With federal, state and local budgets and funding dwindling, it’s more important than ever for community colleges to raise more money. Those most likely to achieve fundraising goals are the marketing and fundraising professionals on campus. .
Marketing and fundraising? Indeed. Collaborating to achieve fundraising goals? Absolutely. It’s imperative that these college counterparts work together, and when done right, their joint efforts can result in measurable outcomes. Here are examples of how the marketing and fundraising teams at a top U.S. community college have collaborated to achieve fundraising success.
When the college and foundation decided to embark upon a major donor campaign, they began with an in-depth initial planning meeting. The college hosted a dinner for foundation board members, and the college’s fundraising and marketing teams were invited to attend. At the meeting, board members and the college marketing and fundraising teams collaborated to determine the campaign theme.
Once the campaign theme was established, the marketing team went to work to design several campaign logo options and other collateral. The college’s fundraisers were among the key colleagues who ultimately selected the logo that is currently being used.
The campaign has already achieved two of its four fundraising goals – with 2½ more years to go.
Days of Giving
The college plans a Day of Giving each year. The marketing team takes on the communication to donors, social media, web technology, photography and videography. Fundraisers oversee the event logistics and the fundraising.
The teams collaborate throughout the planning period in a variety of ways. For example, the fundraisers meet monthly and invite the marketing team to attend some of the meetings to discuss the project. The teams also have full-day retreats throughout the year, and mutual projects have prominent positions on the agendas.
The Days of Giving have been consistently successful, with more than $100,000 raised each year.
When the college used to host its annual golf tournament, the troops were rallied to ensure fundraising goals were met. The marketing team and fundraisers were required to assist with and attend the event. The marketers handled the website and printed program in preparation for the event. The fundraisers were responsible for planning the event and securing sponsorships. On the day of the event, the marketing professionals posted on social media sites and videotaped donors about why they support the college, and the fundraisers greeted and interacted with donors.
With cross-team collaboration, the events netted more than $100,000 each year.
A few years ago, when the college decided to overhaul its foundation website, the fundraisers were the subject-matter experts and, thus, provided the website content. In turn, the marketing professionals ensured the content appealed to donors and recommended that video testimonials be included on the website.
The website usage statistics have steadily increased – special features like donor lists, vibrant design and an online giving option have proven to appeal to donors.
The college revolutionized its scholarship program by investing in an online scholarship management system. Fundraisers oversaw the debut of the new system, and the marketing team helped to promote it to students and donors.
While fundraisers know that most donors are well-versed about scholarships, the marketing team realized that some first-generation community college students may not be familiar with the word “scholarships.” Therefore, the marketing team uses the phrase “free money” to indicate that scholarships aren’t loans and don’t have to be repaid.
A record number of scholarships have been awarded since the new system debuted, and the results of annual surveys to scholarship recipients and scholarship reviewers are overwhelmingly positive.
“Secret Sauce” in Leveraging the Talents of Marketing and Fundraising Professionals
High-performing, collaborative, creative and yes, quirky marketing and fundraising teams can create magic together – no matter your college’s organizational structure. What’s the secret? You need progressive leaders and willing colleagues who put the college and its students first.
More suggestions to consider:
- Designate a fundraiser and marketer to be “joined at the hip” for special projects.
- Ask fundraisers to “test” fundraising-related content with marketers, and ask marketers to test communication with fundraisers.
- Invite fundraisers and marketers to attend foundation board meetings.
- Share mutually beneficial articles, books and webinars with both teams.
- Share videos of student testimonials with both teams to remind them of the mission.
Yes, teamwork between marketing and fundraising professionals makes the dream work. And most important, this joint effort helps ensure that students are able to realize their dreams.