Integrating your fundraising and marketing teams: it’s only beneficial!

Integrating your fundraising and marketing teams: it’s only beneficial!


Zoe Williams has led on communications and charitable fundraising for the Vagina Museum since 2019. She is a 2023/24 Professional Fellow.


In many cultural organisations and charities - certainly the ones I’ve worked at, the fundraisers and the marketing teams are kept separate, and never the twain shall meet. The rationale behind this makes sense at face value: these are entirely different skill sets: a fundraiser’s job is to bring in income and build relationships; the marketer’s to “sell” the product. I bought into this myself when I interviewed for my role at the Vagina Museum: I vividly remember giving a full accounting, in the form of a five-minute speech, about how I was only half qualified for the job because I was just a marketing manager, with limited fundraising experience. Once I’d finished, a Trustee on the interview panel blinked at me in befuddlement and said, “I asked if you had any questions.”

I got the job, and as it turns out, your marketers and fundraisers should be talking to each other constantly.


The language barrier 

Fundraisers and marketers are, by and large, doing exactly the same thing, but using a slightly different language to describe their work. For example, what fundraisers call stewardship is what marketers call the marketing funnel. A fundraiser has an interest in maintaining a relationship with donors, so they will donate again and again, perhaps ultimately leaving a legacy. Meanwhile, the marketer’s intention is to take a customer and keep them with the organisation, building loyalty so that person will become an advocate of the organisation. The only real difference here is that fundraisers view stewardship as a pyramid in which supporters progress up, while marketers view it as a funnel in which supporters progress down. Rotate either 180 degrees, and you are looking at an identical journey. 

Almost identical, anyway. Put both together, and you’ll find that the marketing funnel has more detail in building awareness and profile, while the stewardship pyramid is more detailed in what happens after someone has made a donation. By fusing the two, you have a comprehensive donor journey mapped out, from the point of learning about your organisation’s work, right through to making a major gift. 


Data-driven fundraising

Data is key to good fundraising and key to good marketing. And yet in too many organisations, fundraising data and marketing data are separated. To create a good journey, every step of the way, this data all needs to be in the same place, accessible to everyone. Once you’ve broken through the language barrier, together you can build a pyramid. (Or a funnel. It helps to decide which language you want to use in working collaboratively.) Sharing and analysing together, marketers and fundraisers can identify likely donors who are not yet donating, for example, someone who turns up at every show, and eagerly opens every email, but for some reason isn’t supporting you on a philanthropic basis - yet. 

Keeping a good database, with everything in one place, is crucial to effective fundraising and effective marketing. You’re using the data for the same thing, so make sure it’s one database which suits both. 


Consistency is key

Fundraisers and marketers alike are excellent storytellers. But it’s important to make sure that you’re telling the same story. The fundraiser will have the organisation’s case for support - has the marketer seen this? In reverse, the marketer will have a wealth of material about why you should engage with your organisation’s work - has the fundraiser seen this?

Chances are, you’re duplicating each other’s work, and telling slightly different stories. This can be confusing and outright off-putting to would-be donors, as well as creating a fundamental disconnect with every stakeholder: beneficiaries, trustees, and even the staff team. Take a bit of time to get your narratives in order and share text. A little bit of work in doing this now saves a huge amount of work for marketers and fundraisers going forward! 


The impact of integration

Four years ago, I was a marketing manager with imposter syndrome. Now, I’m confident to call myself a fundraiser. Earlier this year, the Vagina Museum had the seemingly impossible task of raising £85,000 in a major individual giving appeal - within a month! 

With my marketing hat on, I had a good handle on who was towards the top of the funnel (or the bottom of the pyramid). I also had a good handle on who was towards the top of the pyramid (or the bottom of the funnel). This made it straightforward to craft the ask for the various segments - who to ask for £1000 and who to ask for £10. 

I had the data at my fingertips to ask for the right commitments from the right people. I had a consistent story to tell about why the Vagina Museum mattered. 

We met the target, ten days before the deadline of the campaign, and exceeded our fundraising target by more than £6000.