I was reading this article about community giving days, and how they can drive one-day results for nonprofits. There seemed to be a lot of positive reinforcement for tactics like these
[These] contests hold the promise to draw new people to philanthropy, and offer the possibility of opening new channels to donors, volunteers, and general supporters. American philanthropy, as a function of GDP the largest in the world, has remained remarkably constant (some would say stagnant) for the last four decades. And with a million-plus registered nonprofits in the U.S. alone competing for dollars, giving contests can be tempting for small and mid-sized organization form whom increased attention matters as much as the actual dollars raised.
While giving days, mobile giving, and other tactics can be enticing, it’s important for charities to never confuse the difference between a tactic and a relationship. And the more successful a tactic is, the harder it is to keep the difference straight. Giving days are a great catalytic tactic to prompt initial engagement with new donors, but no tactic is a substitute for a holistic fundraising strategy, no matter the size of the organization. The challenge to creating sustainable support is…what comes next?
In today’s fundraising world, many nonprofits use a variety of communication channels to reach prospects and donors. Direct mail still plays a key role, online giving continues to increase, and social media is growing in popularity. But does that mean organizations are properly integrating their fundraising efforts?
In fact, what many groups think is integrated marketing is simply multiple campaigns happening in multiple channels. Let’s explore what an integrated approach to fundraising really is.
What Is Integrated Fundraising?
Integrated fundraising is the combination and coordination of tactics to reach a certain goal, which typically includes educating, engaging, and motivating constituents to act in
a desired manner. Integrated fundraising extends beyond having a consistent brand and message across channels (although that is an important first step). True integration drives prospects and donors through a strategic acquisition and engagement process where each action in a given channel informs and reinforces what happens next in another channel.
In short, integration moves people to action. It’s not simply a buzzword—integration is an essential realignment of your marketing and fundraising activities.
Integration: Coordinating or blending a group of parts into a unified system.
Multichannel Marketing: Use of multiple communication channels—direct mail, email, websites, social media, TV, etc.—to disseminate information. While the branding used may be consistent in multichannel marketing, many nonprofits employ multiple channels without coordinating their efforts across those channels.
Cross-Channel Marketing: Use of one communication channel to support or promote another, such as including a link to a campaign microsite in a direct mail piece, then using online behavior and interests to personalize a follow-up phone call. Studies show that offering donors multiple ways to connect with and give to an organization will substantially increase their overall lifetime value.
Strategy Versus Tactics: Terms like “strategy” or “strategies” are often misused. An example: “Our digital media strategies include active use of email, Facebook, and Twitter.” A strategy is a carefully crafted, overarching plan to achieve a desired result, and it presents a framework through which future decisions are made. Tactics are the tools and methods used to achieve the stated goals. A strategy based on strong donor data must be evaluated prior to deciding which tactics will work best.