Using multi-channel marketing to boost your fundraising
Multi-channel marketing (also known as omnichannel marketing) is a marketing tactic that is just how it sounds—a way to spread your message using multiple channels and tactics to reach audiences where they are most apt to receive your information. With all of the channel options available now (not to mention the multiple generations in our donor pools) it’s no wonder that nonprofits who use multi-channel marketing approaches often see a boost in their fundraising efforts.
Before jumping into multi-channel marketing, it’s important to understand how each of the “big four” – direct mail, email, social media and telephone/SMS – work (and work together) to encourage online gifts. Break out of your channel silos and strategize to have all your channels reinforcing one another. Today, we explore these top four tactics and provide insight into how to use them effectively to tell your story and boost your dollars raised.
‘Tis the season for postal mail—your direct mail and year-end asks included. Think about telling a story of impact and carrying that theme through all of your channels. Start by using direct mail pieces to include imagery, background/context and quotes to drive your message home. Always be thinking about how that story can continue online. While you may include a return envelope for donations, make it abundantly clear and easy for donors to give online (save a stamp!)
Include steps to give online, and a short URL (it has to be easy to type in) or QR code to your donation page. Tie in your SMS (text-to-give) options as well by using short codes and ways to give through mobile devices. Always include additional ways to reach you online in your print materials as well—social media chiclets are great; take them one step further by including your organization’s handle as well to take the guesswork out of searching for you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Additional direct mail ideas to inspire you:
As donors find you on social media (through cross-promotion from your direct mail materials!) think about the content you want them to see and how your story will continue on these digital channels. I call this the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your content shouldn’t be focused on fundraising—you don’t want to be the person that just talks about him or herself before building a relationship and rapport for why someone might want to give.
The majority of your content should be around stories of impact, blog posts, educational content and even “why I gave” stories. For instance, Humane Society of New York has a Pinterest board that shows the impact of its program—dogs that have been adopted. Wellroot Family Services uses videos on Facebook for live Q&As and testimonials of their foster parent programs.
The other 20 percent can focus on strong CTAs (calls to action) and ways to donate. Save the Manatee does a good job of this on Twitter (see their tweets from year-end last December) but also provides a good mix of thank you posts and general knowledge/education for its audience.
While most of what you will post on social media during year-end will be to reinforce why your work is important and the impact you have, be sure to reinforce themes used throughout the year and publish resourceful content multiple times a week. And most importantly, be active where your donors are—not just where you are comfortable. Provide content on the channel that is relevant to them.
Additional social media ideas to inspire you:
In 2018, email messaging drove 13% of all online revenue for nonprofits in 2018 and those nonprofits sent an average of 59 email messages per subscriber. Email is not dead. Don’t be afraid to use it and, in my opinion, send more emails than you think you should. Weekly emails are not unheard of and can be quite effective.
Many third-party email platforms have tools that will automatically resend an email to anyone who hasn’t opened it in a time period that you specify. Setting those parameters up can also provide a reprieve and automation for you and your team.
Consider the following three qualities when sending a great fundraising email:
- Employ emotional storytelling. There’s that story of impact again. Describe how you helped someone or something due to donors’ support; tug at their heart.
- Don’t stress about design. The 80/20 rule strikes again! This time, it’s related to your text to images ratio. The simpler your email, the better chance it has to get delivered. Sending an email with mostly text and one image that represents the work you do is A-OK. Simple messaging with clear, simple links is best.
- Have one call to action. Make it clear and make it prominent. Don’t bury your link and don’t confuse readers with calls to donate, volunteer and sign up for an event. Provide one call to action that explicitly asks for a gift.
Additional email ideas to inspire you:
Telephone and SMS
There are ways to use your voice, too. Plan time for follow-up calls after your direct mail pieces hit mailboxes to continue sharing your story. Thank the donor for their previous support and remind them that they can easily make a gift online by rattling off a short URL. Encourage them to view videos, testimonials or even sign up for your email list once they are there. Tap into volunteers or others who have been impacted by your organization to help make these types of calls.
Remember we talked earlier that stories of impact work? You can share this story through text-to-give (SMS) programs, too. Start your story via text and then encourage people to “view the rest online” via a link that will lead them to an online video, campaign landing page or donation page. Create suspense and curiosity to draw them online.
Additional SMS ideas to inspire you:
With technology at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to share your nonprofit’s story of impact through multiple avenues to encourage online giving and increase your fundraising game.