By now, nonprofits know that the best approach to direct marketing fundraising is via multi-channels.  

Donors who give through more than one channel are over three times more valuable than those who only give through one. Multi-channel donors are also 56% more likely to renew.

Despite multi-channel marketing clearly being a recognized best practice, it can still be quite difficult to implement a true multi-channel program within a nonprofit. More often than not, online and offline efforts take place in parallel universes, with little to no integration.

Break down the silos

If you have separate direct mail and online teams, you are very likely seeing tension between the two. While everyone may agree in theory that a multi-channel approach is best, team members are usually thinking about what is best for their specific program. They often see the “other” team as people they are competing against, rather than seeing them as the team members they should be collaborating with. 

If you are able to, consider creating one cohesive direct marketing team. This team should be responsible for raising a certain amount of money, regardless of the specific channel. When you align the incentives correctly, team members will start thinking about what is best for the donor instead of what is best for their program. And that’s when you will see the strongest results! 

Plan campaigns across channels

When it comes to planning a campaign, direct mail often takes the lead, and online is added in the mix as an afterthought. “Oh, we should add an email follow up.” While that is technically using both channels, it isn’t a truly integrated strategy. 

A better approach is to take a big step back and put together a strategy for the campaign. Then think about the various channels you can use to reach donors. What is the best mix of messages and how can they be timed to be most impactful?

Remember, your messaging should be consistent, but it does not need to be identical. Different techniques, images and lengths work in direct mail than work online. Be creative! You should have the freedom to alter elements to maximize the channel. 

Test which combinations and order of channels work or don’t work. Learn from your experiences, and adjust future campaigns accordingly.

Actively try to move donors from one channel to another

Don’t bucket donors into “online donors” or “offline donors.” This is a trap many nonprofits fall into. Donors are donors, and then should receive communication across as many channels as possible. Remember, donors want to hear from you!

Yes, that means that donors who have only given online should receive direct mail packages, and donors who only give through direct mail should receive online solicitations. You can test this, and likely you will see that adding another communication channel will lift results, even if those donors never chose to give in the other channel. That’s the powerful of multi-channel marketing!  

Acquire donors’ email addresses

It is often easier to move online donors to offline, then the other way around. Even if donors don’t want to donate online, there is so much benefit to getting donors’ email addresses, for your organization and for the donor. Donors who receive email communication, but only give via mail, give 90% more than those donors who didn’t get email communication. 2

But getting those email addresses can be harder than you think- not all donors are willing to part with their email address. You need to give them a reason to do so! What useful information can only your organization provide them with and only through email? Is there a special gift you can send to motivate them to join your email list? 

Promote your emails at events, donor teleconferences, and in your print newsletters. Consider sending out a special postcard highlighting features on your site and explaining the benefits of receiving your emails. 

Integrated Database

A major pain point can be integrating online and offline data. Too often these two sets of data live in two different places. You want to have one main database that houses all data. This likely will mean you need to do regular imports and exports of your data. 

Data integration can be a complex job. The more channels you utilize, the more complicated it can be to have the most recent data and to run reports on overall donor engagement and performance. Make sure you are properly staffed to handle this challenge. 

The numbers don’t lie; Multi-channel marketing benefits your donors and your organization. But many groups are not doing it. If your find yourself on the list of “not doing it,” keep pushing for multi-channel.   Small wins along the way will help build momentum! Give your team members a chance to see how beneficial multi-channel marketing is for donors and for improving overall results.