News & Press: Member Insights

The Imperative of Integrated Fundraising

Wednesday, March 18, 2015   (0 Comments)

By Trent Dunham, Senior Vice President of Dunham+Company

One of the most frequent requests nonprofit organizations make of Dunham+Company is to assess the effectiveness of their overall fundraising program. In the course of those assessments, it never ceases to amaze me how often we find that there is very little focus on integrating the organization’s fundraising communications across multiple channels.

To be sure, nonprofits would largely agree that integrating their communications across their various platforms (direct mail, campaign collateral, email, website, social media, text messaging, etc.) is important, and something every organization should do. But the reality is that very few organizations actually put this into practice.

“Integrated fundraising” is a term that has been overused and under-implemented more than any term I have come across in the last ten years. Why is that?

Because integration is hard work.  

Integration forces nonprofits to break down preexisting silos within the organization, think critically about how to express themselves across various channels, and makes them consider the impact of their communications on a constituency that touches their messaging across those channels.

And that’s not the way most organizations think. They are siloed (think from the organization’s vantage point, not the view of the donor or consumer), and care most about specific silo results – not the results of the total fundraising and communication effort.

So how do you begin to move in the direction of integrated fundraising? One significant step would be to appoint a single person to be in charge of communications to whom all channel heads report. This is an effective way to begin forcing integration across any organization. In fact, I would say this is paramount to any successful long-term multi-channel integration strategy.

With this in place, here are two very basic steps you should take with any integrated fundraising campaign:

  • Ensure there is congruence between the message you are communicating in the mail, email, and the homepage.

  • Ensure that the look and feel of the homepage and landing page are congruent with the look and feel of the email and direct mail.

Now, this may seem embarrassingly simple, but most organizations fail to do even this basic work of integration.  

Is it worth the effort? We think so, as over the last few years Dunham+Company has led the charge to integrate campaign messaging across platforms for dozens of organizations with fairly dramatic results.  

One organization did the hard work to make sure their annual summer campaign had alignment across all channels (direct mail, homepage, email, landing pages, social media, etc.) and saw a 10% increase in total income, recorded a 16% increase in number of gifts given to the campaign, and realized 68% increase in the number of new donors acquired through the campaign over the previous year.

Another organization made sure that their website homepage reflected the messaging in their direct mail letter and had strong connection between their email and the donation landing page, and saw a 94% increase in total income attributed to the campaign, realizing a 57% increase in new donors acquired.

While these are only two organizations, we believe the proof is there: Taking the time to define the channels through which you communicate with your donors, and integrating your communications across all of those channels, will result in an overall lift in revenue.

These two nonprofits are reaping the benefits of an effectively integrated multi-channel fundraising strategy… and others could as well if they will do the hard work integration requires.

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