Are Your Online and Offline Efforts in Sync?
It's time to end the compromise that's crushing your fundraising.August 2012 BY JEFF BROOKS
If your organization is like many, you've been living with an unusual compromise for a few years. It works something like this:
- The fundraising or development department is in charge of direct mail.
- The marketing department is in charge of the website.
- The two areas have almost nothing in common.
- This minimizes conflict and pain.
Direct mail is managed by measurable objectives. This makes it relentlessly donor-centric. That means old-fashioned, simplistic and emphatic. It stomps all over the brand guidelines with field-tested abandon. These qualities cause it to be disliked by many people in the organization, but it brings in the money so they mostly let it be.
The website is a different story. It's managed to the beliefs and opinions of people who work at the organization. It is a showcase of brand-compliant modern design that displays the aspirations and self-expression of the organization. It makes insiders feel happy and proud. It's successful when someone who matters says, "This website really captures who we are and what we do."
If you ran your direct mail by marketing department rules, it would crash and burn. Believe me, I know this to be true because I've seen it firsthand. If you ran your website by direct-response rules, a lot of folks at your organization would be very sad.
Thus the Great Compromise. Direct mail has an external audience of donors. The website has an internal audience of influential stakeholders. As long as the two remain separate, you never have to face the wrenching pain of refusing to meet the needs of one or the other.
But something is changing. The Great Compromise is turning into a huge, stinky albatross around your neck. And it's costing you a lot of revenue. It's the donors' fault. They're going multichannel on you. Many, when they get your direct mail, go to the website, either to research your organization or give — or both.
This is not bad. Cross-channel donors have higher value than online-only or mail-only donors. But it undermines the foundation of the Great Compromise.