Editor's Note: The following was written by PPF board member and Pledge to Serve program director Eddie Francis.
On a frequent basis Halima and I have marathon conversations about our professions but they go beyond what happened at work today. Quick to eschew the description of rain maker, Halima has a depth of knowledge and a wealth of insight about fundraising. Although I am no longer in PR and marketing full-time, I stay connected to the field by making observations of non-profit organizations' habits.
We agree about two major things. One is organizations would be much better off if the fundraising and PR/marketing operations worked in harmony. The second is organizations are much better off when they take a methodical, strategic approach to acquiring resources and managing their images. Non-profits and other organizations that want quick money and quick exposure often trip themselves up. There is so much more to this union between fundraising and PR/marketing, however.
There are three big areas where fundraising and PR/marketing can make real magic happen if non-profit organizations pay attention:
1. Organizational Focus
The mission is the mission is the mission. Once a non-profit strays from that, trouble starts. Where organizations create this problem the most is running after funding or promoting themselves in ways that do not represent the mission.
Yes, I know it's a $500K grant but creating a new program just to get the money is more trouble than it's worth. Yes, I know that certain TV station is the most watched in the market but changing the narrative of your organization to fit the views of that station's audience compromises what you stand for. Don't let the tail wag the dog.
If you have donors and an audience that love your message, that message is what will keep them around. In fact, donors support you because they were drawn to the message. Constituents, volunteers, board members, and media outlets were drawn to you for the same reason. Your messaging, therefore, has to be consistent. Any supplemental messages, based on situations or campaigns, should maintain that consistency.
3. Leadership Branding
Non-profit leadership has to be a reflection of the values of the organization. Unlike most big businesses, non-profit leaders are associated with the missions of their organizations. Donors and constituents support causes, and leaders are symbols of those causes. Therefore, it is important for the leader to not only be the organization's figurehead but also the beacon of hope for the cause as well as the articulate spokesperson.
At the end of the day, an organization benefits from this partnership if they keep two things in mind. First, they must treat fundraising and PR/marketing as a symbiotic relationship. Two, they must gather personalities who work well together. Harmony equals results.