Back to Blakely exchange

Creating Bridges Between Brand & Fundraising to Drive Growth for Your Organization in 2021

If you are one of the lucky ones, you don’t see a need for a bridge between your organization’s brand, marketing & communications and fund development – it’s a seamless, well-oiled machine. You already know the power of the brand in enabling increased success at fundraising, and the brand team sees fundraising as mission and brand achieved in the work you do. You have synergy and you work together to build the programs and engage your audiences.

But if this does not describe you – what can you do to help create a bridge and in fact, harness the power of a successful brand and fundraising that is working together? And why should you put in the effort now?

The pandemic effect

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that a single focus across our organization has the power to galvanize our internal and external stakeholders, and the public, in building awareness and buy-in. We have seen small, local niche causes do big things during the pandemic, in their single-minded engagement of people. We have also seen brands who almost compete with themselves on messages clear the way for clarity and purpose on how they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. We saw some of the big names stop fundraising altogether early in the pandemic and find themselves unable to band their brand together and deliver a focused experience, to the detriment of fundraising.

We know that being single-minded and focused is not about the same message in every channel, in the same way. It’s about a brand platform that is the overriding position that sets the tone and focus for everything you do – and allows for the personalization and engagement each audience needs. It’s powerful and flexible, inspiring and personal and it can mean the difference between moderate success and transformation.

Even if you feel there is a fundraising and brand oil and water scenario – we have a couple of helpful strategies for moving to a perfectly blended gin and tonic.

It starts with KPI’s and goals

The truth is that your fundraising and brand have more in common than you think. Raising awareness for the need for your cause is both your objectives. Raising more revenue is everyone’s job. So why not create joint KPI’s and objectives for the year that reflect this understanding?

People don’t do things that are not measured and celebrated. So, build them and own them jointly.

Building understanding means building space for conversations

Making time to collaborate and problem solve is a challenge in this virtual world – the cooler talk is replaced with Zoom meeting after meeting, and people can feel overwhelmed or just plain burnt out – and we don’t feel this way of working will go away any time soon. Rather than one person on Zoom for an in-person meeting moving forward, we feel more and more colleagues will be on Zoom (or your video platform of choice) during meetings. So how are you building space for conversation and communications?

The only way to build a true understanding of each others’ perspectives and ideas is to talk – together, virtually. These conversations are mission critical to your organization. Are you having the right conversations with the right people? Just like you do in planning for external audiences, draw yourself an intersection map and identify all of your internal stakeholders that can and should impact your area of focus. Build a connection strategy starting with Brand & Fund development!

Change your processes

A simple change to your process of building campaigns, communications or digital content that allows for more input from key team members up front, may make the difference between success and ease of approval vs. pain and delays. An example that sticks in my mind is when we invited the key member of Brand into our campaign planning meetings well before any campaign plans were delivered.

This one change to process allowed us to understand what was key in the overarching messaging for that time period and it allowed that individual to feel a part of the process. It smoothed the way for input and approvals down the critical path!

Walk a mile

One of the keys to leadership and success in these stressful and critical times is empathy and openness to new ideas. We believe it takes everyone’s voice at the table to truly navigate the waters and stay ahead of trends, while creating new approaches to big challenges. This means that we need to stay open to everyone’s perspective and input.

To truly have empathy you need to be willing to see things from others’ perspectives as they see it (thanks Brene Brown) so ensure you are open to seeing things through a new lens. It’s helpful if you are like many of us working in not for profit marketing and you have worked in corporate brand or marketing AND fundraising, because I truly only see the power in the connections between these critical teams. So, get educated and be truly collaborative in order to see new ways to harness the mission for everyone’s benefit.

The people who benefit the most are your stakeholders and the people who are positively impacted by your critical work. Your work deserves the best from a team who is working together and building bridges to do great things!

If you want to talk more about building bridges and getting the best from Brand and Fund Development, please reach out to me at