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Membership, Marketing, & Communications Alignment

Sales and Marketing Alignment in Nonprofits

Does alignment between your membership, marketing, and communications departments impact your effectiveness? There is much discussion in the for profit community about sales and marketing alignment. In this article, I outline some key points from a white paper which sparked my thoughts here on the importance of alignment as it may apply to the nonprofit community.

The Need for Alignment In Your 

Nonprofit & Association

“Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth – while less well-aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.” Aberdeen

As mentioned, I recently read a white paper produced by bpmonline, a commercial Customer Relationship Management software provider. The white paper is titled “Connecting the Dots Between Marketing, Sales and Service to Nimbly Manage a Complete Customer Journey”.

In short summary, the white paper outlines how a for profit company’s sales and marketing teams often have a complex, sometimes contentious, relationship with one another. On one hand, both sides realize that they need to work together in order to meet their demand and revenue goals. On the other hand, many sales and marketing teams barely speak to one another – never mind working together.

3 Takeaways on Alignment Between Sales and Marketing 

Granted, this argument and suggestions are focused on suggestions for the for profit business world, but as with some situations the message can be applied to the nonprofit community too. Here are my three key takeaways:

  1. Blended processes improve performance – Blending sales, marketing and service into a single process ensures that performance numbers continue to improve. For nonprofits, this means membership renewals, new memberships and similar metrics improve.

  2. Integrating on a single platform is crucial – Integrating sales, marketing, and service creates a better experience for customers. The same should be true of members and donors.

  3. Make better use of current resources – Increase the reach and effectiveness of current marketing efforts by running a unified marketing communications strategy. This is the ideal way to attract and keep members and supporters.

Statistics seem to support the value of investing resources to align marketing, sales and service. Here are a few more statistics which resonated with me most:

  1. Businesses with optimal alignment realized 50% more growth in sales-ready leads

  2. 33% of organizations cited stated a lower cost for each lead.

  3. Businesses with integrated marketing, sales and service were better at keeping customers. In fact, 82% of customers whom thought about leaving but stayed.

  4. The same report indicated that 72% of clients made more purchases.

What about Alignment in Nonprofit Organizations? 

Think about this for a moment in terms of the benefits which may apply to your nonprofit but substitute the nomenclature (Ex. Sales professional for membership/development) a bit and focus on the key performance metrics which matter to you most in a 501(c)3 or Association.

  1. What if your association could grow your membership by 50%?

  2. What if your nonprofit could attract more donors for less marketing spend?

  3. What if your association could retain more members due to better alignment?

  4. What if your association could improve your non-dues revenue purchases?

Alignment is about one thing: communication. If sales and marketing (again substitute membership for sales) can’t learn how to work together as a single team, speak the same language, and exchange information freely, then all the technology in the world won’t make a difference.

What Should be Considered to Attain Optimal Alignment in Nonprofits? 

How do industry experts suggest that alignment may work in the real world?

  1. Personas: As with others, I believe everyone needs to have the same idea on your ideal profile of a donor or member type. This is the first step.

  2. Messaging: Everyone needs to be on board with your message. It must be tight, focused, and personalized. You may need to review every touchpoint a constituent has with your organization- across departments and channels, get your teams together, identify them, and write down in chronological order how they move through the join process, event notifications, etc.

  3. Metrics: Monitor and measure the important things.

  4. Handoff: When does membership or development staff get involved in cultivating a new member or donor. Who is responsible and when? The role for each department needs to be understood and managed.

  5. Follow up: I have worked with many marketing, membership, and development officers over the years and it’s amazing to me to find how there is a disconnect on workflow and processes on the simplest things like follow up. When someone joins or donates, what type of follow up is in place to engage them and continually cultivate existing members.

What Technology Should be Considered in Your Nonprofit? 

While the key performance indicators are certainly different in the nonprofit industry, I believe that proper alignment is warranted in a nonprofit too. And, this goal may be realized in some degree by the pursuit of a unified and integrated membership system (CRM software) to assist in keeping everyone on the same page; looking at the same records, history, activities, communications, website activity, & even standardization of the agency messaging.

The mere fact of using the same technology platform, your association may be better prepared to recruit new members, keep current members happy, and retain members. Software tools such as CRM and likely even more importantly Email marketing or Marketing automation software may help establish enterprise wide alignment via a centralized database & unified messaging policy to help bring harmony and inner peace to all. Kumbaya!

If you would like to know more about technologies which may help in achieving better alignment at your nonprofit, please contact us. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Technology Tips for Alignment in Nonprofits


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