Omnichannel vs. Multichannel
In the April issue of FundRaising Success, our cover story featured the nonprofit organization Compassion & Choices, which advocates for the rights of individuals to make their own end-of-life decisions. The organization owes much of its fundraising success to the concept of omnichannel fundraising. Here, we talk with Dennis Lonergan, owner of Eidolon Communications and a pioneer in the use of omnichannel vs. multichannel.
FundRaising Success: What is omnichannel fundraising?
Dennis Lonergan: In the nonprofit arena, omnichannel fundraising is the coordination and integration of fundraising and marketing messages, each on their own as well as to bolster the other. It's an outgrowth of a trend in nonprofit management where development and external relations departments are unifying or brought together under a single umbrella. It's a natural evolution of multichannel fundraising, but much broader.
FS: How is it different from multichannel?
DL: Multichannel originated as the application of direct-mail messaging and tactics across e-mail and telemarketing channels, broadly and within individual campaigns. Have a renewal or appeal campaign, and make sure it's carried out on those three channels, and more recently, Facebook and Twitter. Omnichannel includes fundraising as well as marketing and advocacy messages, delivered in paid media, earned media and direct marketing.
FS: Is it a mind-set or a strategy? Or both?
DL: I think with the unification of development and external relations departments — huge entities in many larger nonprofits — it's an organizational mind-set, a conscious decision to include fundraising within larger communications and marketing objectives.
FS: What has been missing from fundraising messaging up to now?
DL: I'm not sure anything has been missing. It's more that with the rise of social media and other channels that can be used to conduct or support a fundraising campaign, and the increasing sophistication of acquiring and retaining supporters, that it became prudent for the folks in external relations to know what the fundraising folks were doing and vice versa. All too often, fundraising and membership campaigns were conducted in isolation inside many organizations, with their own themes and messages, and the two teams were not talking to one another.