Wed, June 01 2011

Welcome to the silo: The sad dearth of multichannel marketing

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Many studies in the past couple of years come to the same conclusion, quite rightly: The best way to build a relationship with donors is to acknowledge the fact that people like to give in a variety of venues: email, direct mail, Facebook,etc.  There are not just pure “online donors” and “direct mail” donors - there are donors who choose to mix it up.  So multichannel marketing is key to a fertile fundraising landscape.

Unfortunately, we’re still in channel siloes, according to the 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report from Blackbaud’s Target Analytics company.  It says that although multichannel giving has become a popular objective of nonprofits as a way to build constituent support, it is not widely practiced.  People who start giving online are mostly likely to keep giving when approached via different channels, including direct mail.  But we’re not cultivating them that way.

Not good.

Other key findings about online donors include:

• The majority of gifts are still received through direct mail, although it has become increasingly common for new donors to give their first gift online.
• Online-acquired donors are significantly younger and tend to have higher household incomes than mail-acquired donors.
• Online-acquired donors tend to give much larger gifts but have slightly lower retention rates than mail-acquired donors.
• In aggregate, online-acquired donors have much higher cumulative value over the long term than traditional mail-acquired donors. However, long-term value varies depending on the donor’s origin gift level, and the substantially higher gift amounts given by online-acquired donors can mask issues with retention.

According to Blackbaud: “The data presented in the Report comes from the most recent transactional data available for the 28 organizations participating in Target Analytics’ donorCentrics online benchmarking service in 2010. The organizations that participate in these online benchmarking groups are prominent national nonprofits covering a range of sectors, including animal welfare, the environment, health, human services, international relief, and societal benefit.”

You can read the whole report here.  I also recommend the commentary here—it importantly notes:

Don’t confuse communication channel with giving channel.  Even though this study included organizations with more than average sophisticated online giving programs, only 10% of their gifts actually come in online. Analysis involving a wider range of nonprofits shows only 7.6% of revenue is given online.ii Yet, 69% of donors of all ages prefer electronic over print communication from nonprofits.iii It is clear that online communication cannot be confused with online giving. What is interesting to understand, however, is why online communication does not always translates into online giving. Many organizations use online communication to supplement direct mail appeals, both to alert that a direct mail piece is pending or to remind that a direct mail piece was sent. One possibility is that these donors are being trained to respond offline. It is reasonable that coordinated online communication can make direct mail more effective. Additional research should be done to understand the perfect package for combining email with direct mail and for email to drive online giving. While direct mail is still worth the far larger investment it receives, donors’ preference for online communication should be honored and leveraged.

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