Optimizing Multichannel Fundraising
By Rob Ruchotzke, Consultant
Years ago, I sent an email solicitation to thousands of college alums as part of a multichannel fundraising campaign in which every person’s salutation read “Dear [first name].” That email merge mistake was embarrassing, and it was a direct result of me trying to single handedly manage all donor communication. Since then, I have been a proponent of bringing a team approach to multichannel fundraising, and believe that leaning on fundraising, communication, database, and digital experts, as well as your colleagues, provides an extra measure of success.
Multichannel campaigns use more than one communications tool for donor outreach and fundraising. Direct mail, email, social media (such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), and digital tools (such as text-to-give) are all channels used in donor communications.
Coordinating fundraising and other donor communications across multiple channels is proven to have a higher success rate than using a single channel. According to Nonprofits Source, marketing campaigns that used direct mail along with one or more digital media tools experienced a 118% increase in response rate compared to those that only used direct mail.
A 2020 study found that multichannel donors give as much as three times more than single channel donors, and are more likely to keep giving year after year.
Whether you are new to multichannel fundraising or expanding from three channels to five, there are a few key ideas to keep in mind.
How to begin multichannel fundraising
Tailor your message
Your case for support must be tailored to your brand, campaign, and, most importantly, your audience. Using similar content and graphics across all your channels will reinforce your message and brand identity. Start by creating a long form message for your printed solicitation letter, then pare it down for an email version, pull out human impact stories to highlight in a video script, and emphasize one or two sound bytes with relevant hashtags for social media. Anchor each communication within your multichannel appeal to your giving page. Don’t let the donor get distracted by linking to social media pages; instead, make it easy for people to land in one consistent place with a prominent “give” button.
- Consultant Tip: A key tactic to help drive donor engagement is to personalize correspondence to show your constituents you know them. You’ll also want to tailor several versions of your solicitation note to distinct types of supporters: leading donors should receive a different message than someone who has never donated before.
Choose channels wisely
It is crucial for nonprofits to adapt and learn how and when to best communicate with dedicated supporters; it would not be advisable, for example, to invest time and resources into Facebook if it is not where your stakeholders read about you. Determine what options are available to your organization and are realistic for you to implement. While text messaging services or digital ads might seem intimidating, their implementation is straightforward, they are relatively cost effective, and they have proven success especially with younger audiences.
- Consultant Tip: Educate your donors on the channels you offer so they are comfortable with the different approaches to giving. For example, try emailing and snail-mailing an instructional segment about a text-to-give option or include it as a story-telling video on YouTube. Whichever channels you choose to communicate, be ready to respond to comments and questions, such as those that come via social media, in a timely way.
Here are samples from a personalized multichannel fundraising campaign for the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. The museum combined a direct mailing with social media and email to amplify their messaging.
Test first and analyze along the way
How you test to ensure you are ready to launch a multichannel fundraising campaign depends on the capabilities of your data and communications platforms. Send out test emails, texts, and other communications through each channel so you can be confident in your approach. Testing adds an extra day or two to get a representative sample and receive feedback or edit, but it is well worth it (and you won’t send out a letter with incorrect merge fields in the salutation like I did!)
Evaluation during and after a multichannel fundraising campaign is equally important. Schedule dedicated time with your team to review and analyze your multichannel results and adjust your course as you discover new data. It is imperative to determine which channels are the most effective and how you can improve communications and outreach in the next campaign.
- Consultant Tip: Evaluation of donor data for each multichannel effort is important to determine what channels are most successful, if there are new donor segments emerging, and who needs additional personalized attention, such as a phone call or meeting.
Increase engagement with multichannel fundraising
Your donors are passionate about what you do, and you want them to continue to feel connected to your mission through donor stewardship. When you provide a seamless journey for them to connect with you in various ways and more often, you are increasing engagement. Engaged donors are more likely to volunteer, attend events, and tell friends about your work.
- Consultant Tip: The practice of employing multiple platforms is not only for your primary annual campaign. Take advantage of multichannel donor communications across all the phases of the donor cultivation cycle.
Multichannel Fundraising with CFA
At CFA, we can help you reach your audience strategically and transform your fundraising results. A development assessment is a great resource to help identify your unique donor communications opportunities, and partners like CFA can help you with a strategy for using multichannel fundraising as part of campaign counsel.
Contact us today to learn how we can partner with you.
Rob Ruchotzke, Consultant
Rob Ruchotzke focuses on annual giving strategy, development assessments, campaign feasibility studies, and campaign counsel. Rob comes to CFA with nearly a decade of annual giving experience in higher education institutions. Most recently, Rob served as the director of annual giving at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where he led multichannel campaigns, developed crowdfunding platforms, managed annual giving vendors, and served as the strategy lead for UNI’s Day of Giving (#LivePurpleGiveGold).
A native of Camanche, Iowa, Rob holds a BA in Public Relations from the UNI and resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa.