A Conversation on Integrated Marketing and Fundraising, Part 3
[Editor's note: This is third and final part 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 and here for part 2.]
Here, FundRaising Success wraps up 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: How can organizations break down the silos to begin becoming an integrated organization?
Michael Johnston: My wife is a Glaswegian engineer, and as a Scottish person she said, "Effective change is a full-contact sport." Maybe she means rugby in her case. It means getting people in a room, and it's as simple as that. Change and integration doesn't happen unless you have a process to listen to people, see what the issues are, where are the barriers, and then you have to get everybody in a room. Then it's facilitating agreement — how do we realign and align properly to get this done or to do these things better? That's a strategic weakness in organizations who say we can just rearrange all this stuff on paper and with vendors, and we're going to do it.
It means getting people in a room. What's the shared reality? Do we all know that we're in the same place? If there isn't a shared reality, you can't move forward to be integrated. Is there a shared vision of the future after shared reality? Where are we going to end up? How is that better? Once you get that kind of agreement in a room, then you can start putting those tactical plans together about making the trains run better and on time.
Sara Spivey: One of the other dimensions on that that we've seen work — it's not widespread but we've certainly seen it in a few organizations — is where some of these silos have shared objectives. So as opposed to the development organization and its three areas — major gifts, individual giving, planned giving, whatever — being very individually focused on, "I've got to achieve my objectives," it's having a sense of common objectives for the organization that they all contribute to. The objective here is to raise the overall water level. Me raising my end of the boat is not going to get us where we need to be without the rest. We've seen some organizations focus on what's the overall organizational objective, and that's how you're all going to be measured. You all contribute a piece, and we see that, but we're not successful unless we're all successful. That's been pretty effective.
MJ: Part of the way that we want to emphasize and do studies and talk and produce material for the sector is from the donor's perspective. So sometimes to get around the complexity of integrated change management and integrated marketing is to say everything we're doing here to be more integrated is to look at the donor journey. A lot of organizations are saying let's look at the organizational charts, let's look at our tactics, let's look at this — man this is confusing; how do we build a better integrated marketing model? And more and more, we hear people say let's look at the life cycle of the donor. Let's look at cradle to grave what that experience is supposed to look like, what does it look like now and what do we want it to be. I often call it dramatic oversimplifications. Put somebody's life cycle and life experience with your organization on one piece of paper as the central focus for integrated marketing, and then once you've drawn that, you say, "OK, what do we got to do to make sure that we can give people this integrated experience?" You see organizations like the United Jewish Appeal in New York — they do a great job, and they've actually mapped the cradle-to-grave experience. It helps them integrate whatever they're doing.
FS: How is integration being received in the sector?
MJ: From my perspective, when I talk to the advisory board members, our clients are asking for this. More and more organizations are saying we've got to do this. In part it might be based on demographics and channel choice — Gen X, Gen Y, boomers, matures — they're all increasingly omnivorous donors in the fact that they use all channels in combination. So organizations are saying to meet the donor expectation, we need to be integrated because in the commercial sector — because every donor is a consumer — the citizen in the consumer sense is already getting a great integrated experience from a lot of companies in their retail lives. So they're turning around, and the donors are asking more and more why can't I do that? Why aren't you giving me all these choices and let me choose how I interact with you over time? Then the nonprofits hear that and march over to the agencies and this is what we're hearing, this is what we're needing, we need your help to work this out.
FS: What are the next steps the IMAB is taking to address integration in the sector?
MJ: It's all about content. With the agency partners, with the advisory board partners ready to go, they're all contributing original content to kick things off, and now we're agreeing on the gaps — where are the gaps that we can help fill in at the beginning. Then people are enthusiastically putting their hands up to say I'm going to take a crack at that gap and start collecting material and get that up.
We're excited that all of these collaborators have come together. We think we're going to help the sector and the sector is going to help itself over time.