Charities combine roles to break down barriers

Charities have traditionally seen fundraising and marketing as conflicting functions with different priorities and goals.


Both marketers and fundraisers have misunderstood the value and role the other played in the charities overarching objectives but a growing number or organisations are combining these functions into one senior role.

Fundraisers and charity branding or marketing experts have often felt territorial about what is and isn’t part of their remit but RSPCA, RSPB and WWF are just a few examples of charities trying to break down the traditional conflicts between the functions and develop more effective organisational structures.

RSPB recently appointed former Digital UK marketer Beth Thorens as its first director of fundraising and communications to create a more consistent brand and fundraising message. Elsehwhere, the RSPCA recently hired former NSPCC marketer John Grounds to the newly created director of marketing and campaign role bringing together public relations, marketing, public affairs, campaigning, fundraising, education and international work under his remit.

Vicki Browning, director of CharityComms, says that the shift recognises that marketing and fundraising are “two sides of the same coin”, adding that by bringing them together “they become greater than the sum of their parts”.

She adds: “I encourage any moves that break down silo working and stop organisational structures becoming a barrier to closer co-operation. Charities’ beneficiaries deserve close co-operation within organisations to achieve better results and better use of resources.

“A lack of brand flexibility is also often a flashpoint. Bringing the teams together will hopefully encourage a ‘one team, one target’ approach and foster more mutual understanding, greater collaboration and increased appreciation of the part each function plays.”

RSPCA’s Grounds, who was also recently named as the new chair of CharityComms, told Marketing Week that charities are realising that the biggest area of marketing spend is fundraising, so it makes sense for better internal collaboration.

He adds that having separate divisions handling communication, fundraising or public affairs can hold back a charity from communicating a coherent message.

Grounds urges more third sector organisations to consider bringing the functions together, but cautions that it’s up to each charity to decide what is right for it and that any organisational shift must reflect the organisation’s priorities.

Friends of the Earth made a similar move two years ago appointing Joe Jenkins as its first director of fundraising, communications and activism to bring each discipline in line under a unified direction.

Jenkins says the organisational change led directly to the charity’s rebrand earlier this year which he says has made its campaigns more effective.

He adds that it’s not just lobbying organisations that have to communicate a consistent message to many different groups of stakeholders that will benefit from this kind of internal shift, but bringing these functions together is the right direction for the sector.

He says: “Divisions tend to compete internally rather than complement internally and if you have that situation you get stuck with developing processes to navigate it. If you have things joined up at a senior management level you can be more effective and not bogged down with processes.”

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