Chief Development & Marketing Officers Cage Match Yields Department Restructure

Recently I met with a client—one of the top 10 healthcare nonprofits in the U.S. I asked for a meeting with its marketing and donor acquisition staffs. Much to my surprise, this was the first time this group had been brought together in the same room.

At another client, recently an entire layer of the marketing department had been released, with new personnel being brought into the development department to do marketing.

At yet another client, the development officer is finding that the marketing officer is making decisions once in her purview. She doesn’t like it very much.

To tell the end of the story first, our technology has outgrown our organizational chart, and it is making life hell.



Our traditional org chart hasn’t changed much since marketing departments emerged as part of the organizational structure. With the advent of digital, we simply built out a subset of the marketing department. In that organizational chart, the marketing department’s job, in most organizations, is to deliver the opportunity for a soft landing for sales work, a great facade, lots of brand impressions, brand awareness and other hard-to-measure benefits.

In today-speak, marketing’s job is called “inbound.” The marketing department’s job is to create “inbound” interest. Then fundraising (or sales if you are for-profit) should create specific opportunities and raise money (or close the sale).

Things have changed. The line between fundraising/sales and marketing is getting muddy. Nowhere is that muddiness more apparent than in peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising. For many years, peer-to-peer departments have struggled to get along with marketing directors as they began to use the traditional tools of marketing directors’. Email campaigning is the most notable of the tools causing conflict.

The P2P department had their own email tool, and it lived in its P2P online platform, far out of reach of the marketing department. Marketing wanted access and oversight over that tool, seeing it as a way to deliver on its responsibilities to the organization.

A symptom of the technology/org chart misalignment are the many relationships that have been hurt by marketing and fundraising professionals in conflict. They fought, and fight now, over how messaging should be designed and deployed from the online fundraising platform. “Who owns that?” is the question.

In for-profit-speak, the P2P department is engaged in sales, not inbound interest creation. The use of the same kind of email campaigning tool the marketing department uses was and is confusing from the outside because it looks like the P2P department is using an “inbound” tool. But they aren’t engaged in “inbound.” They are fundraising.

So, for the last 10 or so years, this conflict has been brewing, contained—when it was contained—by smart people leading departments who worked closely with other department heads.

All hell is about to break loose now.

That line between fundraising (sales) and marketing just got a lot muddier. There is an acceleration of the restructure or entire dissolution of traditional departments on the organization chart.

The culprit? Automated marketing. To help understand automated marketing, let’s compare traditional (inbound) marketing to automated marketing. Inbound is a megaphone. The louder the megaphone, the more prospects you can touch. Inbound marketing is accomplished with a lot of tools:

  • Billboards

  • Print

  • Digital advertising/social media

  • Email campaigning

  • A lot more ways

Let’s focus on email marketing, as it is the simplest comparison on the automated marketing front. Inbound marketing using email has looked like this: use segmentation and variable data then email blast, measure, send email blast, measure, etc.

Automated marketing using email looks like this: use segmentation and variable data then send email blast, measure response individually, respond individually, and rinse and repeat until sale/acquisition is made.



Automated marketing is sonar. Inbound is a megaphone.

I’m using email marketing as the example, and I’m going to stick with it for this blog. But, trust me, there’s more functionality. Lots of people are saying it; there’s more. (Oh heavens, sorry, got political there for a moment.) The point is, automated marketing is more like sonar—you send out a signal, and through various channels, you hear “pings” back from your audience.

And those “pings” back? Pings look like a sales relationship, or fundraising as the case may be. Pings mean you are forming (digitally but still forming) relationships that yield sales/fundraising. If something is yielding sales, that department wants ownership, since the department’s performance metrics depend on those things.

Now, inbound can’t go away. We need it. But the hard line between marketing and sales/fundraising must go. Traditional organizational charts must go. Metrics have to be redefined. Goals have to be redefined. It’s a brave new world. Nobody is in development. Nobody is in marketing. We are all in sales.

Next week, more on that devil in a blue dress—automated marketing.