3 Simple Steps to Break Down Silos for the Greater Good


By Kathy Swayze

August 12, 2020

In the era of integrated marketing and donor-centric communications, why are so many organizations still dealing with siloed decision-making structures that crush revenue opportunities? As a fundraising professional, you may be weary of bumping your head up against those same silo walls. But there are signs of hope.

Forward-thinking organizations are increasingly adding a “development communications” staff position to their fundraising teams. This person is not a novelist; she is a creative, results-oriented marketing professional.

Planned giving communications are also getting a fresh new makeover – using direct marketing best practices such as modeling, personalization, and targeted messaging by segment to generate more leads. Development and communications departments are increasingly collaborating on branding, fundraising case statements, and other messaging. And, Impact is regularly called on to train staff across ALL departments on how to find and share powerful stories of impact. We love helping people dig for the storytelling gold that exists within their organization.

But what can you do if the silos are really entrenched at your organization? What if the marketing director isn’t a team player? If the communications director doesn’t want to coordinate calendars?

If you are inspired to tear down silos in your organization, for the greater good of your fundraising bottom line, here are three simple steps you can take today to improve your organization’s fundraising messaging.

  1. Manage up.

Have a conversation with your boss or chief executive about what makes fundraising communications different. Explain that while the communications team is focused on reporting past successes, fundraising must be FUTURE-focused. Share articles like this one, and suggest regular cross-departmental meetings between marketing, communications, and fundraising departments to share stories and content updates.

  1. Be generous.

Talk to your colleagues on the other side of those silo walls and learn about their needs. Ask how you can help them achieve their goals and tell them about yours.

  1. Find your common stories.

You need good stories that make your donors feel warm and fuzzy about supporting your organization. The communications team needs them, too. Consider creating a cross-departmental story team focused on identifying stories, conducting interviews, and beginning to create a central story bank for the organization.

Most of all – keep the faith! Collaboration in messaging is a win-win. It helps raise the organization’s profile and raise more money.

Be bold. After all, if your organization depends on the funds you raise, then getting your marketing, communications, membership, and development teams on the same page is essential. When you all get along, you can change the world even faster.

-Kathy Swayze, CFRE

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