Questions About Seamless Channel Integration for Fundraisers Answered
On March 2, FundRaising Success hosted a webinar titled, “Strategies for Seamless Integration Across Fundraising Channels.” Speakers included Tabetha Leinweber, director, direct marketing, Susan G Komen for the Cure; Craig Wood, founder and CEO, Clarity Group; Greg Fox, senior vice president, chief strategy officer, Merkle; and Angie Moore, general manager, nonprofit practice, Merkle.
Our speakers were able to answer a good number of questions submitted by attendees, but not all of them. Here are a few of the questions that went unanswered during the webinar and responses from some of the speakers.
Q: I am at a highly siloed organization — development, marketing/communications and IT. What are your five suggestions for creating a way forward to break down the barriers?
Craig Wood: Here are five things to do:
- Create active and visible executive sponsorship. Senior executives need to be fully invested in the change, take charge and "cascade" the changes throughout the organization. Staff needs to see an aligned, enthusiastic and cohesive management team at the core of the effort.
- Frequent and open communication about the need for change — identifying impacted groups, building awareness of the need, conveying risks of not changing, and “clear line of sight” to the business strategy that is consistent and easy to understand.
- Empower and engage staff at all levels. Successful execution and implementation will come from employees clearly understanding their unique importance and role in being customer-centric along with midlevel managers and staff who are empowered to make a difference in the organization.
- Stakeholder engagement and participation. Involve employees and stakeholders in many ways to engage them in the process, gather feedback and provide interactions that help reinforce the need for change.
- Resistance management. Do not react to resistance with surprise — expect and plan for it. Actively understand the context for resistance, and proactively work to address the concerns and issues.
Q: Integrating communications — Who should "represent" the institution when you're reaching out across channel? The only good thing about silo communications is you can identify a PERSON associated with that program, i.e., e-mails, mail, etc.
CW: Many organizations will have a relationship manager who is responsible for the donor regardless of channel. What's most important is that donors see consistency across your organization and not different people contacting them for different reasons. One brand, one experience — make the integration internal and seamless to the donor.
Q: Is it a good idea to sequester major donors from other communications from the organization?
CW: Most organizations know the most about their major donors, enabling them to produce more targeted and relevant communications to them. So it may not necessarily mean sequestering them from the rest of the organization. But it is about using the knowledge and insight you have to drive relevant and personal connection.
Q: Have you found, as we have, that donors still want to receive some real mail? Even our online-acquired donors tell us that our mail is very welcome. Curious about the ROI given rising costs.
CW: There are certainly donors who want to receive "real mail." But there are also donors who definitely do NOT want to receive it. The key is to understand and capture donor channel preference and then use that information to reach the constituents the way that they want to be reached.
Greg Fox: Yes, the fact is most people still prefer to receive direct mail, even though they may opt to respond online. Recent studies indicate that the large majority of people who give online were motivated to give through a direct-mail solicitation or another form of media. Catalog companies discovered this many years ago. Even though more and more people are buying online, it was the catalog that motivated the purchase. Do not abandon DM, unless a constituent tells you to.
Q: I am a proponent of creating comprehensive and integrated development programs. Our board and CEO believe that limiting fundraising to simply meeting with and asking wealthy people for money is the way to go. How best can I convince leadership to invest in a comprehensive and integrated development strategy?
CW: You definitely need to build a business case for this investment — one that gets buy-in from leadership and board. There are many case studies out that prove that an integrated and holistic approach to fundraising will produce measurable improvements and results. If you don't have those examples internal, then find some outside results to prove the impact.
GF: The fact is high-net-worth households comprise two-thirds of all individual charitable giving in the U.S. That being said, it's estimated that non-high-net-worth households contribute more than $75 billion to U.S. charities each year, and the most successful nonprofits understand the value of these constituents. The advancement of technology is making it easier and more cost-efficient to raise money from these segments as well. Remember, the more integrated constituents are within your organization and the more fundraising programs they support, the more valuable they are to your organization. Last year I believe that nearly $25 billion was given to charity through wills and bequest — a large percentage of which was given by non-high-net-worth individuals. Lastly, as a fundraiser you should not put all your eggs in one basket.
Stay tuned to upcoming issues of Today in Fundraising for more answers to questions submitted during the "Strategies for Seamless Integration Across Fundraising Channels" webinar. Click here for information on upcoming FundRaising Success webinars.