Are We Really Pushing the Envelope?

Bridge Conference — one of the biggest annual conferences for fundraising professionals — has come and gone. Though I did not officially attend this year’s conference, I did head down to National Harbor to meet with clients and colleagues — all of whom were abuzz about our industry and how organizations are leveraging technology in their fundraising programs.

Naturally, I was very excited to hear this, right? Finally, organizations are using technology to complement and strengthen their fundraising program. But is this really the case?

I’m not sure.

In one conversation, I heard about how excited an organization was that it could marry its online and offline sustainer programs. And in another, I heard about how much of a struggle it was to capture and flag a requested donor action in the organization’s database. (And for my shameless plug, these are two things that Merkle Response Management Group [RMG] can easily do.)

So, my fundraising friends, is this really the best we have to offer? I don’t think so. Actually, I know so.

In our industry, there is a very long runway for us to create strategic and technology solutions to level-up our fundraising programs. We have the ability to truly tackle the issues at the core of our business. There are solutions, and they are affordable.

But these solutions do not apply to where you traditionally look to make changes. These solutions are applied after the mail has been received — and revolve solely around how returned mail is processed, sorted, analyzed and responded to. Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all approach to mail and gift processing. This side of fundraising needs the same amount of attention and intentional strategizing as the front end of fundraising.

Yes, a cohesive, seamless and meaningful donor journey is possible. But there needs to be an inherent shift in how we think about caging and gift processing vendors. These partners are the first line of donor engagement and stewardship — they are the eyes and ears of your organization. They handle a treasure trove of donor feedback, and you should use it to your benefit.

So, this post is a bit of a teaser. We’ve developed some impressive donor communication and engagement strategies to help organizations create the optimal donor journey. Not quite a Zappos solution, but a step in that direction.

Talk to me. I would love to hear your feedback from Bridge Conference, and I would love to share more details on how Merkle RMG is using technology to dramatically change the face of gift processing and fundraising. I invite you to contact me at, on Twitter at @AmyBMerkleRMG, or via LinkedIn!


P.S. I will be attending DMA’s Nonprofit Conference in Chicago in a few weeks. If you plan to be there, reach out and let me know. I’d love to meet with you in the Windy City!