Top 4 differences: marketing vs fundraising

Art vs Science

Marketing is both art and science. Historically, the nonprofit industry focused on the artistic side of marketing and called it “communications”. Why? Only one of the “4Ps” of marketing” (promotion) is common in the nonprofit sector.

Fundraising is both art and science. Many fundraisers focus on the art of fundraising by identifying, qualifying, soliciting and stewarding their donor pipeline.

So what about the science? The more analytical side to marketing overlaps with an analytical side to fundraising, with the same goals.


Different audiences

Marketers focus on mass communication to

  • donors
  • volunteers
  • service recipients.

Fundraisers focus on one-to-one communication with

  • major corporations
  • foundations
  • major donors.

Different skills

Personality traits of a great fundraiser:

  • people skills (listening, building relationships)
  • organized (to juggle a portfolio of donors) and disciplined to follow up
  • resilience (constantly looking for opportunities to connect donors with the non-profit)

Personality traits of a great marketer:

  • clear thinking and clear writing
  • fresh eyes (to see your nonprofit as outsiders see you)
  • balance between analytical and creative

Different work – some overlaps

Marketers create the promotional items that fundraisers use.  Marketers create the reports that measure success and set strategies for the next year.