Chartwell Agency was recently invited to present two sessions at a conference for non-profit  fundraising professionals coordinated by the Northern Illinois Center of Non-Profit Excellence (NICNE). Our session, titles “Integrating the Efforts of Your Marketing and Fundraising Team” helped participants understand and improve the sometimes-tenuous relationship between marketing and fundraising teams. Here are some of the takeaways we shared:

Understand that the Brand is at the Heart of the Problem

The role of the marketing team is to shape and share a consistent organizational brand – helping cultivate a perception of the organization that drives the way the community thinks, feels and takes action. Protecting that brand and delivering a consistent, compelling message is priority #1. However, in a recent survey of more than 100 non-profit organizations, only 16 percent said that the fundraising team was included in discussions and decisions about the brand. As a result, the brand, which marketing teams are sworn to protect, was not flexible enough to meet the needs of the fundraising team. Thus, the brand itself becomes a source of conflict.

The answer? Bring fundraising professionals to the table to discuss the brand.

  • Is it meeting their needs? Does it cultivate an awareness that lends itself to support of the organization? Are there perceptions they encounter that the teams should work together to address?
  • Bringing the two groups together will not only alleviate some of the tension, but it also will result in a stronger, more comprehensive brand.

Stop the Silo Insanity!  

Very often the marketing and fundraising departments work in separate silos, making collaboration difficult. Even when one individual wears both hats, there are distinct budgets, goals and timelines for each department. Stop working in silos! Find ways to blend both departments to drive innovation, creativity and collaboration. Perhaps they should share a creative budget, and set priorities around direct mail, web, and social media initiatives accordingly. At the very least, both departments should share some goals, making working together a necessity.

Synchronize Calendars

When Chartwell Agency develops an integrated communications plan for our clients, we look at the natural peaks and valleys of the client’s calendar and find opportunities to enhance the valley periods. This results in a higher, but more level, standard of visibility and workflow throughout the year. To achieve this, marketing and fundraising departments should schedule their initiatives to balance out a calendar, manage workflows and maximize the benefit of their efforts. Don’t plan your major gala the week of a website relaunch! Instead, plan the website unveiling as a way to generate enhanced interest in the organization and use it as a platform to promote the event and sponsorship opportunities. A little advanced planning with a 12-month calendar can go a long way to reaching goals (and maintaining sanity).

Create Shared Rituals

We know that people give to people, so developing relationships is key in fundraising. The same can be said in the workplace. People WORK with people. Creating shared rituals – a weekly coffee chat, monthly outing or regular get-togethers – between the two teams will help build relationships. This in turn impacts the organic exchange of information, willingness to help, shared creativity and ultimately, results.


Marketing and fundraising teams need to work together to achieve organizational goals, and these few minor suggestions can reset the relationship for the better.