Integrated marketing has been an intentional for-profit strategy for more than a decade. Compared to the for-profit world and the rapid rate in which it adopts the latest marketing methods, many nonprofit organizations are slow to change. Even those who would like to advance more quickly are often hampered by limited resources or a lack of understanding from upper management. Well-meaning nonprofits run into a number of internal obstacles when moving toward change, such as:
1) Lack of resources. Fundraisers often point to limited resources—people, time, and money—as a key reason for limiting their efforts. Frequently, those resource allocations are as fragmented as the fundraising strategy itself.
2) Absence of solid data. A lack of detailed, reliable data on prospects’ and donors’ interests and preferences will hinder an organization’s ability to craft an informed strategy, as will not having an effective system to manage good data. We must validate assumptions and move past relying on intuition, because even “what worked before” may not be maximizing all of the opportunities available today.
3) Resistance to new methods. Staff members poised to embrace new techniques are often held back by those in upper management who are unclear on the possibilities or are unsure of how to parlay their years of experience into new strategies and technologies.
4) Prioritizing the wrong things. Wowed by a creative media piece or the newest app, fundraisers can be tempted to disregard the strategy behind the creative or to focus on a tactic that isn’t part of a holistic plan. The result is like shooting a shiny new arrow into the dark, without having first identified the target.
5) Tentativeness toward multiple asks. Sometimes a fundraiser accepts a gift and then either stops asking, or only asks in the channel through which the donor initially responded—rather than getting to know what motivates the donor to give more readily and more often.
6) Risk aversion. Nonprofits may fear alienating current donors by changing the process, or they may avoid taking a risk on a new strategy without total confidence it will produce the expected income.
Nonprofits are pressured by real and urgent needs; therefore, tend to focus on shortterm financial goals. In that environment it may seem difficult to step back and craft a proactive, strategic approach. But doing so could put your nonprofit on a fast track to growth.
Why has proper integration become so pivotal for the nonprofit sector? Because nonprofit constituents are also marketplace consumers—and major national brands such as Amazon and Apple have set the standard. What for-profit companies offer consumers—intense personalization, intuitive response mechanisms, convenience, and a plethora of options—are what donors now expect from their nonprofit experiences as well.
Recent research reveals that consumer preferences don’t neatly organize according to age, gender, and income demographics. Those are important considerations, but online interaction is increasingly based on personality traits and personal motivation. Being responsive to those motivations will be key to future fundraising success, and an integrated cross-channel approach will allow for the most donor personalization. (Source: ExactTarget’s Subscribers, Fans, and Followers study)
Changes in donor communication and giving preferences are similar to current consumer trends. An integrated cross-channel strategy is critical to meeting donors’ expectations while also leveraging their interests to prompt them to take a desired action.