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.


3 Pros and Cons of Working at Home

work from homeWorking from home is every parent’s dream, right? Sure, working where I hang my hat has its advantages, but let’s be real here, some days it’s more like a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and where I do it. For me, no commute and a flexible schedule means that I can manage care for my autistic son and chaperone field trips for my daughter, but it also means missing out on a quiet morning commute and monthly birthday celebrations. So before you start scouring job boards for remote opportunities, consider these pros and cons to working at home.

The Cons

1. Your home is full of distractions.
Beeping dryers, barking dogs and buzzing lawnmowers are just some of the distractions that I deal with on a daily basis. It’s not just noise that can knock you off track, it can also be looming chores or needy family members. It’s helpful to designate an area of your home as a work space. If you don’t have room for a home office, at least set up a desk that is only used during working hours.
2. Friends and family assume that you have more time than you do.
Just because you don’t have to drive to the office doesn’t mean that your workload has disappeared. Unless you set firm boundaries, others may assume that you can come can go as you please, which can leave you working late into the evening in an attempt to catch up. Before you set up shop at home, communicate with family, friends and co-workers so that you don’t end up overextended.
3. You miss out on water cooler chat.
This one needs no explaining. Working from home can be isolating, so make time for lunch with friends and colleagues so that you don’t get overwhelmed and lonely.

The Pros

1. You have full control over your environment.
Work better with a candle scenting the room or talk radio piping through your speakers? Go, ahead, you’re in control! For some, working in their comfort zone ups productivity.
2. There’s no need to worry about office drama.
No office, no office drama, or at least minimal office drama. When you work from home, you get to focus on work, without the daily politics that permeate some office settings.
3. You’ll save money you never even realized that you were spending.
It’s not just gas money you’ll be saving when you work from home. If trips to the lunch cart or coffee shop are a part of your daily routine, you might find that working at home leaves more money in your wallet. Before you assume that you’ll save money by working at home though, think about what you’ll invest in internet service, electric and other at-home costs. Even with these expenses factored in, you’ll likely find that working at home makes good economic sense.
Do you work remotely? How do you stay motivated and manage your workload?

Content Marketing for Nonprofits

content-is-king-1132258_1280When I was heavily engaged in the management of a nonprofit, content marketing was the furthest thing from my mind. Truth be told, until a few years ago, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what content marketing actually was. As it turns out, the organization that I worked for was probably missing out as a result of this oversight. So, why would a nonprofit need content marketing anyway?

Nonprofit Organizations and Content Marketing

Content marketing is essentially a business process. Creating content that a target audience wants to read and distributing that content through the right channels drives traffic and produces leads. But if an organization isn’t driven by profits, what purpose would this serve? Well, I can’t think of a single nonprofit organization who couldn’t use more donors, or community advocates, or clients, or volunteers.

With over 1.5 million nonprofits in existence in the US, competition is fierce, so nonprofit organizers need to do whatever they can to get, and hold, attention.  Only around half of American nonprofits will experiment with content marketing this year, and fewer still will actually incorporate content marketing into their overall marketing plan. Not surprisingly, those organizations with a documented content marketing plan are generally large, well-known and successful.  The thing about organizations like this is, they usually got this way because they understand what works.

Where does this leave smaller, newer nonprofits, who don’t have large marketing teams and substantial resources to devote to this tactic? Well, there are several things that development staff, organizational leadership and even volunteers can do to start the process. The best part is, they are all relatively inexpensive.

Plan and Communicate

Even in the grassroots phase, any nonprofit that wants to succeed needs to set aside some time to brainstorm and document ideas. Half of successful marketers meet at least weekly, but it’s less about time and more about communication. If teams discuss content marketing, they are more likely to develop and stick with a plan. Meeting regularly will also allow everyone involved in the process to vet ideas and avoid duplication.


Top-tier nonprofits know who their audience is. They also know who their competition is. Knowing who to target is essential for developing effective content. Researching organizations who are great at what they do and figuring out what kind of content they are producing, and where it ends up, is a great idea. It’s also important to discover what the goal of each piece is. Is there a call to action? Is there a link to a donation page or email sign up form? All of this data can be compiled to develop a killer content marketing strategy.

Guest Posting

Starting a blog is intimidating for many nonprofit leaders, even though it shouldn’t be. That’s why many start by writing some guest posts for other blogs. Chances are, any nonprofit worth supporting has some subject-matter experts involved. These are the folks that they should be asking to write guest posts. It’s an easy way to link build an audience, establish an organization as a thought leader and even get some links back to as website. Whether it’s an educational journal, a partner’s blog or a major publication, it’s vital that guest posts are distributed to sites that the target audience finds credible. Once the post is out there, it’s time to share. Social media is great for this.

Social Media

Speaking of social media, every nonprofit organization should have social media profiles. Not only should they be connected, they should be utilized. Social media is not just for kids these days. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like are used by 65% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64, for example. The fantastic thing about social media, besides its potential to reach a large audience quickly, is that it’s the perfect place to distribute content, written by the organization and other relevant sources.

Now that I’ve outlined some basics, I can’t wait to hear how they’ve worked for your nonprofit organization. Give content marketing a try. If you stay flexible and dedicated to getting results, you won’t be disappointed.