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DIY Engagement Benchmarking Survey Section 9: Online/Offline Coordination

Resources for coordinating online and offline efforts.

Organizational silos occur when staff members on different functional teams fail to share information and coordinate their work. Back in the old days (you know, like the early 2000's), there were some pretty good excuses for working in silos. There were a very limited number of ways you engaged with any given constituent, so cross-team coordination was less critical. Different teams often had access to different information that they couldn't easily share.

As the internet grew in importance and organizations began hiring online staff, the divide between functional teams, especially “online” and “offline” teams, grew even deeper. No one was sure what to do with these new staffers, and in many cases the online team was totally separated both from other teams and from strategic decision-making.

Those days are over -- or at least they should be. The demand of daily, multichannel interactions with supporters means that successful engagement organizations must integrate their work across teams.

Silos reduce efficiency, spur conflict among staff, and reduce your ability to effectively engage your supporters. But how do you tear down the walls? Here are a few ways to get started.

Start with a theory of change.

A shared understanding of what you're trying to accomplish together can help ease conflict between teams and encourage cooperation. Developing a theory of change with participation by the entire staff can help create that shared understanding and a stronger sense of how the work of an individual or team fits into the big picture.

Give everyone access to the same data.

Every person on the staff who interacts with your supporters should have access to the same data about the organization's interaction with that supporter. Part of the reason the development director would get angry when an organizer calls her best donor with a volunteer ask is that the organizer had no idea they were calling a donor. If you're calling someone to volunteer you should know that they just gave $100 at your last house party. And if you're calling someone for a $1000 check you better know that they volunteered to run the AV system at your auction. I guarantee you that in both of those cases, using that information to personalize your request will make it more effective.

Make sure the right people are at the table when strategic decisions are being made.

Make sure that the right staffers are at the table when strategic decisions are being made. In 2012, that means your new media team should be represented along with communications, fundraising, organizing and policy staff. The 2008 Obama campaign offered a great model for integrating your new media team with the rest of your staff -- you can read more here.

Organize your work around campaigns.

We define a campaign as an integrated effort with a clear goal. A campaign could be anything from an advocacy effort around a specific piece of legislation to a stream restoration to a major event. One huge benefit of campaign-centric planning and organizing is that it's easier and more effective to coordinate across functional teams. Campaigns work best when they're multifaceted. There's no better or more effective online fundraising pitch than one that's tied directly into other meaningful work. And by effectively coordinating across teams, you can give your supporters a variety of ways to get involved in a campaign they care about.

Make sure you have the right incentives in place.

Set goals at the campaign level, and make at least some of your goals shared responsibilities. If you're using an Engagement Pyramid to track your relationships, then try setting goals around engagement rather than separate goals for fundraising and volunteers.

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