Let’s Get Personal: And It’s Not Just About Your Name.

Sorry folks, I’m just going to come out and say it. Nonprofit organizations do not practice true personalization.

While many nonprofit organizations profess that they are providing experiences and communications that are “uniquely relevant” to existing and potential donors, the truth is — they’re not quite there yet.

Actually, most are quite far from it.

In its essence, personalization is one-to-one marketing. And our industry is lightyears behind the broader marketing pack.

Personalization is the lynchpin to creating the ultimate donor experience with an organization. And it most certainly goes beyond salutations, gift amounts, variable copy and images, and offer segmentation. Personalization includes ALL transactional and promotional donor interactions — direct mail, online engagement, social media, events, major giving, planned giving, and the list goes on.

Knowing and understanding the total donor engagement is paramount to creating experiences and communications that are “uniquely relevant” to an organization’s current and potential donor base.

In order to create this “personalized donor experience”, all data needs to live in a single CRM. And to my knowledge, organizations operating in a single CRM across all business units are few and far between.

Why? Because for the vast majority of organizations, business unit preferences and budgets dictate the technology stack. The siloed nature of many organizations forces business units to work independently of one another and not in unison. This ultimately disables collaborative decisions, like selecting a single CRM, that can benefit the entire organization.

With each business unit making decisions independently, it’s nearly impossible to create a system that can accurately and seamlessly integrate across platforms.

I know that many organizations will argue that their systems are integrated – yes, some are better integrated than others. But do we really understand how this integration works? How accurate is the data telemetry? What is the match, merge, and dedupe logic?

Speaking from experience, data unification, standardization, and quality control continue to be a problem. And record matching remains a pervasive problem across systems.

So, if we don’t understand and are still struggling with these fundamentals, then how can we claim that marketing and communications are personalized?

We can’t. But we must be in a position to do so.

The bar has been raised by the retail market — donors have higher engagement and experience expectations than ever before. As an industry, we must work towards a total personalized donor experience. And to achieve this, our data must be collected in a single CRM that spans all business units. This is the only way to capture, account for, and react to all donor interactions with an organization.

I just don’t see another way to accomplish this feat. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Talk to me @AmyBMerkleRMG!

Happy fall!

- Amy