Creating a Fundraising Cocktail
Integration was a definite buzzword at the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2007 Annual Washington Nonprofit Conference last month, along with multi-channel, mid-level and benchmarking. On the first day of the conference there were three sessions that focused specifically on integrating channels.
In one of those sessions, “Integration: When 2+2=5 and How to Get Those Results,” Jeff Regen, vice president of online marketing and communications for Defenders of Wildlife, discussed some of the challenges DOW has had integrating its fundraising channels, and recommended some “good” practices based on its experiences.
The objectives of DOW’s online efforts, Regen said, are fundraising, advocacy/activism, education and list growth. The organization has more than 500,000 e-subscribers, sends an average of two full-file e-mails to subscribers each week, and raised $2 million online in fiscal year 2006. DOW’s online donors often migrate to offline channels fluidly, but not vice versa. The organization wanted to create a program that integrated its online, direct mail and telemarketing channels, enabling increased fluidity among channels for its donors/prospects.
Regen detailed the steps DOW went through on the road to channel integration, which are shown below, along with some “good” practices he recommended might work for other organizations going through the same process:
Step 1: Build integrated online/direct mail/telemarketing programs.
Good practices: Actively recruit e-mails for offline donors/prospects and place them in the e-mail stream ASAP; drive offline donors/prospects to your Web site to donate, take actions, find information and engage with your organization; place online donors in the direct-mail stream ASAP.
Step 2: Data synchronization. He stressed that this can be time consuming, complex and expensive.
Good practices: Prepare senior management for a painful process, consider contacting a consultant to help and create a budget cushion; define which elements are critical to synchronize and which ones would be nice to have, and make sure everything planned will have a positive ROI; define expectations clearly with all vendors and make sure all parties involved are on board; consider delaying this step.
Step 3: Create common reporting/metrics. Typically, online and offline reporting is on separate platforms, he said, with no integrated view of donors and activists.
Good practices: Evaluate the cost/benefit of creating a unified supporter view; get data on one platform; evaluate apples to apples.
Step 4: Politics and organization structure. Often, staff will become possessive of the names on a channel’s list.
Good practices: At minimum, staff managing the various channels must coordinate; designate a coordinator for online activities; create an online department that owns all online activities but cooperates closely with other departments.
Jeff Regen can be reached via www.defenders.org.