Tools for Integrating Your Marketing and Fundraising Efforts
Posted by Guest Blogger at Jul 31, 2014 07:01 AM CDT
This article was written by guest authors Kyle Andrei, Research Analyst, and Ethan Drigotas, Research and Fundraising Intern -- both from Idealware.
Marketing is about getting people to know and think positively about your organization. Fundraising is about getting people to donate. You probably spend a lot of time trying to move people from the first group up the ladder of engagement to the latter group. Integrating these two functions can make them both easier and more effective.
You don’t need technology to integrate your nonprofit’s marketing and fundraising, but it can help. At Idealware, we work with a lot of different types of technology you can use to ease your efforts in this area, and in this post we’ll go over them one at a time.
The first—and maybe the most obvious—is your website. Often the primary means that people learn about your organization online, it should also be the first tool you evaluate. Can site visitors easily learn about your organization’s mission and services? Can they sign up to receive email, or to donate? If content is out-of-date—like pictures and bios of former staff members, references to old programs, or calendar events that have already happened—you’ll need to fix it.
A good Content Management System for nonprofits will let you create and maintain customized websites, update graphic design and navigation, and automate routine updates—for instance, removing events from your homepage after they’ve come and gone—all without technical skills. It will also help you adapt your site for mobile visitors to make it easy for everyone to reach you and learn more.
Finally, a website analytics tool like Google Analytics can help you monitor your visitors at no charge. What pages do they visit most often, how did they find those pages, and where did they go next? Answering these questions will help you prioritize for future updates and evaluate what pages or donation forms were more or less successful than others.
If you email more than a few dozen people at a time, you should be using a broadcast email tool. Tools like Outlook or Gmail aren’t designed to support large-scale mailings and won’t help with the formatting and list-management tasks critical for large lists. What’s more, using them to email hundreds of people means you may reach more spam filters than inboxes—or worse, you might get your mail server blacklisted as spam, blocking future emails from anyone in your organization.
Broadcast email software will let you email a group of people at once, and can help you create attractive emails and manage email address lists—including letting constituents subscribe and unsubscribe themselves. More advanced tools help you collect email addresses on your website, mail-merge information from your database into emails, work with segments of your list, and see detailed statistics.
If your organization isn’t already on social media, these channels might help you tap into a new audience, reinforce your relationship with existing supporters, and expand your online presence. These days, so many people are on Facebook that most organizations are expected to have a presence on the site, but before picking the other channel or channels to which you’ll devote resources, think about who your target constituents are. LinkedIn is likely to be of particular interest to groups whose mission is to support people in their jobs or that focus on careers. Twitter and Google Plus tend to have a more tech-savvy audience. Tumblr is more popular with teens and young people.
Each social media channel has its own uses and expectations, as well. Some, like Twitter, are geared toward short bits of information or links to resources, and some are more visual, like Tumblr, a highly social blogging platform. It’s worth at least exploring two or more to find out what style and audience works best for your organization.
Donor- and Constituent Relationship Management Systems
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, marketing is about getting people to know and think positively about your organization, and fundraising is about getting people to donate. Constituent management is about keeping track of all those people. Since the idea is to move people in the first group to the second, you have a couple of options for tracking everyone. Do you track current and potential donors in one database and the people on your email list in another? Or should you keep everyone in the same database? Picking one method over the other isn’t a cut-and-dried decision for every organization. The answer depends more on who your highest priority constituents are.
A Donor Management System lets you track donors, gifts, and prospects. You can access a donor’s contact information and giving history, and many provide options to mail-merge letters, and email lists of of donors. Sophisticated systems might track events and/or provide online giving functionality to replace other systems your organizations might use.
Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) systems, on the other hand, are designed to track comprehensive data about each constituent—not just their donations and membership dues, but event attendance, volunteer work, and other information you might care to track about a particular individual. These systems are typically flexible from a technical standpoint, so you (or a consultant) can tailor them to the processes you need to support. CRM platforms are also meant to be tightly integrated with your website and e-marketing systems. Some people use “CRM” as a catchall term for any constituent database, but at Idealware, we use it to describe this specific kind of flexible system that has substantial integration with your organization’s online presence.
Integrated Online Systems
If multiple systems or costly configuration doesn’t seem appropriate for your organization, but you are looking to implement an integrated approach to marketing and fundraising, an integrated online system may be right for you. This type of system lets nonprofits manage their web presence and other organizational information in a single online package. Many systems can provide the ability to manage member, donor, and other constituent data, accept online payments, send broadcast emails, manage event registrations, update websites, and more. While these systems have great functionality, they can also require more of an investment to buy and set up than some of the other options listed here.
While your website, email, and database working together will cover most of your needs, there will always be something that doesn’t quite fit, or a function that one of the three doesn’t handle well. In those cases, it might make sense to look into a more-targeted solution, like Event Registration Software, Online Donation Tools, and Dashboards.
Integration may seem overwhelming at first, but the benefits of having a cohesive marketing and fundraising plan can go a long way. While there are lots of different organizations and integration needs, there are also lots of ways to fuse your marketing and fundraising approach, and plenty of technology out there to help get you started.
Looking for a little more information or help? Check out Idealware’s Practical Guide to Integrated Communications: A Workbook for Nonprofits.