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Podcast | How Collaboration Between Marketing and Fundraising Departments Can Lead to Optimal Donor Experiences

The lines between responsibilities and budgets of the marketing and fundraising departments can often blur at nonprofits. Although each department brings important and unique assets to an organization, when they align and work together, they can create a more impactful experience for constituents.

In this episode, Pursuant CEO, Trent Ricker spoke with Sue Citro, Chief Experience Officer at Best Friends Animal Society about ways leaders can encourage collaboration between the fundraising and marketing departments to create optimal stewardship experiences.

As Chief Experience Officer, Sue ensures that the marketing communications, fundraising, and experience teams are working in unison to create the best experience possible for donors and people who interact with Best Friends Animal Society. 

Where should stewardship live? 

“I lead a team that is a three-legged stool,” Sue explains. “Development is one of the legs, marketing communications is the second and experience is the third. We have stewardship pulled out from marketing and development, but we are all part of one bigger team together.” 

By pulling stewardship out of the fundraising department, Sue believes it encourages people in all departments of the organization to participate in stewardship. According to Best Friends, 4.6 million cats and dogs entered animal shelters in 2021 alone. These numbers make the work they do critically important and their focused efforts on stewardship have allowed them to gain and retain donors and volunteers. Here’s how they do it:

Sue’s Stewardship Sauce:

  • Saying thank you
    • “It is cool to say thank you,” said Sue. Taking the time to thank your donors and volunteers at all levels will make them feel valued and continue working with your organization.
  •  Emails and calls
    •  Emailing and calling donors and volunteers to say thank you is the bare minimum. Sue suggests getting creative with these calls. At Best Friends, her staff has received notoriety for their points of contact by letting constituents know exactly where their money is going by introducing the dog their donation helped keep alive for example.
  •  Engaging with new donors and keeping them as long-term donors
    •  Rather than exclusively writing to high-value donors, Sue writes thank you notes to new donors on a daily basis. She says letting them know we value them and are excited to have them there is key to retention.
  •  Creating unique experiences
    •  Creating a memorable experience for constituents is vital to every organization. At Best Friends, donors can feed pigs and regularly engage with the animals they are helping support. This leaves a lasting impact and lets them see first-hand the value of their contribution.
  • Put yourself in the constituents’ shoes
    •  If you were a donor or volunteer, how would you want to be treated? What experiences come to mind and how can you make that happen for your supporters? Sue suggests actually asking your constituents and putting their feedback into action.

Sue says keeping the constituent journey at top of mind rather than getting caught up in “what marketing does” or “what fundraising does” will lead to the best outcome. 

Listen to the full episode:

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,000 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org. 

Connect with Trent Ricker

Connect with Sue Citro

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