fundraising: integration explained

We use the phrase “integrated income solutions” in talking about our work for nonprofits and ministries. It isn’t unusual for a prospective client to ask, “exactly what does an ‘integrated income solution’ look like?” Sean Corcoran with Forrester Research had a terrific post that helps illustrate our point. Sean explained “earned, owned and paid media” which helps with the “what does it look like” question.

Sean used this chart to illustrate the three kinds of media (we might say “channels”).

3 types of media

Sean says:

Owned media is a channel you control. There is fully-owned media (like your website) and partially-owned media (like Facebook fan page or Twitter account). Owned media creates brand portability. Now you can extend your brand’s presence beyond your web site so that it exists in many places across the web — specifically through social media sites and unique communities.
Earned media “is an old PR term that essentially meant getting your brand into free media rather than having to pay for it through advertising. However the term has evolved into the transparent and permanent word-of-mouth that is being created through social media.”



“Paid media” is clear enough, that’s what you buy. For many nonprofits, Paid media would include direct mail, outbound telemarketing, radio or television spots, etc.

When we talk about “integrated income solutions” we’re saying that successful organizations will learn how to unify these 3 types of media so that they complement each other and work together. A classic mistake many NPOs make is that their direct mail and online presence aren’t congruent — huge error. The Nonprofit Times reported way back in 2008 that 44% of the people who received direct mail did online research about the organization. I don’t have the a more current stat, but you know that number has increased dramatically. If your online presence and your mail don’t work together, you’re wasting your money.

Here’s a few conclusions for you to consider:

  • Direct Mail isn’t dead yet. I’ve written about this and feel strongly that it’s only a matter of time, but for now, most charities have to continue with direct mail fundraising. It works. You certainly have to be smart and if you read this blog much you know that we believe the old ways of doing direct mail aren’t effective or efficient. In fact, for the record, mailing more pieces to more people, which is what many are doing, is just plain stupid.
  • Social Media (“Owned” media) doesn’t replace Paid media. Few can use Owned media as the primary vehicles for fundraising.
  • Earned media often comes from executing good strategies with Paid Media and Owned Media. We love the concept of contagious marketing (as opposed to so called viral marketing) and to David Meerman Scott’s concept of creating a Rave, but as Sean’s chart points out, Earned media isn’t something you can control. Which is why we prefer the word “contagious” to the “viral” since the best you can do is make sure your message is easy to sneeze.
  • So what do you think? Does this way of looking at integration make sense to you? What about your organization, are you using all three types of media? Which is most challenging?


    Steve Thomas
    Partner, Oneicity

      Steve Thomas

      Steve Thomas

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