February 20, 2020
Study: Nonprofits Use Integrated Marketing, but Approach Varies

August 22, 2011 — With potential donors becoming increasingly selective about which charities they choose to support, nonprofits have responded by adopting a more integrated approach to marketing, but their sophistication does not correlate with their size, according to a recently completed study.

“Some large organizations that have not yet embraced integrated marketing, while some smaller organizations are quite sophisticated on this front,” reported a study commissioned by Texas-based Convio that looked at 123 nonprofits nationally, each of which had raised at least $1 million per year via direct response channels.

“Today, every constituent can and should be engaged through multiple channels so that both the organization and the individual get the most out of the relationship,” said Vinay Bhagat, founder and chief strategy officer of Convio. “In doing so, nonprofits can deepen those relationships by better anticipating needs, interests and passions, and providing relevant interactions and opportunities for participation. Determining how to manage this within an organization is non-trivial but has significant payoffs.”

Key findings included the following:
  • There is broad consensus that an integrated approach makes sense. Key benefits cited were the unification of messages across channels strengthens the brand, can cut through the clutter and increase response rates, engage new audiences, grow revenue, and save money.

  • Integrated marketing sophistication and size do not closely correlate. There are some large organizations where integrated marketing is in its infancy, while some smaller organizations are more advanced in their practices.

  • Online marketing’s contribution varies greatly. Twenty-nine percent of groups reported raising less than 5% of mass marketing funds (i.e., excluding major gifts, etc.) online. Yet, 26% of respondents are raising more than 25% of funds online. Furthermore, online marketing’s contribution to the fundraising mix is a leading indicator for integrated marketing effectiveness.

  • The systems and technology to support integration are an essential part of the process. Some organizations report not having software products that would allow their online and direct mail databases to sync, making both execution and validation of an integrated approach difficult, if not impossible.

  • Critical to understanding success is tracking and mining engagement interactions. For the most part, survey participants said they are tracking all interactions that their software will allow. However, while organizations may be tracking everything they can; often, they do not have the bandwidth or expertise to use the information.
The full study is available by clicking here.

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