I never thought I'd be the person who stopped counting calories and who starts her day with meditation and a green smoothie — you want me to put what in a blender and drink it? — but here I am. I even work with a holistic health coach, who is helping me clear the crap from my body and mind in order to feel, think, function and (OK, I admit it) look my best.
Maybe it's the crowd I run with, but the word "holistic" seems to be cropping up everywhere. After 35 years of depriving myself in every way possible for the sake of my "health" (read: dress size), I apparently am really ready to embrace something real and sustainable … something whole.
But health isn't the only thing that benefits from the holistic approach. More and more, practitioners in the nonprofit fundraising sector are recognizing that silver bullets (as related to fundraising, anyway) don't exist; that no channel or strategy (no matter how shiny and new) can stand alone; and that the one and only Next Big Thing was, is and always will be — Wait. For. It. — integration.
But as fundraising continues to evolve, I think we've moved even beyond the notion of multichannel integration. We've gone holistic. Or should.
More than just finding ways to seamlessly integrate the many channels your nonprofit uses to engage with donors and solicit funds — which, of course, is essential — a holistic fundraising approach steps back even further and looks at the even bigger picture. For example:
- Within the fundraising department itself, there's more cooperation among the various channel staffs — direct-mail folks aren't afraid to turn over the names of potential major donors to the major-gifts folks, etc.
- Departments within the organization are working together more cooperatively. The relationship among fundraising, programs and marketing/communications is becoming more integrated so that messaging is clear and consistent across the board, and there isn't a sense of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
- And the biggie is a more well-rounded relationship with donors. Instead of treating them as walking ATMs, the emphasis is on relationship rather than manipulation. Key elements of this are giving supporters plenty of ways to support you, even if they don't all involve money, and seeing the value in each of them (again, even if it doesn't mean an immediate influx of cash); meeting them where they are and letting them decide the best ways to communicate with you; and empowering donors not only to give to you but to put their time and talents to work for you too.
From where I sit up in the cheap seats (as in not running a fundraising department or a development office), sometimes it's a little easier to see the whole playing field than when you're closer to the action. The sector seems to be trending toward the non-trend. And while that might take as much getting used to as drinking pulverized kale in the morning, in the end it's going to clear out the muck in your organization's thinking and give your fundraising that healthy glow you've been looking for.