Year after year, professionals in the sector keep coming back to that dreaded word: “silos.” We see countless articles about how barriers in communication diminish organisational effectiveness, and, just as crucially, how they inhibit constituent engagement. Outdated organisational models that segment departments into their own distinct areas and with their own distinct messaging leave constituents confused and even less connected than before they first engaged. As supporters are increasingly drawn to causes rather than specific organisations, we should listen to their interests and realign ourselves for success.
The connected office
In the Blackbaud Institute’s publication, The Connected Office, we’re addressing these factors and taking a deep dive into how each departmental team can support a cohesive constituent experience. Organisations can adopt a 360-degree view of their office, with constituents as a core focus.
By considering who your constituents are to one department and to your organisation as a whole, you can focus on engaging them with a cohesive, shared strategy while aligning your teams for success. Whether constituents are browsing your annual report, giving to your end-of-financial-year campaign, or volunteering on site, departmental teams can sync up to create a 360-degree view of the office with supporters at the center.
If this has you reflecting on your experience, remember that there are tangible tips you can use to connect your organisation. Though there are many, you might start with these top two:
Partner with other teams.
From grants to programs, to IT and finance, to your executive leaders and beyond, motivate staff to learn about the roles of their departments and the myriad ways they can partner with others. This requires organisations to embrace the fact that fundraising and marketing often work side by side but are not necessarily synonymous! This leads us to try new things, like inviting program teams (often our on-the-ground service providers) to contribute to a social media strategy, or even onboarding development staff onto a strategic planning committee. Welcome departmental intricacies into the fold and support a future where these distinct responsibilities are acknowledged across the organisation. This will help ensure that areas for cross-departmental partnership are first 1) understood, 2) acted upon and 3) embraced.
Focus on the supporters that make your work possible.
By centring your work around constituents, you not only enable the type of supporter-driven frameworks required by today’s standards, but also structure yourself for success. When departmental teams can directly tie their responsibilities back to the constituent, you’re able to understand what mission delivery looks like from multiple points of view and align your teams’ strategies as needed. By staying in your department’s lanes, and strategically swerving into others’, you can better ensure that constituents hear a cohesive message each time they are engaged.
This article was originally published on spENGAGE.