Online Integration or Online Disruption?

Online Integration or Online Disruption?

Nearly every consultant in the nonprofit space (me included) has been advocating the concept of online integration. That is, aligning your fundraising messaging online and offline. After a decade of the integrated approach, the Blackbaud benchmark for percent of organizational revenue coming online is a dismal 7%. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting we’d be doing a lot better by now. Could we be wrong about integration? Recently, I have been in conversations with the Browne Innovation Group. Mike Browne entered the nonprofit world eight years ago after a lifetime in commercial direct marketing. Initially he was “all in” with integrated marketing, but when he saw that it wasn’t moving the needle he rethought everything. Now he is onto a completely different approach to fundraising. Rather than integrating your digital and offline marketing efforts, Mike is an evangelist for a strategy I call disruption. Disruption is based on the idea that online fundraising is fundamentally different than offline fundraising. Think of offline fundraising as oil and online fundraising as water. So any attempts to integrate oil and water ultimately won’t work. Why will online fundraising be a fundamentally different model? Demographics. The direct response model (push marketing) has worked extremely well with the Builder Generation and older Boomers. But we all know that the generations following behave differently. Plus, over the past 20 years the internet has fundamentally changed nearly every business model out there. Fundraising is one of the final old school holdouts. So the Browne Innovation Group is advising and training its nonprofit clients through online e-learning courses to create a whole separate online...
What Can We Learn From Salesforce.com

What Can We Learn From Salesforce.com

I recently downloaded a free trial version of Salesforce.com’s CRM application and I was pleasantly surprised by the first-rate interaction from the company. And I thought to myself, what if nonprofits could follow up with donors the same way Salesforce.com followed up with a sales lead? I downloaded the mid-sized version of the software. At $65/month, my yearly value to the company is less than $800 so I’m not exactly a big spender to a company that does over $3 billion in revenue a year.  But within an hour of downloading the trial version, Mitch from Saleforce called me and left me a message. Since I wasn’t available to take the call at the moment, I received an email moments after the voice mail message asking if I had a few minutes to talk. I decided to give Mitch a few minutes of my time (after all, his email and voicemail message were so friendly wanting to know if I had any questions about the product). When we did connect via phone later that afternoon, the first few words out of Mitch’s mouth were “When was the last time you went flyfishing?” (If you’ve been to our website and read my bio, you will know I love flyfishing. ) The day before my free trial ended, I received a call and an email again from Mitch reminding me that my trial was about to end. Now, I believe if Mitch ever wanted to switch careers, he’d make one heck of a fundraiser. Here’s what he did: Made me feel important to his company by immediately contacting me after my...
Six Social Mechanisms that Drive Donations

Six Social Mechanisms that Drive Donations

Why do people give? I came to be a marketing analyst through Sociology, the scientific exploration of human behavior. This is how I continue to view my job as an analyst. Most studies we do are helped by understanding the people behind the numbers and so it is good to take time to check in with what academic researchers are saying about philanthropy. I recently read an exhaustive literature review from two researchers at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU University Amsterdam. Rene Bekkers and Pamala Wiepking propose that there are several main mechanisms that drive charitable giving. In today’s blog, we’ll take a brief look at six of these mechanisms and a few interesting study findings. (1) Awareness of need Donors choose to give to organizations that address a need that they feel is important. That seems obvious, but I want to focus on the word “feel.” Donor support is based on subjective needs, not objective needs. That means, it doesn’t matter how beneficial your cause is if potential donors do not personally feel the need. A good example of this is health care philanthropy. Health care donations more than any other category are driven by affinity to a cause. As potential donors, we may know that a particular disease or issue is a widespread problem, but when it happens to us or someone we love, our personal awareness of the need kicks into high gear and we are much more likely to become donors. (2) Solicitation Wayne Gretzky has been attributed the quotation “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In fundraising, that is...
The Diminishing Returns of Complexity

The Diminishing Returns of Complexity

We have been chatting about how the technological movement known as “big data” is at its tipping point and it seems that nothing is going to stop it. But I have noticed something. Big data leads to complexity. Expensive complexity. And it’s not just the technological infrastructure that’s pricey. Most organizations budget for that. No, it’s the stable of data jockeys that’s necessary to adequately leverage the benefits of the technology. Too often state of the art data technology is woefully underutilized because the organization can’t find or afford to adequately staff it. Earlier in my career, I developed a response model that regularly lifted net results by 15%. It wasn’t a particularly complex model – in my mind anyway. But the model was a complete flop in execution because the clients didn’t have the staff or tools to score the model. The process of applying the model simply proved to be too complex. Invariably, when drop dates were in jeopardy, the decision was made to “pull the data using the old RFM way.” And the lesson I learned is that sometimes simple is better, even though it may not yield the “best returns.” Stay simple my...