Put the ‘Integrate’ in Integrated Fundraising
As the use of digital marketing continues to evolve and expand within the nonprofit industry, fundraising executives are demanding more integration within their marketing, communication and fundraising solutions. More often than not, the integration of digital is very much tactical in execution, primarily in the form of “media” (outbound communication) and/or a “channel” of response.
The key point of distinction is nonprofits that wish to implement integrated fundraising strategies must first think of their constituents rather than the communication tactic itself. They need to put the donor in the center of their strategies and build integrated communications solutions to maximize performance of that donor.
The problem, however, is that launching an initiative to fully integrate marketing and fundraising across the entire enterprise is a daunting task for most, if not all, organizations (and commercial enterprises, for that matter). And as study after study has pointed out, organizations lack the infrastructure and technology necessary to implement a true integrated fundraising solution, but remember ...
To do integrated fundraising means you must first be integrated.
Virtually every organization is divided into departments and/or business groups that have distinct and often-fluctuating focuses, objectives and goals. They are predominately organized in a silo fashion. Each department has its own unique budget and most assuredly separate performance metrics–oftentimes in direct conflict with other departments.
As more and more organizations are having conversations about being integrated, the challenge is the ability to integrate.
The level of difficulty increases substantially when you toss the constituent into the mix–more specifically, the ownership of the individual constituent/donor throughout the entire enterprise. That’s because nonprofits typically have not been internally organized to make business decisions at the constituent level, even if they’d increase experiences online and offline.
In the traditional model, business decisions are made at the program, event, activity and/or campaign levels. Budgets are developed at these levels, and they are the basis for staff evaluation and compensation. However, in programs that are truly integrated, budgets and investment strategies are created at the individual constituent level.
To engage in integrated fundraising, nonprofits must focus on two strategies:
- Constituent-based investments and value-based engagements across channels to increase experiences
- Evolve from trying to maximize performance of a series of individual campaigns or special events to a strategy that considers the constituent’s performance across a wide array of campaigns and interactions, and how each communication and engagement influences the behavior of a constituent over time
To practice integrated fundraising requires integration across the entire enterprise and a commitment to become more constituent-centric. Nonprofits must transform their organization to better focus on the constituent–across programs, departments and channels. The sooner a nonprofit organization can become totally integrated around the constituent, the sooner it can provide a better, more consistent experience and drive increased fundraising-program performance across the organization.
Greg Fox is vice president of nonprofit vertical strategy at Merkle. He joined the company in 2000 to establish a data-driven, strategic fundraising agency group. Fox is a 30-year veteran of direct response fundraising, with expertise in developing innovative fundraising marketing strategies and solutions. He has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for many of the largest and most respected fundraising brands in America, and while he has broad-based fundraising experience, he is highly regarded as a leader in the national health-charity sector. Prior to joining Merkle, Fox was a founding partner in TheraCom, a leading provider of full-service specialty pharmacy solutions and marketing strategies that served the healthcare and charitable industries. He also served as vice president of direct response fundraising at the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where he started his career and created the organization’s first national direct response program. Fox is an industry thought-leader, frequent speaker at industry conferences and an active participant in the DMA nonprofit federation. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.