I was talking with my pal Michelle Shefter the other day about online advocacy and fundraising. She mentioned a Convio summit session about raising money from your grassroots activists. I said:
“That’s so old school. Does anyone really keep their lists separate anymore?”
Michelle assured me that there are still many nonprofits where the Development Department keeps the donor list from the grassroots organizing department because they don’t want the grubby activists bothering the members. And that there are also lots of grassroots departments that jealously keep their list away from Development, because they don’t want the greedy fundraising asks to burn out the activists and cause them to unsubscribe.
I’m here to tell you to stop that! And right now.
I’m looking at YOU, grassroots organizers, and YOU, annual giving directors.
There are two reasons why and both of them are good ones.
First, it’s a win-win for both departments. Your activists are people who are engaged in the work of your organization and will want to support your work financially. Your donors are also engaged in the work and will want to support your work with their voices and actions. Simply put, your donors will take action, and your activists will donate. And research shows that donors who are also activists give more, and activists who donate are more loyal.
Second, people out in the world don’t really see your organization in terms of “the development department” and “the grassroots organizing department.” They just see you as your organization, writ large. So it behooves you to make sure you’re speaking to your constituents with a unified voice. That requires coordination and list-sharing between the departments. It’s actually beyond list-sharing – having a holistic view of the entire online community. That’s not always easy – but it’s necessary!
So go forth and integrate. And while you’re at it, how about making sure your organization isn’t managing any other rogue lists of constituents? I’ll bet your event attendees and volunteers will be just as excited about the rest of your fans to take action and donate to support your cause.
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