Integration Strengthens Fundraising Initiatives
It wasn’t too long ago we were told that direct mail was going to be completely overtaken by the Internet; and as little as five years ago, nonprofit organizations’ Web sites and direct-mail materials reflected that message. Today, with the explosion of online groups and social networks, tactics to reach current and prospective donors are expanding yet again. While it may be fun to speculate about marketing trends, which methods are actually best to secure a nonprofit’s fundraising future?
Donor outreach is not just a single-layer approach anymore; it’s about integrating new media with tried-and-true communications practices while being very careful to ask donors for their preferred delivery methods. Nonprofits need to adapt their marketing tactics based on the resources available to them, and blend their messages to maximize the impact of integrated marketing. This is critical to not only developing a core donor base but also planning a lasting, creative strategy. Marketing should use the breadth of techniques at its fingertips to strengthen the organization’s brand as well as build the overall community network.
Integrated campaigns are about just this — building the right donor relationships at the right time and in the right way. Lessons learned have shown organizations that they can’t just plunge into new donor pools and immediately create paths for their participation. Personalizing outreach is key to cultivating relationships, converting target audiences into true ambassadors — and ensuring fundraising for the future.
Following are some tips to help nonprofits realize the vision and value of integrated marketing campaigns, as well as support fundraising efforts:
1. Use your Web site to its fullest.
The Internet is a critical medium, and the look and feel of an organization’s site should engage the target audience, not push it away. Many organizations have put off purchasing a content-management system; however, this essential function, which is tied to the database, can allow you to maximize the impact of creative content. Today’s CRM systems are enabling nonprofits to tailor online content to their customers based on individual interests. Web sites also can help organizations understand who’s interested in what and maintain information on customer preferences. Creative Web designs also should be included in an organization’s marketing storyboards. It’s important that a nonprofit’s Web site reflects the expertise and professionalism of its mail pieces.
2. Explore the potential of integrated social-media marketing.
A small, nonprofit theater group in Toronto recently used Facebook as a tool to promote its shows. As giving through ticket sales increased, the audience size grew, and the network exponentially increased with every event. Organizations should work on understanding how social media works and embrace the technology. Conducting a CRM data screening is a good way to discover who is active on different social-networking sites.
All of this information can be utilized to support and grow an organization’s own social-networking program, such as creating a MySpace group for different areas of interest and participation within the organization.
3. Make peer-to-peer fundraising a fundamental component of your integrated campaign strategy.
Organizations should take inventory of their current communication tactics (e-mail, direct mail, etc.), and examine the messaging. Has it been watered down to reach a broad audience? Peer-to-peer outreach allows an organization to maintain the core messaging but enable donors to personalize the message for their own networking and recruitment efforts.
4. Take advantage of all the tools your CRM system offers.
About five to 10 years ago, many nonprofits realized that donor-management systems can do more than just track dollars collected. Organizations must investigate these tools to make sure that their systems meet the needs of their fundraising initiatives. The impact of integrated marketing campaigns can be monitored through donor renewal rates (how many make second, third or fourth gifts), lifetime values (how much the average supporter is worth to you in her giving life) and recruitment method (direct mail, Web site, etc.). Knowing what key performance indicators are and what information they provide is more critical now than ever before.
5. It’s not just about paper anymore; cutting-edge technology can provide a host of ways to improve and support traditional marketing tactics.
Organizations need to plan creative marketing strategies to ultimately achieve their donor acquisition and retention goals. Integrated campaigns require targeted approaches blended with tried-and-true communications that are supported by CRM and content management solutions that maximize the potential of the Web and all that networking technologies have to offer. The integration of all these solutions with strong creative content will strengthen an organization’s fundraising programs.
Sarah Hoddinott is a fundraising product manager with the Alexandria, Va.-headquartered nonprofit software provider Advanced Solutions International.