Not one nonprofit direct marketer has ever told me that their department was overstaffed. It just doesn’t happen. There is too much going on in our multi-channel world to be able to do it all. Different organizations deal with this workload issue in different ways. Some are able to grow internally, some prioritize projects and do what they can, and some outsource part or all of their marketing operations to a service bureau or partner offering managed services.

Outsourcing operations has any number of benefits, especially in the world of direct marketing execution and database management. In my role at Blackbaud, I get to talk with all kinds of nonprofits about their needs and staffing models.

Here are the top reasons cited as the benefits of outsourcing one’s fundraising operations.

1. It lets you focus

If you or your team spends your days keeping routine marketing operations running smoothly, struggling to relearn infrequently used features in your fundraising system, or dealing with quality issues in your database, you may want to offload time-intensive activities to a partner who has the experience to efficiently manage these processes. That way, you can focus on what you do best—raising money.

2. It fills short-term needs

Does your workload fluctuate? Could you use help during the year-end crunch, a major event, a cutover to a new system, or while a new hire ramps up? If so, you may want to look for help from a trusted partner who can help you smooth out the bumps in your marketing cycles by performing everything from basic data entry to complex direct marketing segmentation, and everything in between.

You may also be able to reduce overhead by outsourcing part of your operations—no need to hire a full-time employee when the need is temporary or when you only need part-time support. You can minimize disruptions and risks by finding a partner who can flex with you.

3. It adds expertise, extends your team

Special jobs take specialized people. While you have the full range of marketing and communications responsibilities to juggle, outside systems experts are 100% focused on your software and can do more, faster. They know how to get the most out of your fundraising tools. They are there to execute difficult data tasks, like multichannel campaign execution and complex data integrations. They can run reports, import and export data, and keep your database in tip-top shape while you focus on your donors, not your data. They are also up-to-date on industry trends and best practices, and that can translate into more revenue for you.

4. It keeps the house clean

Segmentation and data errors result in lower revenues. It’s a fact. Why not let someone who can speedily and reliably merge duplicates, run change-of-address updates, and enforce data entry standards? With experts managing your database you will eliminate the number of “fingerprints” in your database, further reducing the risk of errors.

5. It reduces the number of moving parts

Managing a fundraising program requires you to establish and manage multiple vendor relationships which can be very time consuming. Service consultants can coordinate directly with your telemarketing provider, list broker or caging and lock box vendor, saving you valuable time. Often, your external team has established relationships with those entities, so communication is reliable and efficient.

Outsourcing: What does it cost?

Cost has many facets. Ask yourself: How much time are we spending on importing, exporting and managing data? Do we have enough time to devote to analysis so we know what’s working and what’s not? Do we have time to strategize and create new campaigns and content? What are we not doing because we don’t have enough time? Is an opportunity being lost that could be balanced with a spend on outsourcing?

Is outsourcing right for you?

If you are spending too much time executing your direct response programs and too little time interacting with your donors, you may want to consider outsourcing some of your more routine database management functions. You’ll get back to the part of the job you love most.



Wendy Fox is Blackbaud’s Vice President of Information Management and Strategic Services. After a long career with Epsilon, she joined Target Software in 2001 to build the data management services group which went on to become an industry leader. She continued to grow and expand these services after Target Software was acquired by Blackbaud in 2007. Wendy holds a BA in Computer Science and an MS in Business Administration and Management. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with nonprofits and serves on the board of Strategies for Children. She is passionate about innovative technologies that increase access to information, improve decision-making, and enhance the donor experience.

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