Integrated marketing, while typically utilized in the for-profit world, isn’t relegated to that sector alone. Many nonprofits use integrated strategies to communicate with their constituency throughout the year for appeals, stewardship, and general awareness or audience development. If you’re unfamiliar with integrated marketing, check out our whitepaper on the subject.
For those who are familiar with the process, you may also know that integrating communications and utilizing other tactics such as variable data technology are often dismissed as too expensive, too complicated, or simply out of reach. Though integrated campaigns may seem more costly up front, their ability to drive engagement and increase dollars and donors raised over time is undeniable—so they frequently pay for themselves.
If you’re spending the summer thinking about a new approach to your communications come fall fundraising time, here are some areas to focus on and test out while you’re stewarding this year’s donors:
Behavior > Inclinations
Changing or influencing the way your donors behave and engage with your communications is the cornerstone of integrated marketing campaigns. It’s easy, however, for nonprofit organizations to focus a lot of their marketing on building awareness for their brand and cause. While that’s important, it doesn’t always move the fundraising needle. A good place to start is by identifying the actions you want your audience to take, and then try to understand what makes them take action (or not, in some cases). Once you’ve got a sense of the journey you want them to take, craft your message around that. Then utilize landing pages, social media posts, and other channels that are inherently visual or captivating to push them toward action.
Picking the right channels to engage your donors on is key. Instead of hitting them as many times as you can by mail or email, just make sure they’re regularly coming into contact with your message. Weave it into the copy and creative of your website or through target social media ads. Intersperse the message in e-newsletters or printed magazines, and continue laying the groundwork for the pathway you want them to travel along. Your message doesn’t always have to be obvious, it just needs to be consistently reinforced so that you remain top of mind. Bonus tip: choose outlets that allow your audience to engage in a dialogue, as that presents an opportunity to glean valuable information from your donors that will help you fine tune the message even more.
Word of mouth is an invaluable communication tool, and while it’s not always thought of immediately as a channel per se, it should be. Within your donor base you should be able to identify a handful of loyal donors; the ones that consistently make gifts over time, volunteer, or stay in touch with you. Leverage their loyalty by providing them with the tools they need to spread the word on your behalf. For the group of people who may not be engaging with your communications or taking action in the way you’d hope, your loyal donors may be the people who help change their minds by providing that reassuring push they need.
Don’t Recycle Success
Just because your last integrated appeal was a revenue generating machine doesn’t necessarily mean that doing it the same way this year will duplicate your success. Every campaign should start from the ground up. Take the time to drill down the results of your most successful campaigns to get a clearer sense of what drove action, where engagement can be improved, which stories were the most compelling, or what channels gave you the best return. Build off of what you learn to create a similar campaign with a fresh message and overall look. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel, but a tired message will only breed tired donors.
The Wrap Up
The proliferation of digital media in recent years along with shifts in donor behavior have presented fundraisers with unique challenges and opportunities alike. Individual marketing efforts should reinforce one another—not compete—to accomplish a singular goal. Most nonprofits have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to communicating with donors for fear of being too aggressive. Most studies show that donors want to engage us, just often in different ways. Integrated campaigns allow us to capitalize on the interest and excitement of our audiences in the ways that appeal to them most.
Download our whitepaper on Integrated Marketing for Nonprofits.
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