Are Fundraisers Really Ready for Insight? Do You Have a Story?
Folks, the data is out there and available — so why is it not being used in more strategies? Below are my thoughts on the answer to this question AND some solutions to the "problems":
It’s not in my comfort zone: I'm calling everyone out on this. It's not just something that affects industries — there is a bit of human nature playing into things here. You HAVE decent results with small increases every year in the key metrics. Why change? Why take on something that really seems to confuse your meetings every year to develop strategy? Let's face it — getting outside of our comfort zones is just something people don't like. Trust me, in 2003 I took a job to lead the customer relationship management initiative (from a marketing perspective) of a major nonprofit. This caused me great discomfort, but in the end I was curious about this thing called relationship management. I didn't know that it wouldn't work, so who was I to stick my head in the sand and act like it might not work? Well, as I read the agendas of some of today's top conferences and learning experiences, the words "integrated" and "relationships" are in almost every description. In other words, just because we don't understand something or know that it works doesn't mean that it is the wrong direction.
- My solution if you are an agency leader: I want you to appoint someone on your team to dig in to the external insight environment. If you already have access to external insight and use it with your clients, call me because we can present together (or your client can present with me). But my guess is there are a lot of agencies out there that use expanded RFM and modeled RFM. There is much more to the picture. There are personality clusters to create, as well as buying behaviors and attitudinal data points that can help you understand donors, members and volunteers much better. I believe our industry is just uncomfortable when we get outside of RFM. I am willing to give blog space to any agency that can tell a story of using true external data to drive new thinking, better messaging and deeper segmentation. To break down the discomfort, we must get the stories out. I have plenty but don't want to be self-serving with my own agency so let me hear from yours!
- My solution if you are a nonprofit: I get it. Trust me, I do. I've been in your shoes. I haven't wanted to rock the boat. I certainly haven't wanted to take on more expenses when my budget was tight. But things are changing. While I know most nonprofits still use direct mail as their primary mass market touch, the digital world is changing how consumers interact and what they expect. They are already telling us a nonpersonalized experience feels bad to them. What if you could understand more about your donors by looking at their buying behaviors and attitudes about certain life issues — things that you cannot understand by just looking at recency, frequency and monetary amounts? To add further complication, I understand that many agencies are not really comfortable outside of RFM or modeled RFM plus they know how tight your budget is. You must push the issue. If you have a long-standing relationship with your agency, tell it you want some pro bono work done to help understand if there are any opportunities to consider. If your agency doesn't have direct access (meaning it doesn't have to pay to get its hands on this data), find a marketing intelligence agency that does. If the agency has the data, costs should be much lower for you and the ability to look into third-party data is easier. I'll make you a deal too — if you have truly explored third-party data and actually tested it in marketing and messaging, I'll give you blog space to tell your story as long as you don't mind me picking apart your story. There are too many success stories in the commercial world for this to be just something that doesn't apply to nonprofits.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.