- Fri, June 03 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
On Wednesday, I posted about how too many of us continue to operate in channel siloes,as shown in the 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report from Blackbaud’s Target Analytics company. This sad state of affairs is despite the fact that integrated outreach among channels works best.
This topic is so important, I asked Blackbaud/Target Analytics to share more thoughts on integrated outreach - and how to start the move from siloes to one happy and fertile fundraising farm. Here’s my Q&A with Allison Van Diest. Thanks Allison for the thoughtful answers and tips for nonprofits.
Q: Why do so few nonprofits do multi-channel marketing?
A: I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that so few do multichannel marketing. Certainly every organization I’ve ever interacted with markets through email, direct mail, telephone, tabletop, events, etc. What they aren’t doing is coordinated, thoughtful multichannel marketing. And I think that is due to limitations in technology and organizational culture constraints. On the technology side, it quickly grows wildly complex to manage creative and logistics for targeted marketing through a variety of channels. The ability to create a package that includes email and direct mail (for example), segment it properly, test it, store it, measure its success, and iterate on it, requires heavy-duty management and/or tools that can automate parts of the process. On the cultural side, instead of having a centralized marketing team that is joined at the hip with a centralized fundraising team, both of these groups are siloed from one another and often by the channel that they are assigned to communicate through.
Q: How much are nonprofits to blame for the lagging renewal rates with online giving? Is it poor cultivation online or lack of multichannel marketing?
A: We need to invest in a study to find out the answer to this. My gut tells me that they are more comfortable surrendering contacts to the direct mail machine because they know the return (at an organizational level) on every donor they insert into the direct mail stream. Because they don’t know what they should get out of an online donor, and because they don’t have years of data on what a successful email appeal is for their organization, they are afraid they’ll miss an opportunity by keeping them off the direct mail list. My gut also tells me that any organization that can figure out their optimal 1-2-3 multichannel punch (1 – email explaining the appeal and letting them know the direct mail is coming, but feel free to give now; 2 – direct mail; 3 – reminder email; of course with the ability to opt out of mail along the way if a gift is made) is going to be way ahead of the curve on donor retention and revenue.
Q: Great advice. Can you also provide 2-3 tips for a smallish nonprofit that doesn’t integrate their fundraising online and off – what are the most important steps to take toward a multichannel approach?
A: 1. Get your leadership team around the table and have an open discussion about why you’re not doing this today. Is it resources? Is it siloes? Figure out what might be in your way so you have an opportunity to remove those barriers. If your organization decides you’re still not ready, but you personally think it’s the right thing to do, ask for a follow up meeting next quarter so you can arm yourself with data and case studies that may change their minds.
2. Baseline your performance. What percent of funds come in online today? (one resource they can use for this is on page 9 of the 2010 Online Giving Report) If you’re behind your peer group, consider whether your email communication or your website is the culprit, and work to optimize those before worrying too much about multichannel coordination.
3. When you’re ready to find the multichannel series that will improve your results, follow these steps: 1. Choose a segment of around 10% of the donors that are going to receive your next direct mail piece. 2. If you don’t have email addresses for them, consider appending them through a reputable opt-in source. 3. Surround the direct mail drop with an email “prequel and sequel.” 4. Compare results to your direct mail only control group. 5. Continue testing, comparing, and optimizing. 6. Share your results with your peers so we can all grow smarter about multichannel fundraising!