The Nonprofit Fundraising Plan & How to Integrate it With Your Marketing Plan

Recently, we’ve been working with more and more marketing directors who are also responsible for fundraising. It makes sense: successful marketing plans are those that are tied closely to nonprofit fundraising plans.

Whether or not your responsibilities span both marketing and fundraising, integrating your nonprofit fundraising plan and your marketing plan leads to the best results. Here’s how:

Integrating your nonprofit fundraising plan and your marketing plan leads to the best results. Click To Tweet

Look for Areas Where Fundraising and Marketing Already Align

As you begin to consider marketing through the lens of your nonprofit fundraising plan, you’ll need to understand your organization’s fundraising landscape. What are your organization’s current fundraising initiatives? Can any of them be highlighted in your marketing as a way to further engage your audience and drive fundraising?

We recently worked with Chicago Methodist Senior Services (CMSS) to launch their new Good Days program, in which supporters can donate $25 to fund a “Good Day” — a special experience for a resident living in one of the CMSS assisted living or memory care communities. The program, which launched at CMSS’ Spring Benefit Brunch fundraiser, is an ideal one for pairing marketing and fundraising. Every granted Good Day is also a moving story that draws in the organization’s audience and offers them the chance to help create the next Good Day or give a donation to support CMSS’ mission more broadly. The anecdotes created by Good Days are also perfect for sharing on social and on the CMSS blog.

Does your organization have a similar program? If not, your marketing and fundraising team should brainstorm a unified marketing strategy centralized around your nonprofit fundraising plan. If your organization is raising funds but has no way to show how they’re used, you’re missing out on a chance to prove the value of your donors’ support and to build stronger emotional connections with existing and potential donors.

Use Your Nonprofit Fundraising Plan to Build Your Marketing Strategy

Your nonprofit fundraising plan should already answer some key questions, such as:

  • What are your fundraising goals for the year?
  • What portion of your funds for the year do you estimate will come from:
    • Private donors?
    • Public or private grants?
    • Corporate giving or gift-matching?
    • Fundraising events?
    • Other sources?
  • How and where does your organization plan to reach these funders?

Each of these aspects of your nonprofit fundraising plan should directly inform your marketing strategy and goals.

The answer to that last question (about how you will reach funders) is where fundraising and marketing are most closely tied. To create successful marketing messages, you need to identify your audience and tailor your message to each segment of that audience. Impactful fundraising requires the same understanding of your potential donors and the messages that can move them. Similarly, both marketing and fundraising must identify the best media through which to reach your audience.

If you have an existing marketing strategy that does not tie back to your fundraising goals, it’s time to adjust your plans so that they work together.

Create One Donor Communications Plan for Both Fundraising and Marketing

While marketing leads the charge on most interactions with your audience, donor communications can be a gray area for many nonprofits. Who in your organization is currently responsible for communicating with donors — development or marketing? It’s possible you’ll find a mixed bag, with fundraising and marketing both speaking to donors in different circumstances and through different means.

Your marketing plan should clearly lay out when the development team reaches out to donors and when the marketing team does so. It should also guide how each team can amplify the other’s work, instead of getting in each other’s way. As a result, you can create a streamlined marketing and communications plan that presents one united organization to your donors.

In your plan, be specific. Lay out how donor engagement will be handled on social media, in inbound marketing and in traditional tactics like direct mail. Define the key messages that matter to your audience for both marketing and fundraising.  

Determine the Marketing Tactics that Match Your Fundraising Goals

As you develop the tactical parts of your marketing plan, refer back to your nonprofit fundraising plan and fundraising data from past years. Are there seasons when certain types of fundraising perform best, or certain messages that have shown the best ROI?

Shape your new marketing tactics accordingly. Consider how you can promote fundraising’s annual events or ongoing programs in a way that fits with your overall marketing strategy. Plan your monthly marketing tactics, even those that are not aimed at current donors, to line up with major fundraising pushes and events. This will help you build a consistent brand voice and emphasize the things that matter most to your nonprofit.

Show the Connection Between Fundraising and Marketing

When presenting your marketing plan to your organization’s leadership, be sure to show how it ties to fundraising goals. In order to receive buy-in on your marketing budget and initiatives, you need to show how they tie to fundraising goals, both directly and indirectly. The fundraising team benefits too, since this helps establish fundraising as a central priority across your organization’s messaging.

No one benefits when fundraising and marketing are siloed. Combining your nonprofit fundraising plan and marketing plan from the start is key to connecting these key aspects of your organization.