Wikipedia – the gospel for hard facts, as we all know – describes yin and yang (or yinyang or yin-yang) as ‘a concept that originated in Chinese philosophy, describing opposite but interconnected, mutually perpetuating forces’.

Now, as metaphors go, hopefully this isn’t too much of a stretch. But, for me, I see fundraising and marketing as a yin and yang (Chinese philosophy scholars, please don’t hate all over this!). Or, to look at it another way, two sides of the same coin.

Never wanting to point fingers or name names, but we have – many times over – seen fundraising and marketing teams within charities working in complete silos and not communicating, at all. And really, no blame here! Sometimes an organisation grows organically and before you know it, that’s where you’ve ended up.

But, they cannot be separated – they are integral to one another. If you’re a charity, you can’t fundraise to the best of your ability without using marketing (in most cases) as the medium to promote your fundraising activity. And, as a charity, you cannot market without fundraising being a central consideration behind your communications.

So, what can you do if you find your organisation in such a pickle?

1. Come together. Talk. Lay it all out in the open.

Enable a safe space for everyone to speak freely without fear of reprisal. Be honest about needs, areas of conflict or overlap, required outcomes, targets and ambitions. And, don’t forget to be positive. Both teams are doing so much good stuff – so capitalise on that. Remind yourselves of all the fantastic achievements of the past to set in motion renewed passion and commitment for this future of collaboration. Lastly, remember the charity’s mission because it’s your mission to enable it, whether you wear a marketing or a fundraising hat. Hold an image of the people you support front and centre in everything you do.

2. Stay together. Literally.

We’ve seen teams that work in different rooms, on different floors or at opposite ends of a huge room. Some come into the office on opposite days. Others work remotely and never the twain shall meet. Let’s mix this up. Can you work together in the same space? Is it possible? If not, why not? What’s stopping you? Of course, logistically and spatially this isn’t always achievable. But, where it is – do it. And where it isn’t, ensure you make regular time every week – more than once, if needed – to discuss, to plan, to adjust, to improve. Let this be sacred time that doesn’t get moved or postponed. Whoever is in, attends. They be the rules. Oh and go to the pub sometimes, be friends!

3. Learn together.

Share your knowledge and the reasons for your actions. Knowing the whys and wherefores makes accommodation all the easier. If you’re a fundraiser, teach your marketing colleagues about donor recruitment, donor journeys and stewardship, and about the timing of financial asks. If you’re a marketeer, show your fundraising colleagues that not all calls to action are financial. Teach them about building a brand, building a narrative, building engagement and interactions; how vital it is your charity holds its own and stands out amongst all the competition.

4. Plan together.

Share your calendars. Or have a super calendar! Be willing to flex and adjust around the greatest need and impact for the charity (egos be gone)! Share your resources and save time. Both marketing and fundraising teams have access to the incredible stories of beneficiaries, so share your case studies and utilise them where works best.

And what if you don’t do any of this? Well, at worst, a lack of collaboration and communication will undoubtedly cause confusion to supporters, donors, eventers and community fundraisers. You’ll miss chances and potentially annoy your community. More than likely you’ll lose donors and money.

And if you do? At best, you’ll be a streamlined powerhouse of shared knowledge with your supporters’ best interests at the heart of everything you do. You’ll save money and resources. You’ll be better placed to grasp opportunities; your community will know exactly what your charity does and how best to support you – and they’ll love you for it. You’ll have more donors that stay with you and therefore more income. What’s not to like?!

So now, back to my tenuous yin-and-yang metaphor. What would the Chinese philosophers of old say about all this? Well, outrageously, I’m going to assume they’d agree with me. Fundraising and marketing are most definitely complementary forces that, together, really can interact to form a dynamic super team. The whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.


director of business development