5 Steps to Beat Your Biggest Marketing Challenge

Donor Detectives Team

Donor Detectives Team

Do you ever wake up at 3:30 am and wonder if you really know what your nonprofit’s marketing is doing?

You know that Joe on the communications team sends out a ton of emails. Katie, the CEO’s intern, runs social media. Jody at your external fundraising agency manages direct mail. And Alejandro in the IT department updates the website and oversees the Google Grant.

And you? Maybe your role is to make sure it’s all working together to advance your nonprofit’s brand and raise funds. But that’s a tall order with so many stakeholders involved. The good news is you can get a handle on your multi-channel marketing efforts and make them work harmoniously to achieve your goals.

In our experience with nonprofits of all sizes and types, here are the five steps we’ve found most helpful for creating truly integrated marketing:

Step 1. Admit There Is a Problem

Sure, it can seem great in a kumbaya kind of way that your donors and constituents are receiving so many messages in multiple channels from so many caring people at your organization. But it’s critical to face the fact that speaking in many different ways will never be as strong as speaking with one voice. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to changing it.

Step 2. Get Everyone Talking

Make a list of everyone (both internal and external) with substantial input into your organization’s integrated marketing and get them together in one room. Create a positive environment in which people feel free to talk. Ask each one to describe what they’re currently communicating to your nonprofit’s donors, volunteers, and friends. Get ready for some “aha!” moments as people hear what others are doing, maybe for the first time.

Step 3. Map the Big Picture

As each stakeholder shares their communications plan, write down what you’re hearing on a whiteboard or big chart. This visual map should capture a rough overview of all the messages types your donors are hearing and seeing month after month. Warning: don’t try to get too detailed at this stage or you’ll bog everyone down. A high-level perspective is sufficient.

Step 4. Collaborate and "Themify"

Now that you know the big picture of your nonprofit’s multi-channel marketing, spend some time refining it. The end goal? Speaking with a unified voice to your nonprofit’s constituents. A great way to do this is to “themify.” Do this by setting monthly or quarterly messaging themes that should influence, if possible, every message to each constituent during that time period.

Of course, don’t try to force things that don’t fit. A message about the golf tournament will always be substantially different than a reminder to volunteers about an upcoming project. The goal is to connect messages to the theme where possible.

And here’s another warning: don’t allow the strongest personality in the room to dominate the selection of messaging themes. You need to clearly establish at the outset your organization’s top priorities, which are probably fundraising and donor retention, and make sure the themes you choose support those priorities.

Step 5. Keep Everyone on the Same Page

You’ll need additional check-ins with stakeholders to make sure everyone is sticking to the integrated messaging plan. Send regular updates to remind people of what your organization should be talking about in a given month or quarter. And schedule regrouping meetings as appropriate.

In our experience at Donor Detectives, this kind of approach can quickly and effectively bring order and structure to the numerous communications that many nonprofits send out. This is not a move by one department to get control of others. It’s simply a way you can help everyone get a big picture view, and then inspire them to collaborate together for the common good.

The benefits are significant. By aligning your organization’s messages with a common goal, you’ll have a much better chance of breaking through the clutter and actually making an impact in the minds and hearts of your constituents. That will lead to a stronger brand, better fundraising, and better donor retention.

So give this approach to integrated marketing and fundraising a try. Let us know how it goes. If you’d like to chat further about any of these ideas, you can reach out to our team and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

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