Multichannel Fundraising



The Bridge Conference Starts Next Week

The Bridge Conference, one of the must-attend conferences on integrated nonprofit fundraising and communications, kicks off on Wednesday, August 8. The annual gathering co-produced by the DMAW and the DC Chapter of the AFP brings together 1,400+ people who share a common interest in stellar nonprofit marketing, fundraising and communications. If you haven’t already registered, you still can.

And I hope you’ll join Chris Helfrich of the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign, Dennis Lonergan of Eidolon Communications, and me bright and early Wednesday at 8:15am for our boot camp on multichannel fundraising creative.

We’ll be covering best practices in multichannel fundraising and sharing a lot of samples to give you ideas for how to start or jump start your own multichannel efforts. So drop by in person if you can, and be sure to check back here later in August for a recap of our session. Hope to see you there!




Multichannel Reigns at 2012 #DCNonprofit

The DMA Nonprofit Federation’s annual DC Nonprofit Conference wrapped up last week sending 600+ npdm’ers home with ideas and inspiration for their 2012 campaigns. The conference covered a variety of issues and strategic considerations in nonprofit direct marketing, but a few themes dominated this year’s conference both at the podium and in the hallways.

1. Breaking down silos. Nonprofits have been talking about this a LOT at conferences for the past few years. Though the lines between marketing, communications and fundraising have become blurred lately, the walls between those departments are still rigid in many organizations. And nonprofits are still struggling with how to break them down and to weave departments and disciplines together.

Amy Barriale presented a case study on how the African Wildlife Foundation overhauled its direct response program structure to better reflect the interdisciplinary realities of donor/membership development. One of the organization’s biggest changes, an excellent one, was joining its separate online and direct mail fundraising departments under a single umbrella: Membership.

2. Taking action ourselves, in our field. We routinely call our organizations’ donors to action, and we take action ourselves as donors, but few of us think of ourselves as direct marketing activists. Angel Aloma of Food for the Poor gave us a powerful reminder of why we should. Nonprofit postal rate hikes and regulation changes are about far more important things than direct marketing budgets – they affect our organizations’ ability to provide services to people in need. Or as Angel shared, they mean having to say “no, I can’t help you” to a family living in extreme poverty in El Salvador. To learn more and take action on legislative issues that affect nonprofits’ direct marketing efforts, go to the DMA’s action site.

3. Big thinking from small nonprofits. Good direct marketing isn’t just for large nonprofits. The conference showed us that innovation abounds in the programs of smaller nonprofits too. Jill Batcheller of the Lincoln Center shared a case study in which her organization was able to reinstate former members who had been lapsed for as many as twenty years at response rates comparable to or better than new donor acquisition, and at a lower cost. By looking beyond conventional recency targeting, Lincoln Center discovered a significant asset in its deep lapsed member file. Likewise, my colleague Eliza Temeles shared a case study in innovative prospect modeling from another organization overlaying online activity among house prospects as a predictor of response in direct mail acquisition. This organization’s in-house model for targeting prospects was even more predictive than a commercial model tested in the same direct mail acquisition effort.

4. Multichannel, multichannel, multichannel.Without a doubt, all roads at #DCNonprofit led to one place: “multichannel.” There was no shortage of case studies on multichannel campaigns presenting a variety of EM-DM-Web-SMS-SM combinations. Peter Genuardi of Giveo reported a significant lift in email results when sandwiched between two SMS messages, leaving more than a few npdmer’s hungry to try an SMS sandwich in their own programs. But for all of the multichannel configuration successes reported, presenters and attendees alike universally acknowledged that nonprofits’ multichannel programs are still very much in beta. The Polaris Project for instance reminded us that multichannel programs don’t spring up overnight as Johanna Olivas reported that it took the organization a couple of years putting out online content before its website became a significant source of list growth.

One of the newest perspectives on multichannel fundraising to emerge from the conference had to do with the challenges of measuring multichannel results. And the growing consensus was this: stop trying. Or at least, let it go a little.

Steve Froelich of the ASPCA raised this fresh perspective in his panel presentation pointing out “the only reason you ever really need to attribute a gift to a specific source is when you need to decide whose bucket it goes in.” And Steve MacLaughlin of Blackbaud echoed this idea offering this gem among the conversation on Twitter:

It’s understandable that “channel of origin is irrelevant” is an unsettling thought for direct marketers though. By definition, direct marketing is one-to-one and attributable.

On the other hand, we’re not just doing direct marketing anymore, are we?




Integrate Your Year End Campaigns

Recently I attended the DMAW’s monthly luncheon where a packed house turned out to hear Roger Craver, Founder of DonorTrends and editor of The Agitator, share his insights on integrating year end campaigns.

For most, one big lesson had to be this: when Roger Craver’s speaking, you can’t afford to miss it. But in case you did, here are a few words of wisdom from Roger to keep in mind for your year-end campaigns that I shared in a guest post for the DMAW’s blog

Multichannel communications are critical to successful fundraising.

You’ve probably heard this one before. But Roger presented the data to prove why multichannel communications are essential to keeping your donors …

  1. Direct mail donors who have an email address on file are 150% more valuable than direct mail donors without an email on file.
  2. Email addresses shorten the time to achieving a second gift … and more than double the retention rates of one-time first year givers.
  3. An SMS message following a solicitation can increase renewal rates by 25%.
  4. Donors with email addresses give 50% more gifts per donor, and have an average gift that is 67% higher.

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to create a budget for acquiring your donors’ email addresses, mobile numbers and more. A little investment can have a huge impact on your retention rates.

Your donor has changed – and it’s your job to understand what they need.

Younger donors don’t behave like the generation that came before. Donors have changed from a “tell me” generation to a “show me” generation that expects organizations to show them the impact of their support with photos, stories, videos, conference calls and more.  And donors expect you to listen to them and to hear their advice, concerns and opinions on your organization and your issues.

Fortunately, new communication channels are perfectly suited to engaging donors in dialogue … and an organization’s ability to retain its donors will increasingly depend on its ability to do just that.

To create strong, multichannel efforts, organizations have to change how they work.

Good multichannel communications aren’t the sole responsibility of one department. Break down silos with interdepartmental teams empowered to create effective, multichannel campaigns. Also …

  1. Follow the 75% rule. New channels won’t wait around while you craft the perfect tweet. Accept communications that are 75% perfect and 100% on time.
  2. Understand the ROI of each channel. Even when creating a multichannel campaign, be sure that you focus most of your time and energy on channels that have the greatest return on investment.

New technology allows us to go back to old ways of fundraising.

Classic fundraising techniques still work better than anything else. 50% of donors say they were motivated to give because “a friend asked,” and fundraising emails sent by a friend have open rates of 90% (compare that to your last campaign!).

Use new channels to make your campaigns more personal, more timely, and more direct – all the elements that have always led to successful fundraising.

Do you have other great stats on the value of multichannel campaigns – or tips on smart, year-end strategies? We’d love to hear them!




Summer Reading Recommendation: The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising

If you ever find yourself scratching your head about which tools to use for your fundraising efforts – or how to fit multiple channels together – you might want to pick up The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising this summer.

Eliza and I wrote one of the chapters in this new book from Direct Marketing IQ, and it contains eight more from multichannel fundraising thinkers and doers like Roger Craver of The Agitator, Jo Sullivan, Joe Boland of Fundraising Success magazine, and others. It also contains a bunch of robust case studies that illustrate cutting-edge applications of best practices in multichannel fundraising.

While the perspectives, case studies and channels discussed are refreshingly diverse, a few universal principles of multichannel fundraising come through loud and clear in the book. Most notably, whether it’s direct mail, email, telemarketing, mobile, social media, or all of the above, the new terrain of multichannel fundraising is guided by the same old-school basics of good marketing.

Happy reading, and happy Friday!