It’s easy to get distracted by “easy fix” solutions to your fundraising dilemmas, such as those offered by the newest technological advancement, internet advertising or whatever the “silver bullet” of the month may be. However, by employing an integrated approach to your fundraising, you are positioning your cause for a successful future. When you do so, you combine tested and measured results with your core mission, streamlining your message and keeping your current and potential donors at the center of your marketing communications.
To me, “integrated marketing” means using various touch points, communication streams and supporter data together to create a holistic view of each — and so the opinions and preferences of every supporter of your mission translate into a fundraising strategy appropriate for cultivating and converting those supporters to donors. Of course, every organization has a different definition of integration based on mission, size, scope, budgetary and staffing resources, database structure, and marketing strategy.
Let’s go back to the basics—the purpose of marketing is to gain awareness and financial support for your cause. A combination of traditional and constantly evolving tools should be used in the best combination possible to achieve success for your organization. In the nonprofit sector, this is not always as easy as it seems. Resources are often tight and sometimes there is pressure from a board member or donor to try a new approach that brought in $1,000,000 for another organization—one that is completely unrelated, much larger, and with more than five times your marketing budget. How do you stay mission-focused and determine the best marketing mix to get the biggest bang for your buck?
Streamline your voice
The first step to true integration is to break down internal silos and keep your messaging consistent for your supporters. You wouldn’t want to send an email related to [insert cause here] awareness month if your current social media or direct-mail campaign is focused on an annual fund appeal. Keeping your campaigns and messages consistent will enhance the clarity of your message, and using multiple channels will increase the number of touch points and strengthen awareness. Again, I know this is easier said than done. Whether you’re a small, grassroots group or a large-scale nonprofit, communications management may be spread across various personnel or even departments, making consistency difficult to realize! It is vital that all the players come to the table to understand everyone’s efforts and priorities and keep your campaigns on the same page. You know your mission better than anyone outside your organization, so maintain focus and keep your messaging clear and consistent.
In the end, it’s all about the supporter. When taking an integrated approach, you can analyze donor behavior across all channels. Do they give offline, online or both? Are they active in social networks to help build awareness and funds for your mission? Do supporters respond to action alerts and share with their friends through email or social networks? By understanding supporter behavior, you can improve your targeting approach. If a donor is giving at a higher rate online, use that as a basis for your ask string in the mail.
In this economy, everyone is strapped for cash. In turn, especially in the nonprofit arena, we are tasked to work harder and smarter with less. What is the most effective and realistic use of your resources? There are many great ideas out there, but you must consider which endeavors you can truly employ (and produce results with) while staying true to your mission.
All in all, integrated marketing is the way to go. By using the information you learn about your supporters, you can optimize the supporter experience and, in turn, raise more money, action and awareness for your cause. Success lies in understanding what works for the size, scope, mission and reality of your organization. So ask yourself –how do you define integration for your organization? Then, use the tools that are out there to improve, expand and develop your cause!
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more updates on integrated fundraising and how it can boost your year-end results.
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