So Many Channels and Nothing’s On

Today we have many different ways to communicate with our donors and other supporters – direct mail, email, websites, social media, and phones. Your nonprofit organization is probably using all these channels.

All these channels work, and they work better if you use them together, use them properly, and share good content.

Which channels do your donors prefer?
You can have 100 different channels to choose from, but that means nothing if your donors aren’t using them. Think of how many cable channels you have and how many you actually watch.

How do you know which channels your donors like? You ask them. Conducting surveys a couple of times a year can be helpful. You might find out your donors prefer print newsletters or they love using Twitter.

What works best will be different for every organization, and it will often be a combination of channels.

Once is never enough
You’ll have more success with a fundraising appeal or an event invitation if you use a variety of channels. You can send a heads up or save the date by email. Then send a letter or invitation by mail and follow up regularly by email, social media, or phone.

In addition, your donors are busy and are bombarded with information from a variety of sources. DATA NEVER SLEEPS 2.0

She might miss a fundraising appeal when it comes through the mail or email, but makes a donation when she gets a reminder on Facebook. On the other hand, some people never use social media or email and respond better to direct mail.

All channels are not the same
Even if you’re sharing the same content on different channels, you need to know what works best for each channel.

Print and electronic communication are often not interchangeable. Don’t stick a PDF newsletter or brochure on your website unless you intend for someone to print it out. How to stop the PDF from killing your nonprofit communications 

People read print and electronic communication differently. Since most people scan electronic communication (they may scan print, too), use short paragraphs, lots of white space, and at least a 12 point font.

Electronic messages should be shorter and social media, especially Twitter, needs to be very short.

Is there anything good on?
You may have all these channels available, but make sure you have something good to share. Again, think of all the TV shows that are on at one time and how only a few of them are any good.

Don’t just put something on Facebook because it’s been a few days since you posted anything or send out your monthly newsletter without a compelling story.

Be donor-centered and share content they’ll like such as success stories, engaging photos, or just saying thank you. Remember social media is social, so ask questions and start a conversation.

If coming up with all this content for different channels stresses you out, a communications calendar (aka editorial calendar) will be a huge help. Become Your Own Publishing Powerhouse with LightBox Collaborative’s 2014 Editorial Calendar  

Stay consistent 

When 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.

Everything you send out needs to look like it’s coming from the same organization.

Which channels work best for your organization?

Photo by Ludovic Betron via Flickr

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