Break Down the Silos—For Real This Time


Editor’s note: This post is an excerpt from Heller Consulting’s white paper “Taking Engagement Seriously.” Click here to download the full white paper>>

We know we need to do a better job of engaging with our supporters, but never before has that need been so urgent. The commercial sector is investing in technologies and strategies that have heightened every viewer’s expectations for relevant, personal, and important information. Smart companies are investing heavily in customer satisfaction—and making the delivery of the right message to the right person at the right time via the right channel the absolute best experience possible.

To learn how to better engage with their audience, savvy nonprofits are focusing on obtaining a “360-degree view” of their constituents. The goal is to see all the important interactions with a donor or supporter in one place—providing major donor officers a complete understanding of how their donor has interacted with the organization.

Many organizations expect a CRM system to solve their challenges, but technology alone cannot deliver a 360-degree view. Nor can data alone deliver this. Strategy and content must come first. The technology and connected data are simply tools that are used to implement a sound strategy.

One potential roadblock to building a successful strategy is your organization’s silos.

Every organization lives with silos. Siloed teams, siloed information, siloed donor experiences, siloed affiliates from headquarters. The bigger the organization, the worse this problem seems to be. When you keep your constituent at the center of your strategies and tactics, these silos MUST come down. A donor sees ONE organization—not different departments, not different chapters or affiliates. One organization. And what do they want more than anything? To know that their actions and their gifts are doing the most good to fulfill your mission. That’s it.

So while you can implement new technologies and business practices to create a better experience, you also have to make sure that your engagement strategy is holistic, multi-channel, cross-chapter, and relevant and interesting across the organization and at every point of contact. If you have a great digital program that is disconnected from your mail and phone program, you are not doing enough. Think about how your donors hear from you. Is the experience cohesive? Does they feel as though they are giving to one organization? Do you know when and how you are reaching them across different channels? They do! And they know whether those communications are connecting with them or making you look disconnected. When the later happens, they may seek out other organizations to support. A sound strategy will keep them in your camp.

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