Special Report: Multi-channel Fundraising
Nonprofit direct-response fundraising programs historically have centered around one channel, usually direct mail. But as other channels become more viable and new ones emerge — can you say W-E-B? — innovative organizations have become aggressive in incorporating them into their fundraising mix.
But it’s more than a simple matter of adding on. As fundraising has evolved, organizations have found that multiple channels must be integrated — and integrated well — to work. The messaging must be the same, or at least purposefully complementary, and the look consistent to create the deepest resonance and best possible response across all channels, thus boosting overall response.
Multi-channel integration isn’t rocket science, but it does require leadership buy-in, planning, testing, follow-through and measurement. And despite the headway the nonprofit sector is making into the multi-channel stratosphere, even the most advanced organizations are still laying road and smoothing out rough spots.
Here, weaved in with advice from professionals at some of the top fundraising consultancies in the country, are some anecdotes from the field.
In late 2003, the Chicago Metropolitan Division of The Salvation Army ran an awareness advertising campaign on television, radio and bus shelters, but there was no direct response, no way to gauge the effect or enlist new direct-response donors.
Lt. Col. David E. Grindle, divisional commander for the regional organization, decided he wanted a fundraising campaign with a singular message integrated across all the mediums the organization used — PSAs, billboards, bus stop signs and direct mail.
In 2004, the organization teamed with the Grizzard Agency to launch a multi-channel acquisition campaign for the holidays called “Please Don’t Forget,” built around the theme of remembering the poor. The idea was to expand the organization’s reach outside of its direct-mail audience. Grizzard created an integrated campaign featuring TV wraps, print ads, free-standing inserts and subway ads, which echoed the message and look of the direct-mail appeal sent to the organization’s 350,000 donors. Most ads featured both the organization’s Web site URL and a toll-free number people could call to donate.