Breaking Down the Silos: Organize Around Audiences, Not Departments
[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from "The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising," the 131-page report from DirectMarketingIQ. It includes nine chapters, from leading fundraisers, on channel selection, messaging, direct mail, e-mail, mobile, social media, multichannel renewal, multichannel testing and more. It also features eight multichannel case studies on successful campaigns.]
In some cases, the nonprofit sector is as siloed as any other industry. And it’s natural! If you hire a direct-response or media- and corporate-relations expert, by default that’s what she does. It takes a special charity, leader or advocate within the marketing teams to fight to connect the dots. But when you have a few successes under your belt, it can be magic.
Every group is/can be organized differently, but consider the below if you’re building or have the opportunity to influence the structure of your outbound communication/fundraising teams:
Organize around audiences — not departments
It’s easy to get lost in data. Step away from the spreadsheet (for now) and allow yourself to think big. In looking at the organization chart, you can give yourself the freedom in general terms to talk about your audience as member (development), mass (corporate partners/creative services) and media (PR and public affairs).
If each business unit head comes in feeling it’s his/her responsibility to drive donations in his/her own medium, you’ve won half the battle.
Obviously, development will always drive the most income, but what if you found that a partnership with the media team leads to 15,000 e-mail captures and those 15,000 converted at two or three times the rate of purchased or appended e-mail addresses? All of a sudden that partnership becomes a very important one to the success of development.
Plot your audiences in the same broad swaths early on. Let’s make up a charity for the purposes of this exercise. Let’s say your charity is supporting the rights of aliens who have landed on our planet from a galaxy far, far away and existed in peace with earthlings for 50 years. Now we need to fight discrimination and help give them basic rights.
So, I'm a fundraiser having a mid-life crisis. And that's perfectly fine with me.
I am taking time to look around, lift my head and find REAL people who really want to change the world. And people smart enough to do it. Join me in this fun journey. I have no idea where we will end up - and that is the beauty of it. I'm nonprofit passionate, a hopeful world changer, and always ready to share what I know, learn what I don't, admit when I can't, and ask the hard questions.
While you're looking around for other areas of inspiration, check out The Moth Project at themoth.org (the podcasts are AMAZING), TED talks (doesn't matter which ones - find topics that interest you) and Volunteer Voices (again - love the podcast) written by volunteers from the Peace Corps. Don't see the immediate connection to being a better fundraiser? Just listen, you'll hear the message ...