How To Build Bridges Between All Nonprofit Departments And Marketing

When a nonprofit has a fundraising event on the horizon, it’s very common to follow an all-hands-on-deck approach. Staff is limited, resources are limited, and funding is limited, so you need the help of everyone in the organization. Job titles don’t matter, department roles don’t matter, job descriptions don’t matter – it’s one for all and all for one.

How do we keep this momentum going after the event is over?

And, how do we build bridges between all of our different departments within the nonprofit and our marketing and communications department?

Employee Collaboration

Strong collaboration between nonprofit departments begins with employee involvement.

Nonprofit marketing is an essential function contributing to the sustainability of a nonprofit. Whether we label the function as fund development, fundraising, donor relations, community relations – regardless of the title we give the function – we are marketing our work to important audiences. We are telling our story in a way that resonates with the audience.  The key question then becomes… Is everyone else who works for the nonprofit delivering our services in a way that positively impacts our message and mission?

How do we ensure that everyone who works for the nonprofit keeps in mind our message and our mission when interacting with internal and external audiences? Building a bridge between each department and marketing boils down to two essential steps.

1. Involve all employees in the process of marketing

Each of your employees has their own personal and professional networks. They also have their own reason for working for the nonprofit. Of course, they see the value the nonprofit brings to the community and to clients, but do they see how their role directly affects the role of marketing?

The term ‘The Domino Effect’ is a clear way to describe how what one employee does affects the marketing department. When employees have a clear understanding of how they affect the outcomes of the work of the nonprofit, they are able to better contribute to outcome success.

A Domino Effect Example: A job candidate calls to follow up on an application they submitted two weeks ago.

Here are a few employee interactions that affect this scenario:

  • How courteous and friendly the receptionist is when answering the phone.
  • How polite and informative the Human Resources representative is when addressing the inquiry.  Are they living up to the ‘excellent company culture’ that was described as one of the benefits of working with the nonprofit?
  • Is the email correspondence the applicant receives rigid and formal – such as ‘dear applicant’, or is it personalized and a true representation of a great company culture?

How employees within each department interact with internal and external audiences has a domino effect on the marketing outcomes of a nonprofit. In the example above, if the job candidate is treated rudely or somehow gains a poor impression of the nonprofit, they may share about the experience with their network. Their poor experience could easily reach the ears of business partners, donors, or volunteers.

To help employees understand how their work affects the business, a good exercise would be to have them to write all the possible ways they come in contact with internal and external audiences.  Do the paths of their interactions ever lead to the ears of business partners, donors, or volunteers? When employees see how they contribute to or impact the business, they have a better understanding of the importance of always acting professionally.

2. Share the marketing goals with employees

What are your nonprofit’s marketing goals? Does everyone on the team know about these goals?

If one of your goals is to grow the donor base by 10 percent by yearend, does everyone on the team know how you are approaching this goal? Have you asked for their ideas and input?

Remember, your employees each have their own personal and professional networks. They know firsthand the importance of the work your nonprofit is doing. and therefore employees are often the strongest advocates for soliciting support. With a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and why, employees can keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to help.

How has your nonprofit worked to create bridges between the marketing department and other departments within the nonprofit?

Meet us in the comments and share your ideas.

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