I'm a fundraising nerd, so I love hearing how organizations of all different shapes and sizes tackle year-end appeals, and how they integrate those campaigns into their ongoing fundraising.
I've stopped cataloging and analyzing every direct-mail appeal I get (it had turned into a monumental project). But still, I can't help but poll a few dozen fundraisers each year to find out what they're doing, how it's working, and what I can learn and apply to my own work.
The message I heard after year-end 2010 was clear: One-off appeals (whether letters or e-mails) don't work well anymore. These days, the organizations with the most direct-response moxie are the ones that craft engaging campaigns with many touchpoints. Multipronged campaigns not only raise money — they build deeper relationships that pay off over time.
The best recent example of this from my own backyard is the National Military Family Association, which made the leap into full-on multichannel campaigns with great results in 2010. It raised more money online and off than in any previous year and doubled its total gifts received from the previous year. Because NMFA rocks, the staff has agreed to let me share some of the lessons that contributed to its campaign, which brought in close to $450,000 in roughly two months. (Full disclosure: NMFA is also a client of mine.)
Here are a few of the lessons learned from the NMFA's successful multichannel fundraising worth sharing:
1. Link your campaign to the Mother Brand
Part of the strength of this campaign was that the theme — Stand Behind Military Kids — connected directly to NMFA's goal to be known as the voice for military families. The campaign's look, feel and messages all flowed from the organization's brand, which helps reinforce what it does. While it's fun creatively to come up with new colors, imagery, logos and lines for each campaign, that approach can take more time, cost more money and ultimately doesn't do much to educate your donors about your work beyond that one campaign.