Marketing Vs. Fundraising- Understanding the Difference

In the nonprofit world, marketing equals fundraising, right? Well, not exactly. Especially for those entrenched in the day to day struggles of a nonprofit development department, the difference in these disciplines isn’t on the forefront of the mind, but maybe it should be. Sure, the end-goal may be the same, but by in large, the process is different.

marketing vs fundraisingNow you may be thinking right now, “wait, marketers bring in money and fundraisers bring in money, so they’re basically doing the same thing, in a different way.” I challenge you to look at it this way instead.

Imagine that two professionals are working for an organization that provides counseling for children who are facing a life-threatening medical condition. It’s a worthy cause and it takes a large team of dedicated staff to realize its mission. Tameika the counselor has the same goal as Sam the major gifts officer, to positively impact the lives of a certain group of children. You’d never say that Tameika and Sam do the same thing, and neither does a marketer and a fundraiser, though many times one person is responsible for both roles.

Fundraising vs. Marketing

What does fundraising entail, on a day to day basis? Among other things, fundraisers research and prospect, build personal relationships and solicit funds directly from donors. It’s a tough job and it requires confidence, social savvy and great communication skills.

Marketers, on the other hand, follow trends, build their organization’s brand and get the word out about the fine work they are accomplishing. This could happen through social media management, blogging or developing an awesome website and logo.

So that means that a fundraiser is working with high-dollar donors, while a marketer is reaching out to the $25 and $50 donors, doesn’t it? Nope. Sharing what an organization does and helping people connect with it is something that is just as important whether you are recruiting lifetime donors, volunteers, staff or clients.

Teaming Up for Greater Impact

So, how can fundraisers and marketers work together to establish a unified development team? If you are with a small, growing organization, you may need to separate the roles and find a way to prioritize both disciplines. If your organization is large enough to have staff who do both, it’s vital that the teams work together to develop donor profiles, strategize and measure your ROI.

If your organization hasn’t done so already, it should create monthly, quarterly and annual marketing and development plans that are independent, but share certain combined goals.

What are your organization’s marketing strategies? How does this differ from your fundraising tactics? If they are one and the same, it’s time to take a look at how you can make a bigger splash.


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