Ask Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Our organization is preparing for a new structure in which it’s likely that Communications and Resource Generation (Fundraising) will become one department.

Do you have any advice as to implementing change from separate departments into one that lead to staff buy in as well as growing cooperation? Have you experienced any of these mergers where the department heads became Co-Directors? Some of the staff are very concerned about someone from RG leading the department. They feel it will lead to RG issues trumping the “prophetic voice” role of communications. Or that only stories favoring fund-raising efforts will get attention.

All the best,
Larry Guengerich, Communications Coordinator
Mennonite Central Committee East Coast

Dear Larry,

Your concern is a common one. In fact, the marketing-fundraising divide — whether these teams are joined in a single department or not — is one of the most common challenges nonprofits must tackle.

The real issue that the Committee is facing, no matter which team leader heads the new department, is that your marketing and fundraising teams are not productive partners.

Unfortunately, that’s the situation in most nonprofits where a single person doesn’t wear both hats. As fundraising expert Mal Warwick told me recently, when marketing and fundraising teams stand firm in their respective corners, the disconnect becomes a huge obstacle to building strong relationships with your organization’s community and raising money.

But there are ways to surmount this obstacle. Fairleigh-Dickinson University (FDU) succeeded in doing so via a deliberate, well-articulated re-structuring. I’ll tell you more about its approach in a moment. But first, here is my recommendation for a four-step process to bring marketing and fundraising into a productive partnership, supplemented by insights from some of the best fundraisers and nonprofit marketers I know.

  1. Start at the top. It’s the only hope for a strong marketing-fundraising partnership.
  2. Articulate shared priorities to serve as the core of a common agenda.
  3. Identify what’s working—from each “side”—and do more of it.
  4. Build on real, compelling success stories, well-honed and widely shared and discussed as the glue of your fundraising and marketing conversations.

Larry, breaking down the wall between marketing and fundraising is the only path to success on both fronts. I urge you to start today.

As a first step, I suggest you and your colleagues read this guide to a productive marketing-fundraising partnership, including details on the four steps to success and the Fairleigh-Dickinson case study.

Please report back on the outcome of this shift, Larry. Your experience will pave the way to more productive partnerships. Thank you!

Readers, what are your strategies to strengthen the marketing-fundraising partnership in your organization? Please share them here with the Getting community.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s messaging with the all-new Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Tagline Report.

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 1 comment
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6 Steps to Showcasing Your Marketing ROII was really jolted by this Ask Nancy query I recently received. Jessica (names have been changed to protect the innocent) asks for help with the most challenging (and most critical) step in nonprofit marketing — getting the support of decision makers and colleagues for doing it right.

Q: Help — We're losing ground past and we need professional marketing help. How do I get the budget and support to get it?
My organization has been in existence since the 1960s, longer than any other environmental group in the state. But, like many nonprofits, we've never been good at marketing ourselves, and therefore don't have the membership base we need. As a result, we're beginning to lose our historical advantage.
We clearly need professional marketing help. I'm an implementer, but I'd be far more effective working with a marketing expert who has analyzed our challenges and designed a strategy for me to implement. While leadership recognizes our need for professional marketing help, they are not moving forward in that
direction. Help!   
Jessica, Outreach Manager, State Natural Resources Council

Believe me, lack of support isn't uncommon, especially now when tensions are high and budgets low. Many nonprofit professionals either don't understand or doubt the value (or, in some cases, the seemliness) of marketing. Others see value in marketing but are in the "just do it" camp, not understanding that professionalism is as essential here as in other fields. It is these organizations that are frequently eclipsed by competitors in membership, fundraising and awareness. As a result, their impact is significantly limited.

Build support for marketing in your org by learning how to showcase your marketing ROI (return on investment). Read my guide to building support for doing marketing right today.

Flickr Photo: William Hartz

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation | 4 comments
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The 8 Key Elements for Effective Internal Communications -- Ask Nancy Q:   I'm developing a communications plan for a client, but it's not focused on reaching the media (as many plans are). This is about generating visibility internally at a large institution.

I have meetings scheduled with key members of the institution to collect ideas, but I'm hoping you'll share your ideas on core elements for a plan to communicate within a complex environment.

My instinct is to consider messaging, audiences, media, resources required, measurements of success. What am I missing?

–Noelle, Communications Consultant

A:  Dear Noelle,

Great question and good you're asking now, before you dive in.

You've made a great start with your list. But include these additions and clarifications:

  1. Goals — What you're trying to achieve
  2. Measurable objectives — What tangible outcomes will indicate campaign success or need for fine-tuning
  3. For Audiences — Who you have to engage to meet your goals
  4. Strategies (rather than media) — Building awareness or engagement, or motivating action, and channels that lead there (likely to include building buy-in and training for any internal communications work)
  5. Tactical work plan — What gets done when
  6. Roles and responsibilities — Who does what. You'll want to build a team of messengers throughout the organization, way beyond you and your client there.
  7. Budget
  8. Evaluation and campaign revision

Let me know how the planning goes, Noelle, and what the outcome is.

Best of luck,

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every internal or external communications campaign! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Ask Nancy, Internal Communications, Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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Ask Nancy What's The Best Software for Designing Print MaterialsQ: I've been researching software to use for developing marketing collateral.  I have researched Adobe PageMaker, Illustrator, QuarkXPress and more, but just can't seem to determine the best tool for me, our organization and our marketing goals. 

We currently Microsoft Publisher to design marketing collateral (brochures, one -pagers, etc., but I want to be able to do more with photos and graphics than I am able to do in Publisher. What software, if any, you would suggest for an organization that does not want to hire a graphic artist for all of its marketing needs?
                  — Talia Piazza, Program Coordinator, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

NOTE: Since I'm not a graphic designer, I consulted with one of the best — Susan Edwards — on this one.

A: Sue says "Adobe's InDesign is the professional design and layout software of choice these days. It's expensive and powerful (code for 'steep learning curve')."

If you're designing for professional printing, I definitely recommend you learn to use InDesign. Professional offset or digital printers require high quality PDFs in order to create high-quality printed pieces. Publisher and Word just aren't designed to create output for professional printing.

A great way to quickly master InDesign is to dive into these modestly-priced online tutorials at You can sample a few of the Getting Started segments here, at no charge."

P.S. Please send your nonprofit marketing inquiries to Ask Nancy. I promise you that I'll respond to as many of your questions as possible, always sharing the responses with readers of the Getting Attention blog and e-news.

Nancy Schwartz in Ask Nancy, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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