It means using all the latest technology,doesn’t it? I asked myself this question at the the annual conference of the Institute of Fundraising London Group. This was weeks ago, but two ideas have been going round my head in opposite directions ever since. I spent two days listening to a selection of the capital’s most with-it fundraisers, and although the sessions offered a wide range of topics, these two coherent and consistent themes emerged: an integrated campaign can yield great dividends, but the direct approach is still the top earner.
What do we mean by ‘integrated fundraising’? Just as there is a recognised need among database specialists to keep revisiting the definition of CRM, so it can be helpful for fundraisers to spell out what they mean by this phrase. Speakers at IoF London made clear that it is much more than running campaigns across multiple departments and multiple channels, as modelled in the table above. It is, (like CRM actually) a cultural paradigm requiring campaign managers to involve as many stakeholders as possible in the fundraising mix. The Battersea Dogs Home rehomer with a story to tell about dogs given new homes after months in solitary, and the visually impaired volunteer rattling tins for the GLFB were just two examples on the day of how the direct experience of the charity’s work can create an emotional connection with the donor that elicits the highest and most frequent gifts.
Of course, it’s not just about the next gift. It’s also about the range of ways that an engaged person can support the charity and ensuring that they have every opportunity to do all of them. I would say ‘cross marketing’ in old speak, but it can also be indirect, so it’s about ‘maximising touch points’ and being ‘demand led’ not ‘supply led’ encouraging and facilitating ‘pull’ not just old fashioned ‘push'. Now you should be thinking about websites with video stories, mobile apps with incentives to go viral, not just Twitter and Facebook but and Yammer and Sprout.
But here’s the thing.
Along with the widespread agreement that integration is key, there was another story – the real revenue earning activity is still derived to a very great extent from the warm list. You may say, isn’t online giving up very strongly? Well it is, but even in the US, 92% of giving is still offline, and online is still only really strong where it is supported by mass news media. For most charities, last year’s volunteers, last year’s participants, the regular donors – these are still the bread and butter.
Every cause needs new donors, and new technology is a great way to attract new segments, but the bed rock is still the direct approach to the warm supporter. Yes, do as Guide Dogs do – get your lottery ticket purchasers thinking about legacies and your volunteers thinking about regular gifts. In other words, practise careful nurturing and growth of the contacts on the fundraising database. Key-note speaker Mark Astarita said it too in another way, when he asserted that
"UK fundraising will ride out the tough times better than most countries (especially the US where the main model is still the annual pledge!) because UK fundraisers understand regular giving".
Well I would say that wouldn’t I, working for a database solution company as I do?