A Conversation on Integrated Marketing and Fundraising, Part 2
[Editor's note: This is part 2 of a three-part conversation on integrated marketing and fundraising with members of the fundraising sector's newly formed Integrated Marketing Advisory Board (IMAB). Click here to view part 1.]
Here, FundRaising Success continues its conversation with IMAB Chairman Michael Johnston, founder and president of Hewitt and Johnston Consultants (hjc), and IMAB member Sara Spivey, chief marketing officer at Convio, about the role of the IMAB and the importance of integrated marketing and fundraising in today's landscape.
FundRaising Success: What are the challenges nonprofits face in integration?
Michael Johnston: One challenge is simply definitions. Are people even talking about the same thing when they talk about integration? Is integration about channels? Is integration about departments working together? Is integration about different levels of giving being connected? Integration around fund development and non-fund development? It's kind of like three-dimensional chess. We just need to define the chess board and be comfortable together. That's part of the work that the advisory board is doing, that together right now we're trying to get some agreement on these broad themes and issues and tactics, and then hopefully that will give more focus to filling in some of these gaps. That's one of the challenges, definition itself.
Then another challenge is a lack of practitioner case studies. You see in the sector as soon as someone — say [the Humane Society of the United States] and Geoff Handy — comes out with some integrated testing, they're the kind of organization that likes to share. People grab on to that. They're so few and far between — well thought out, integrated case studies — that people are just scrambling to get them and read them. We want to see more of that out there.
Sara Spivey: The third one I'd add is even if you can practically get to a common glossary and some common processes, the tools that are available getting better. The amount of data and the amount of analysis that needs to be done to really accelerate an integrated marketing effort isn't always easy to get or easy to share. There's a whole area, and my presence on the board is really related to the right tools for the job and how you propagate tools usage, systems usage, process usage to make this easier. One of the reasons why this is kind of the Holy Grail is it's not easy to do.
MJ: Just picking up on that, another thing we're agreeing on as the advisory board is this issue of change management. Integrated fundraising, integrated marketing is going to demand that organizations change the way that they do business, whether that's governance, organizational structure, human resources, skills-training culture. In the commercial world, they've been through this, and we're just starting to go through it. The advisory board knows that that's one of the pillars we need to look at — the organizations themselves and the change-management issues around how do you become an integrated marketing organization, because for most organizations, they're not right now. So that's important, and then within that, just people — skills, development. Do people have the right skill sets to do integrated marketing? I think there's a huge gap there. We're going to take some time as an advisory board having some people take a crack at that. It can be as practical as job descriptions, and it can go much beyond that. That's going to be fun, taking a look more closely at that.
FS: What are some best practices you've seen for integrated marketing and fundraising?
MJ: I mentioned Geoff Handy and HSUS. That's a prime example of an organization that has been through organizational change driven by senior management to be more integrated. It goes from making sure the right people are in the right positions. It means senior management makes sure that the culture and even the day-to-day structure is integrated — Geoff has something called the nooner. The nooner has been an integrated meeting between cross-departmental leaders looking at different campaigns and issues. It may not even be sitting down [for a long meeting], but having a 10-minute meeting once a week or so just looking at are we integrated, how are we working better together? That organization has done a good job because senior management understood what it means to be integrated on a number of different levels, whether that's tactical channels or organizational culture. There aren't a lot of organizations that have done that. There are a lot who see integration on that tactical channel level and stick a bunch of channels together, but it's a heck of a lot more than that.