I recently had the privilege of presenting at the ALDE Conference, during the course of which I had the good fortune to listen in on the Keynote Address presented by Kivi LeRoux Miller. It got me to thinking about becoming a nonprofit milliner.
Well, here’s the deal. I’m sure I could do a brisk business selling all sorts of different hats based on what Kivi had to say about results from her 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. After surveying more than 1500 nonprofits, guess what she found?
Executive, development and marketing directors seem to be wearing stunningly different bonnets – all reflecting their stunningly different goals.
Here’s what I mean:
The study asked staff heading up different departments to pick their top three goals. The results? Their goals were not exactly aligned.
How development, marketing and executive directors prioritized their top 3 goals markedly differently.
|A Top 3 Goal?||% of Development Directors saying YES||% of Executive Directors saying YES||% of Marketing Communications Directors saying YES|
|General Brand Awareness||25%||42%||68%|
Okay, so I’ve got at least three distinct customer markets for my new hat business. Woo-hoo!
I could sell Fundraising Fedoras to development staff. Perhaps Branding Berets and Communicator Cloches to marketing staff. And Director Derbies for the E.D.s.
I bet I could even sell an array of different hats to other development staff with different portfolios (sadly, these folks too often get territorial and compete rather than cooperate). How about Annual Giving Gibus, Major Giving Mitres and Planned Giving Panamas?
No doubt there’d be a market for offering a diverse array to different marketing staff as well (e.g., Direct Mail Deerstalkers, Online Pro Opossum Caps and Media Mad Hatter Toppers for those wild and crazy PR folks. But before I put in my order to stock my hat boutique’s shelves, let’s take a further look at the study.
The Study also reveals huge gaps in approaches to what are perceived as the most effective communication channels.
So how does your organization get on the same page?
Development staff favor in person meetings. I imagine they’d probably buy wide-brimmed straw hats and warm hoods to keep the sun and rain off their heads while they’re out and about. Communications directors might choose visors to moderate the glare coming off the computer screen while they’re working on their communication priorities — website and sending email.
And the executive directors probably would like a very stylish chapeau (perhaps a top hat for the men and a pillbox for the women?) as 52% picked social media as a preferred channel vs. 46% for communications directors and 30% for development directors.
So… I’m just about ready to place my order. But wait a minute! This makes no sense at all. What does this all mean? As I was listening to Kivi’s presentation it got me thinking about two things: (1) Why is this happening, and (2) How can it be fixed?
The overarching problems I see are (1) too much silo thinking and (2) too little common sense, and (3) too little team spirit.
3 Secrets to Building an Integrated Fundraising and Marketing Team
1. Siloes Be Gone!
I’ve long advocated for integration of the development and marketing functions into a single department. Why? Because they’re tasked with very similar responsibilities. They have the same basic decisions to make: (1) which “product” to offer; (2) which channel(s) to message in, and (3) which call to action to emphasize. Put another way, the right product must be offered in the right way to the right customer. If marketing and development are targeting the same constituents (and there is always significant overlap), yet each choose a different product, channel or call to action, you’re already in trouble.
So these functions must be seamlessly integrated. They must speak the same language. Responsibilities must be clearly assigned, both to prevent fights over territory and to assure nothing slips through the cracks. Department meetings should be held regularly so everyone understands the role they play in contributing towards the big picture goal.
How can you put your best foot forward to the public when your right and left hands don’t know what the other is doing? You need both oars pulling the same boat.
Everyone put on the same Silo Killing Skimmers and race that boat to victory!
2. Bring Back Common Sense
Could it be that everyone who crosses the threshold of a nonprofit takes off their “common sense cap?” That’s all that explains this for me. And, sadly, I encounter it in my practice over and over again. For example, the marketing folks in the study didn’t prioritize donor retention. Huh? It should be common sense (and it certainly is in the for profit sector) that it costs more to get a new customer than to keep an old one. We know in our own homes that it (usually) costs more to buy a new appliance than to fix an old one (especially when it’s brand new). But… maybe that’s where the problem lies.
We’ve become such a throw-away culture that we think little of tossing away our old donors and replacing them with new ones. In fact, we think so little that we don’t even realize we’re abandoning our current donors. But by acting as if we’re “done” with those folks once the gift is secured, that’s what we’re effectively doing. And here we come back to common sense (or lack thereof). No one thinks they can sustain bonds with their friends if they talk to them only once a year. Yet we think our donors will keep giving and giving and giving — even if we do very, very little to build a relationship with them.
Let’s put our Common Sense Caps on folks!
3. Get the Team Spirit!
Does your development department have to beg and cajole the marketing staff to help them out whenever needs arise? Can you imagine if that was the culture on, say, a baseball team? “Yeah, I see you’ve got a no-hitter going into the 9th inning Madison, but don’t think I’m going to bust my butt to catch a fly ball just to preserve your record. I’ve got other priorities.”
Understand that from the outside looking in, you are ONE organization. One team. No one cares which department crafted which message. What folks do care about is when they are bombarded by too many different messages — from different departments — with different calls to action. It’s confusing. What are they supposed to do first! What’s your top priority for their time, interest and money?
Get it together folks. Development and marketing efforts must have coherence. I’m talking to you, Executive Directors. Too often no one has authority (or too many people share authority); the result is anarchy.
Commit to creating a development/marketing team. Go buy everyone the same hat, put your organization’s logo and tagline on it, and get out the cheerleading pom-poms. Rah! Go team!
(Besides, I really don’t have time to go into the millinery business).
Do you have problems with folks wearing too many different hats in your nonprofit? If you’ve strategies to get everyone working as a team, please share them in the comments below.