Godzilla vs. King Kong. Alien vs. predator. Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington. These are epic matchups, full of sound and fury.
Sadly, we must add to the list communications vs. fundraising. In more than 15 years, we rarely encounter an organization where communications folks and direct marketers live in harmony. More typically we see either outright or behind closed doors hostility. It hurts both departments, neither of which have time or energy for intramural battles.
The current issue of Chronicle of Philanthropy spotlights this eternal conflict and offers some constructive suggestions for addressing it.
Author Jackie Yodashkin warns that this is not a ‘people problem,’ it is structural and embedded in organizational culture.
Yodashkin lays out some practical and useful action steps, and in so doing stresses the importance of senior leadership being involved. The absentee CEO is an all-too-common aspect of this rivalry, and without her involvement, peace is unlikely to be a lasting one.
Managers at all levels must be involved and invested in supporting the development and communications departments. These teams usually have different, often competing, goals. This leads to tension that can either improve the caliber of work or tear the teams apart.
It is critical that managers understand the tension and, when necessary, resolve conflicts before they escalate.
Personally, I’ve lived on both sides of this struggle. I was a communications director for many years before I became a fundraising consultant. I have some strong feelings on this which I will save for a later rant. Suffice it to say both sides need to learn how to communicate in a common language. Both sides need to acknowledge and respect the expertise of the other.
Godzilla and King Kong may never see eye to eye, but I still hold out great hope for your colleagues in communications and development.