7 Ideas For Multi-Channel Break-Throughs

You know your donors go online, use social media and read and respond to email. And, you know that your fundraising program (which might have been just direct mail until recently) needs to be “multi-channel.”

But, how do you make it happen? And, what are the best practices?

John Perell, director, direct response of the Smithsonian Institution, along with Lara Koch, associate director, digital philanthropy for the Smithsonian, and Stuart Schear, vice president for communications of the American Jewish World Service, discussed how to do just that in their presentation “Multi Channel Madness” during Fundraising Day in New York, put on by the New York City Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Their session was moderated by Lisa Maska, CFRE, partner at Lautman Maska Neill & Company.

Together, the speakers shared what works for their programs. Here are seven ideas:

  • Meet your donors where they are. Most donors read their mail and respond through the mail. They also go online and respond to emails. They likely are active on Facebook. You need to be everywhere your donors are. One easy way to do this is to include URLs on mail pieces.

  • Collaboration is key. Internal departmental coordination, content development, project management, external vendor integration, as well as integrated messaging and creative, are all critical. Everyone needs to be part of the plan and the process.

  • Integrated campaigns help raise more money in both channels. You’ll have the best success when you add email to support your donor mailings — including renewals, appeals, reinstatements, and upgrades. It’s especially effective with time-sensitive efforts like matching gift campaigns.

  • Standalone digital campaigns (not tied to mail) are also really effective. Examples include online email acquisition, year-end pushes in December, fiscal year-end pushes (if your fiscal year is not calendar year), Kickstarter campaigns, and Giving Days (like Giving Tuesday, and the host of regional philanthropy days that have sprung up).

  • Online cultivation is inexpensive and cost-effective. The sky’s the limit. You can send thank-you messages, e-newsletters, breaking news updates, engagement opportunities and e-cards.

  • Don’t forget lightboxes. These are great at year-end, fiscal year-end, and around special campaigns.

  • If you send more email at year-end, you will raise more money. The Smithsonian has 64 unique touchpoints (mail, email, telemarketing) throughout November and December, and the emails AJWS sends out on December 31st alone account for 20 percent of all year-end digital revenue.