Your charity's success is entirely reliant on its ability to raise funds. And how does that happen? By successfully communicating the impact your charity has. So it seems obvious just how important it is for your communication and fundraising teams to work closely together, yet so often there is a huge disconnect in this area.
Why does it matter?
Time and time again we see comms teams spending months devising the right messaging and developing a great brand for their charity, only for those messages to be diluted. This can be for a whole host of reasons: the fundraising team weren't consulted and the messages aren't in line with what they are trying to achieve, they aren't fully committed to the messaging, or that they weren't fully briefed on the messaging. Often these two teams work independently and as a result it negatively impacts the charity's brand.
An investment in your brand?
When fundraising and comms work together, it's much more likely your charity's brand will succeed. Why? Because it means everyone is making a commitment to the brand when it's being developed. This might seem like a trivial point, but it's actually crucial. It means everyone in your charity actually believes in the messages you are delivering, making the whole process much more genuine.
Using Comms to develop fundraising
Both comms and fundraising have core skills and these skills can hugely impact each other. For example, a fundraising campaign desperate to get more leads could benefit from ensuring the messaging is right. This is where the comms team can step in and offer their skills; being able to clearly communicate the charity's aims and goals. Age UK is a fantastic example of this with their 'spread the warmth' campaign. They realised a key element of their fundraising strategy was ensuring they had clear messages around the cost of warmth. This campaign started in 2011 and parts of this campaign are still in full force, such as their joint Big Knit campaign with Innocent Smoothie.
Helps to strengthen your brand
Getting support from the comms team when fundraising can help to strengthen your brand. For example rather than just sharing stories about what fundraising event you have coming up or asking people to fundraise you can start to share emotive stories about the impact your charity has had. Charity:water do this extremely well by showing what a difference having easy access to water can have on children in Nepal:
These messages help reinforce the charity's brand by showing what it is they actually do and that their efforts have a huge impact on people's lives.
How can your charity acheive this?
- Share goals - Rather than each team having seperate goals, try sharing goals. That way everyone is working towards the same outcome. For example a goal might be to grow online fundraising donations.
- Work on joint projects - Host events together, for example an event that is designed to fundraise but relies on comms to promote. This will help both teams cooperate and build trust and mutual respect.
- Understand what the other teams do - The fundraising team can't be expected to support the comms team if they don't know what it is they are doing or why they are doing it and vice versa. Each team should be involved early on in the planning/strategy stage,
- Communicate - And do it regularly! Ensure your key messages are communicated to all teams and reinforced regularly. This will help ensure everyone knows what the messages and goals are and can start living and breathing them!
- Empower - By sharing information and knowledge across teams each team will become empowered and as a result be stronger in their approach.
- Use collaborative tools - Tools like BrandStencil can help the comms team understand the needs and challenges of the fundraising team and ensure the brand doesn't become diluted. By using tools like this, organisation can ensure their key messages are included bu offer the flexibility so often needed by fundraising teams.
By fundraising and comms teams working together it's evident that charities can create more successful campaigns, help raise awareness about their causes and even increase their support and donations. Third Sector also now run a yearly conference for charities called Integrated Digital Fundraising offering practical tips and advice for how to integrate these two areas, demonstrating just how crucial collaboration is for success.