Why Nonprofit Communications and Fundraising Belong Together

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Nonprofit communications and donor development are like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies. Some things just belong together.

Why are you laughing?

We know. The reality for many nonprofits is that interaction and strategy between these functions at a social-sector organization is more like oil and water.

But lucky for you, we believe in harmony — and even better, we believe in helping social-good organizations get results.

A modern strategy for the changing donor

The desire to do good has never been greater. Last year was the most generous year on record. According to Giving USA, more than $1 billion is donated to philanthropic causes each day — with 71 percent of that from individuals.

With individual philanthropy leading the way, what a tremendous opportunity for organizations to take a hard look at how to reach people with compelling messages and appeals at the right times.

Donor development professionals know they are responsible for cultivating relationships that support the mission — they host events, send emails and direct-mail appeals and spend a good deal of time cultivating relationships one on one.

Nonprofit communications leaders will acknowledge a connection to development work but many are focused on elevating brand awareness and communicating program impact.

As today’s donors are shifting to an “I’ll search and find you” model, the disconnect between communications and fundraising within organizations isn’t helping anyone. People are seeking and receiving information at a time and place of their choice and on devices of their choice.

Modern donors need to be invited into your work so they can see the benefits you offer.

Putting it all together

This is where the magic happens. In the modern world of doing good, communications and donor development can and must go together.

How do you do this? By taking sound strategy and  integrating new and emerging tools to increase your prospect base and nurture donors along a journey to support your organization’s mission and good work.

Where do you begin? It always helps to define your audience segments. We do that by creating personas (you can read more about persona development for nonprofits here). This is the fun part.

With crystal clear pictures of the people you want to reach and engage with, you can move on to making sure you’re sharing the right content with the different people you’ve defined in your personas.

You want your supporters to take an action — step by step on this journey. This requires great content ideas (communications pros, celebrate!) — but don’t worry, you don’t have to create it all from scratch. The beauty of this approach is that you already have communications pieces — from blogs and case studies to resource reports and case statements — that can be repurposed to draw in existing and prospective supporters.

Is it becoming more clear? Donor development professionals are experts at understanding what drives supporters and communications pros know how to tell stories and create content that brings your mission to life. Having a shared sense of goals, the people you’re trying to reach and the stories that will draw them in are the first steps to catapulting your organization into the future.

Learn more about using digital strategies and tools to boost fundraising. Download the eBook: Connective Impact: Accelerating donor support by uniting development and communitcations.

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