8 Must-Do Fundraising Changes to Make Now
Now's the time to outline the right things for your organization's fundraising/marketing team to do this year. But to do it well, you have to get what's going on outside your organization as well as within it.
Review these trends with care to pinpoint the activities that work best to build relationships and response for your organization. Remember to build in a method of knowing when and how things change in the world in which you work, so you can revise your marketing to reflect them in real time.
Then build each to-do step into a 90-day work plan.
1. Integrated marketing is here to stay
Surfacing about five years ago, and an official trend since 2010, integrated marketing is here to stay. And that includes fundraising.
What is it? It's looking at all parts of how you reach out to your network as a whole across channels, format and content. A great example is the memorable Old Spice campaign (remember the guy in the shower?) that spilled consistent messages and a consistent look and feel online (Web and social media) and offline (in print and TV ads).
Plus, integrated marketing flips your traditional planning lens on its head and looks at your activities from your audience's point of view.
To do: Start small with tracking and recording every single message and campaign that goes to your base. Then analyze who gets what, and assess if that's the right approach.
Eventually you need to demolish departmental silos (marketing vs. fundraising vs. programs) marketing-wise. But take it one step at a time.
2. Social media continues to gain influence
Your use of social media is officially a must in 2013. It's where most of your prospects and supporters spend lots of digital time, and you have to be there too.
That means you need to help your leadership overcome its fears (show what your competitors do online) and find ways to actively engage on relevant platforms. If the U.S. military can do it, so can your charity.
To do: Create a social-media strategy that pinpoints the right places to be and how to get there. Move beyond your Facebook presence if that's working now.
Then integrate your social-media approach into your overall marketing plan.
Beware of the new and shiny, like Pinterest. It's vital for you to experiment to know the options, and stay engaged and learning, but that doesn't mean you put everything into play.
3. E-mail is still a core way to connect
E-mail is still the workhorse for connecting, communicating and driving action. Unlike social-media options that require participants to go there to receive your message, your opt-in e-mail lists give you permission and the conduit for outgoing communication.
To do: Although you may feel pressured or eager to go all out with social media, e-mail remains vital. Choose your channels according to where your supporters and prospects are and what you want them to do.
Use your social-media outposts to support the growth of your e-mail list, and make sure every one of your e-mails is mobile-friendly.
4. Content marketing rules the roost
Content can fuel your relationship building across platforms and devices, leading to more leads and more of the actions you need.
Although one-way outreach still has a role in raising awareness and sending prospects to your website and social-media channels, customers (including your prospects and supporters) trust content most!
To do: Provide relevant information that your prospects want, and showcase your organization's expertise and impact.
5. Mobile is a must
You can't ignore mobile without hurting your organization. Smartphones and tablets are how people communicate, consume content and research, so ensure your content is present wherever and whenever.
To do: Test your website, social channels and e-mails to make sure they're easily read, searched and interacted with by users on tablets and smartphones. If they're not, get there ASAP, beginning with the content most accessed and devices most used.
Going forward, design content, layout and navigation on all channels to work on all devices.
6. Search is how supporters navigate the Web
Navigational searches (when searchers look for your organization by all or part of your name or Web address — e.g., "Chronicle," "Chronicle of Philanthropy" or "Philanthropy.com" — rather than searching for a topic like philanthropy) still dominate the top search results. Interestingly, searchers are using fewer words in their searches due to search engine prompts based on users' past behaviors.
To do: Integrate your top keywords in all of your high-quality, original content — on every platform — that is hungrily consumed and shared.
7. Measurement is mandatory
It's no longer acceptable to dedicate an ever-growing proportion of your marketing budget to social media, content marketing and mobile without being able to measure a return on your marketing investment.
2013 is likely to bring new ways of analyzing, measuring and qualifying current and future marketing strategies, enabling us to more quickly and easily gauge ROI and the effectiveness of specific marketing strategies, plus measure what has been difficult to measure until now!
To do: Incorporate a call to action with a unique tracking code and means to capture the results. Then analyze them. That data is powerful.
The Nature Conservancy used website usage analytics to redesign its site and increased online donations by 15 percent in just five months. And Nurse-Family Partnership tracks indicators in real time so it can respond quickly to trends and offer new services, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
And last but maybe most important …
8. Integrate your data, as well as your outreach
By assessing results across all channels, you're able to combine your findings for deeper insights and even more integrated marketing that blends all channels and strategies — from social media to search optimization to e-newsletters — together for a more unified message. That leads to smarter and more effective campaigns.
To do: If you're not already looking at your data as a whole, start developing a process to do so. Because as valuable as your data is broken out into different silos (social media, SEO, e-mail, direct mail), it's much more valuable when combined and looked at as one entity.
Do right-things marketing, right now!
Nancy Schwartz is president of Nancy Schwartz & Co. and author of the Getting Attention! blog. She also is a member of the FundRaising Success Editorial Advisory Board. Reach her at email@example.com