I just spoke to an old friend, who wanted Juno Consulting to help her implement a terrific idea for building traffic to her organization by linking the organization’s project to a middle school curriculum. She knows the teacher, the principal, and a couple of board members at their foundation. But she called me, because she thinks she needs a grant to implement it.

Well, wait a minute, I said. You don’t need a grant because that’s got built-in revenue, and you can mostly do it using social media. It’s going to pay for itself and then some. Have you spoken to Marketing Guy?

Oh, she said, he’s not going to do this.

Turns out Marketing Guy doesn’t think it’s marketing unless it involves a print advertisement, Constant Contact, and direct mail postcards. (Of course why MG and not the Executive Director gets to make this call is another whole issue. Don’t get me started.) But it brings up a legitimate question about what tactics to use when trying to decide whether it’s “development” or “marketing.” Try asking yourself these questions:

Is the project for doing good, or for raising revenue?

If you’re trying to do good, and revenue is secondary to or absent from that goal, then it’s fundraising. Conversely, if you’re just trying to sell stuff, it’s marketing. If it’s both, then look at the timeline and see how you can plan out a coordinated approach that takes advantage of both.

What is your timeline?

If you need the project to happen in the short term, it’s marketing, unless you’ve got an angel up your sleeve. Even if you’re right on top of the grant proposal deadline, a grant is not going to come through for months.  You can market it using a fundraising approach, for instance a quick-turnaround direct mail or targeted fund appeal, but if you need money quick, you need to think of it as marketing, where the quid pro quo is on the surface and the reward to the donor or patron is immediate and concrete. (This isn’t a bad goal for a fundraising campaign either, but it’s critical for marketing.)

Does the project have income potential?

As far as I’m concerned, if your project has a ticket price, membership, merchandise or other retail-style revenue stream, it’s marketing. This does not mean you can’t get a grant for your community theater. But a project with a revenue stream is the Holy Grail of not-for-profit. Market it.

What’s the best way to get the word out?

If your project can raise money using either traditional or social media, it’s marketing. If your project will benefit more from traditional fundraising tactics like grant proposals, donor meetings and the like, then it’s fundraising. If it can benefit from both approaches, you just won development bingo.

Personally, I believe that all fundraising has a strong marketing component. A lot of marketing would be stronger if salespeople and advertisers would incorporate such basic fundraising principles as impact and customer benefit. At the very least, your marketing and your fundraising efforts should support, reflect and compliment each other. Both departments have the same goal: to increase revenue so that you can pursue your mission.

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