Stuck in the Mud or Teaming Up to Win?

This fall I went to Plymouth, Wisconsin with a group of friends to take part in the 2016 Wisconsin Mud Run & Obstacle Race. It’s also known as Tough Mudder.

My mission: complete a run through 11 miles of mud with 20+ obstacles unlike anything I’ve encountered; jumping into a dumpster of ice, running through a curtain of live electrical wires, carrying a log for a quarter mile, and immersion into a deep water pit…in the dark.  And the rain. In 55-degree weather.


This event is fun not just because of the outrageous obstacles, but because you do it with your teammates. Working as a team to conquer these wild challenges gives you a great feeling at the end of the race.

A team wins, while an individual wallows in mud

There’s a lesson nonprofit managers can learn from my Tough Mudder experience: A team approach to charitable giving marketing can work much better than having separate fundraisers go it alone.

If I didn’t have my teammates helping me conquer the obstacles, I would not have finished the course. I know my teammates would say the same!

Many nonprofits are organized by product or functional “silos.” Folks running planned gifts, annual giving or major gifts are often separate and don’t always communicate. The result? Missed opportunities and underperformance, because no one knows the big picture with a given donor and how they might navigate the larger “course” they’re on. Individuals can stay stuck in the mud, rather than having the team help move them to higher achievement.

Escape your comfort zone and ditch the silos

It’s official: Silos are out, integration and sharing among nonprofit teams are in. It’s a “blended gifts” approach where the nonprofit knows its business by its donors and their broader giving profile, not just by transactional numbers.

My mud run was way out of my comfort zone. Removing silos will also be out of the comfort zone for a lot of nonprofits. But the times demand it. Donors want to be valued for the entirety of their contributions and legacy, not seen as a transaction or a wall to scale.

Want to de-silo your planned giving marketing? Try integrating with annual giving! Check out our webinar with Patience Boudreaux and Ray Watts, “Plannual Giving,” for some helpful tips.

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