discuss!

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