Nonprofits Leading Change Through Integrated Fundraising and Marketing
Posted by Guest Blogger at Jul 23, 2014 07:04 AM CDT

This article was written by guest author Michael Stein, Senior Account Executive at Mal Warwick | Donordigital. He brings over 25 years of experience in nonprofit technology strategy.  With Nick Allen and Mal Warwick, Michael co-wrote the groundbreaking 1997 book: Fundraising on the Internet: Recruiting and Renewing Donors Online.

In my day-to-day work, I’m constantly pushed by nonprofit clients to meet and exceed fundraising goals, bring new innovations to the table that will engage constituents, and be endlessly creative with messaging, design, and user experience. My clients are also asking me to grasp profound changes that impact how nonprofits communicate, engage, and raise money: Changing media landscapes, the increased use of mobile devices, the decline of print news, the disappearance of landline phones, and the growth of social media are all creating challenges for nonprofit communicators and fundraisers.

I believe that responding to these challenges means embracing the reality of a busy, distracted, and multi-channel world through integrated fundraising and marketing.  

That’s why I was intrigued when I heard about NTEN’s upcoming Leading Change Summit in San Francisco on September 3-6, 2014.  After years of convening their Nonprofit Technology Conference for a wide nonprofit audience, NTEN created the Leading Change Summit to offer an opportunity for nonprofit change-makers to access advanced level learning among peers in the nonprofit industry. This event will bring together nonprofit change-makers that hold positions including executive leadership, and directors/managers of marketing and communications, fundraising, and IT. 

Upon hearing about this event, I was drawn to help lead the development of the Digital Strategy Track, which is designed for savvy online marketers, communicators, and fundraisers. It invites us all to “Break out from the norm and drive innovation by putting the Web to work.” My hope for the Digital Strategy Track is that we’ll debate many of the issues around fundraising and marketing in a multi-channel world, and ask ourselves: What does nonprofit technology innovation look like and how do we put it to work for real results?

For communications, this means accepting that real people use a multitude of devices and moments to browse news and then make choices about what to follow up on or read more about.  Attention span is by its very nature interrupted by the real world of family, commuting, and work.  So, our communications strategies and tools need to be multi-channel, repetitive, and interruptible. 

For fundraising, this means accepting that direct mail, telemarketing, email, peer-to-peer campaigns, and events work together to inspire and motivate fans to become donors. Real people will browse campaign messages through multiple channels at multiple times and will make giving decisions in their own time and pace.

Ultimately, the reality of a multi-channel world requires us as marketers and fundraisers to put real people at the heart of our engagement strategies.  Our strategies, tools, schedules, and messages become more effective when we frame stories and communications that resonate with everyday people.  

Multi-channel means ensuring that our online and offline programs include diverse audiences and communities. Multi-channel means accepting that our constituents and donors are often busy parents who have a lot of other things going on. Multi-channel means listening to how our supporters want to be engaged with, and then designing campaigns around their needs rather than ours.

I’m excited to dive deeper into this conversation with my peers at the Digital Strategy Track at the Leading Change Summit. We’ll explore how to match organizational goals with digital strategies to win campaigns, celebrate supporters, drive engagement and donations, and more. 

There’s still time to join in this conversation – register today for the Leading Change Summit! And, here’s a special offer for IMAB blog readers: Register today at the NTEN Member rate ($200 off) with the discount code: LCSPartner200

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8 Tips on Integrated Fundraising from the 2014 Bridge Conference
Posted by Guest Blogger at Jul 17, 2014 07:02 AM CDT

This article was written by guest authors, Mark Johnston, Senior Advisor, hjc and Jessica Lewis, Fundraising Innovation Consultant, hjc.

The Bridge Conference always delivers with great sessions for nonprofits and is jam packed with lots of knowledge you can take back and apply in all aspects of your fundraising work. This year’s conference was no exception. Here are some of the valuable tidbits that we garnered from the sessions hjc attended last week at Bridge that you may find helpful as you tackle your integrated fundraising programs. 

  1. The need for responsive design – You need to be able to reach the donor through the channel to which they are connected, so it’s important to know where they are most engaged. For example, mobile usage online overtook desktop use for the first time in 2014. If you have a limited budget, then start making sure that your forms (e.g. donation forms and sign ups) are mobile responsive.
  2. Personalization matters – We can all benefit from fine-tuning our communication strategies so that the donor experience is personalized. No matter where people click through to you, have a plan mapped out that will make the donor journey matter on a personal level to the donor. Make sure to integrate the donor’s information throughout your campaign.
  3. Measure impact – Steve Nardizzi, the CEO of Wounded Warrior Project, at his keynote address argued that charities need to do a better job of measuring impact (for example, Wounded Warrior Project publishes their ratios on their website). He also advocated for charity ratings to be based on a wider concept of impact, the importance of the charity’s mission as well as their long term plans. He asserted that organizations such as Charity Watch and Charity Navigator use criteria that are too narrow through which to rate a charity (e.g. fundraising ratios) and that a broader set of criteria needs to be applied to pass judgement on charities and measure how they are achieving their missions and mandates over the long term.
  4. Communicate to your donors in their preferred channel – Connected to the idea of personalization, being able to identify and push communication to the donor in their favourite channel is key to improving results in the long run. 
  5. Invest in SEM – Investing in Search Engine Marketing has been proving to be successful for a number of nonprofits. If you have a limited budget, then investing in your year-end campaign may be a strategic use of limited marketing dollars. And this is all on top of your Google Grant! 
  6. Test, test, test! – Don’t be afraid to test everything – from email send time to donation ask amounts to preview pane copy! This will help you better understand your list and build your integrated fundraising program as a result.
  7. Make it easy for your donor – It pays off to closely examine and make sure that you don’t have any extra steps on your donation form that will lengthen the time it takes to donate. The same goes for your peer to peer event registration forms.
  8. Pick only what works for your organization! – Remember, everyone’s needs for solutions and strategies are unique to each nonprofit’s reality! Examine all of the angles of potential strategies before you leap into them.

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Montgomery Area Food Bank Puts a Young Spin on an Old Program
Posted by Meg Mader at Jul 10, 2014 07:00 AM CDT

The Montgomery Area Food Bank (MAFB), a nonprofit organization serving senior citizens in Alabama, recently put a “young” spin on an “old” program – and found gold: The MAFB was recognized with a 2014 IMAB Integrated Marketing Award.  

The MAFB improves the lives of more than 330,000 people every year, providing free food to individuals and families in need by distributing groceries and other necessities, and partnering with more than 800 agencies. The Senior Supplement Program, one of MAFB’s many life-changing services, provides nourishing food to elderly citizens across Alabama. Each month, all participating seniors receive a box filled with 25 to 35 pounds of nutritious food carefully selected for the special needs of older citizens. 

But at one point, this relied-up service was in jeopardy – the Senior Supplement program had been struggling, and with funding so low, any hopes of program expansion were put on hold indefinitely – MAFB has not been able to add any new seniors to the program in over a year.

Finding Gold in Something Old

The MAFB realized they had to make a change to achieve their goals of increased engagement and overall support for the Senior Supplement Program. In their new strategy, MAFB switched the focus of their marketing, to call attention to the program itself and allow supporters to get to know the seniors they serve. The MAFB did this by sharing personal stories from participants, a smart way to educate donors on how the Senior Supplement Program profoundly improves the lives of seniors in need. The MAFB also began showing program-specific donors results to acknowledge the impact of their gifts and foster an emotional connection between the donor and the seniors.

To share their stories and increase awareness of the Senior Supplement Program, the MAFB switched to social media. Typically known for its influence on a younger audience, the MAFB opted to use social media channels to put a young spin on an old program, with hopes of reaching new followers and growing support. Staff dedicated one month to using Facebook, Twitter, and the MAFB blog to promote stories, facts and information about the seniors they serve. On Facebook, MAFB posted compelling images with facts summarizing the serious health concerns facing seniors who are malnourished. On their blog, the MAFB posted persuasive stories, one of which was written about an 81-year-old woman whose medical conditions did not allow her to digest solid foods. 

The social media strategy was complemented by a matching grant opportunity: all first-time donors or donors who increase their giving (by dedicating gifts to the Senior Supplement Program) had their donations matched with a $10,000 gift.

One Donor ‘Ensures’ Program Continues

The results of this “young” strategy proved very rewarding for the program. In response to the story about the elderly woman who can’t digest solids, the program received donations of Ensure meal replacement drinks. The MAFB also received monthly sustainer donations in response to the same story. 

In addition to expanding their social reach, the MAFB saw increases in overall visitors to their website and click-throughs driven from social media posts. In June of 2014, the Senior Supplement program increased the number of participants served by 6%, and this growth is forecasted to continue. On social media, the MAFB saw a 5.6% increase in Facebook likes, and an impressive 33% increase in Twitter followers in May and June of this year.

Last, but perhaps the most meaningful, the organization saw growth in their monthly recurring donations, adding 7 new monthly donors in 2014, two of which contribute directly to the Senior Supplement program.

The MAFB showed that social media is a powerful platform and useful for integrated campaigns when part of a strategy. These initiatives proved that knowledge is power – when supporters know more about the program’s depth and true impact of their gift, they develop a stronger connection to the organization’s mission and are more likely to stay engaged and give again. And while the Senior Supplement Program caters to older citizens, it is in fact, young at heart.

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Show Me the (Online) Money!
Posted by Guest Blogger at Jul 02, 2014 07:03 AM CDT

This article was written by guest author Alexa Langford, Manager of Research & Analytics, Grizzard.

We know that today’s donors are living in a multi-channel world, with ever-increasing ways to give. Many of these new solicitation channels end up with the actual donation taking place on the organization’s website, and are considered online gifts. And according to Grizzard’s 2014 DonorGraphics™ survey, 31% of donors prefer making charitable donations online, eclipsing mail (preferred by 26%) for the first time ever.

And so, many organizations now understand that synchronizing the messaging on their website with online and offline communications is a key way to increase revenue. If a donor receives a matching gift appeal in the mail, then goes online to donate and sees the same matching gift message in a homepage bug, their experience is more connected and uniform. These types of coordinated campaigns helped nonprofits grow online revenue 13.5% in 2013 (source: Blackbaud 2013 Charitable Giving Report).

While it is expected that online giving will continue to climb for nonprofits, many nonprofits are still understandably skeptical about the relationship between direct mail and online giving. It’s easy to say that direct mail contributes to online giving, but harder to prove.

One of Grizzard's clients in the human services vertical, currently synchronizing their marketing efforts with us, recently challenged us to clearly demonstrate the link between online giving and offline solicitations. We identified a 6 month window (October 2013 through March 2014) to ensure that both holiday and non-holiday periods were included. We then analyzed all online and white mail giving during this time period, matching it back to both renewal and acquisition solicitations (which were coordinated with their website and online messaging). Only gifts preceded by a solicitation were included. Our results:


Our results show that 85% of online revenue and 69% of white mail revenue could be tracked back to donors who were solicited through direct mail prior to their donation. In this case, we were able to show this client the money -- over $250,000 -- that had been raised through their cohesive and coordinated messaging.

Is your website optimized for online giving? Are you coordinating your online and offline messaging? Let us know what you’re doing to synchronize your fundraising in the comments section below.

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Delivering the Right Constituent Experience for Your Nonprofit Through Omnichannel Marketing
Posted by Bethany Maki at Jun 26, 2014 07:02 AM CDT

At 38, I’m a veritable young’un professionally speaking.  But the change I’ve seen in nonprofit integrated fundraising and marketing over the last thirteen years is tremendous.  When I started in this business as a walk manager, my call to action and path to success were very clear: Recruit walkers for AIDS Walk Pittsburgh, help them fundraise door-to-door, and host a memorable Walk. I was an event coordinator before peer-to-peer online fundraising really took off, before most nonprofits cared about an e-newsletter and before Google started Grant-ing.

Then, the era of Digital Darwinism began, upending how nonprofits and commercial companies alike approach building consumer experience. The proliferation of digitally-driven “big data” has landed us in the overwhelming world of what’s sometimes now being called “omnichannel” marketing. While the term might be considered the latest industry buzz word, the concept is right-on. 

As our media landscape has grown and our consumer experience over digital channels and devices has evolved, so has the requirement of marketing.

  • Omnichannel marketing is NOT mirroring your direct mail program in your email program.
  • Omnichannel marketing is NOT using the same brandmark and creative treatment in every channel.
  • Omnichannel marketing is NOT making sure you get physical addresses, email addresses and social credentials for all of your constituents.

So what is omnichannel marketing?

Quite simply, omnichannel marketing is an approach which should deliver a consumer’s desired experience with your organization. It is the mechanism for creating a continuous experience that recognizes how, where and why your constituents interact with you. Omnichannel marketing requires that a consumer’s behavior in one channel or program should influence his experience in others.

Where the complicated, tangled hairball comes in is managing the complexities born of the drivers of an individual’s desired experience. Drivers come in two categories:

Cultural Drivers

These are the drivers that make me expect you to send me a mobile optimized email, to reach me on Facebook with shareable content, to show me real results of what you’re doing with my money, to know I don’t care about Vine and that I never open my direct mail pieces for anything outside of the address labels which I take before throwing the rest of the package in the garbage.

These drivers can largely be decoded with persona and segmentation research.

Personal Drivers

The other category of drivers is personal. And these, I believe, comprise the key difference between nonprofits and commercial companies. Nordstrom needs to know what brands I prefer, what sizes I wear and how often I shop online—pretty easy stuff to track. But I expect the American Heart Association to know that I want heart-healthy recipes in my Go Red for Women emails and Facebook newsfeed, but that I’m not yet interested in donating. I expect Oldies But Goodies Cocker Rescue to know I’m an adopted dog mom who’s passionate about responsible pet ownership but can’t adopt another furbaby. And, I expect Ronald McDonald House Charities to know that I have given to them through workplace giving because they helped my husband and stepdaughter when she was injured, and am I prime candidate to recruit for their local 5K.

I don’t expect the nonprofits I interact with as a donor or constituent to be omniscient. I expect them to ask, and I expect them to pay attention to what I do with the content they serve me.   What makes it so hard for nonprofits to do the same? One of the key differences between commercial and nonprofit businesses and their ability to be relevant is that we give commercial entities really relevant transactional information that they can use to optimize our engagement. The transactional history tells just about the whole story of our desired experience.  But with nonprofits the engagement/awareness signals are less transactional, more personal, and thus slipperier. To get at them requires an unprecedented amount of coordination between business units and their budgets to create, measure and iterate the right experience for every constituent. 

Collecting these drivers of desired experience at an individual level and building content strategy, segmented contact plans and budgets for what they require is no small exercise in collaboration. To help you incrementally build your constituents’ optimal omnichannel constituent experience, take it step by step:

  • Identify, acquire and engage the right constituents
  • Balance budgets between channels and the audiences in them
  • Attribute marketing efforts across channels and collect data at the constituent level as much as possible
  • Allow the trends in that data to inform a test plan that will get you closer to allowing someone’s interaction with yo in one channel or program to affect how you treat them in subsequent communications

So what successes and challenges is your nonprofit having with omnichannel marketing? Please comment below or reach out to me at 

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