Navigating the Multi-Channel Communication Stream

We live in a multi-channel communication world. We send and receive messages via direct mail, email, websites, social media, and our phones. Chances are your nonprofit organization is using all these channels to communicate with donors and other supporters. All of these channels can work, and they can work better if you use them together. 

How do you decide which channel works best for you and integrate all channels in your fundraising and marketing campaigns? Here are a few suggestions.

Which channels do your supporters prefer? 

Just because you have people subscribed to your email list or following you on social media, doesn’t mean they are always using those channels.

How do you know which channels your supporters like? You ask them. Conducting surveys a couple of times a year can be very helpful. You might find out your supporters prefer print newsletters or they are glued to their mobile devices. What works best will be different for every organization, and it will often be a combination of channels.

Once is never enough 
If you only mail out a fundraising appeal, your success rate will be much lower than if you also send out appeals through email and social media. According to a study by Convio (now part of Blackbaud), dual channel donors give an average of $123.29 annually, which is 46% more value to a nonprofit than direct mail only donors.

In addition, we are all very busy and have to contend with messages from a variety of sources. We might miss a fundraising appeal when it comes through the mail or email, but have our aha moment when we get a reminder on Facebook. On the other hand, some people never use social media or email and respond better to direct mail.

Quality vs. quantity 
How often you send out messages depends on the channel. Because of the cost, smaller organizations may only send out direct mail pieces a few times a year. Generally organizations send out email once a week and post on social media a couple of times a day.

But make sure you have something good to say. Don’t just put something on Facebook because it’s been a few days since you posted anything. Make your messages clear, concise, conversational, and compelling. The 4 Cs of Writing Good Content  

I recommend using an editorial calendar to help you plan your multi-channel communication strategy. LightBox Collaborative’s 2013 Editorial Calendar

Keep track 

For every campaign, keep track of how many donors come through each channel. Do the same when you recruit volunteers or hold an event. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. You may not have that many people responding through Twitter because your supporters don’t use it, you haven’t built up a following yet, or you have a lot of followers, but aren’t using Twitter effectively.

Stay consistent 
When you are communicating across channels, make sure your messages and look are consistent. If a donor goes to your website after receiving a fundraising letter, your donation page should have the same message, along with your logo. It’s okay to use exactly the same messages. Just alter them for each channel – e.g. your social media posts will be shorter. Everything you send out needs to look like it’s coming from the same organization. 

All paths lead to your website 
Often when you send out a letter, an email, or a social media post, you are directing people back to your website. Use this checklist to ensure that whatever web page you are sending someone to is effective and engaging. A Website Checklist  

These are a few examples of ways to help you navigate the 

multi-channel communication stream. How do you use multi-channel communication?

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