Integrated Fundraising: Digital Fundraising and Direct Mail

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 16, 2017 10:31:27 AM / by Sean Finnegan and Adam Cassandra

Integrate your digital fundraising and direct mail 

Integrated fundraising is becoming essential for nonprofits to be able to leverage all available avenues of donor solicitation to reach their donors and potential donors. Your donors find you in different ways, so you should reach them in different ways as well.

The technique involves coordinating the various fundraising channels of a nonprofit organization into a single unified effort. Put simply, everything in your fundraising must work in unison.

Integrated fundraising doesn’t mean you are using social media or email to simply communicate with your donors. It means that all these channels, along with direct mail, major gift solicitations and fundraising events, are working together for the same goal: increasing donations. In short, it is a holistic approach to fundraising.

If your nonprofit hasn’t started integrating your fundraising channels, it should be a top priority. Integration will surely boost response rates and donor participation, and ultimately increase your ROI.

Integration is a must across every channel, but here we are going to focus on the two major fundraising channels where most nonprofits begin their integration efforts: digital fundraising and direct mail.

Here are five tips for your nonprofit to keep in mind as you start down the path of integrated fundraising:

1. Communication Across Departments

Your separate campaigns need to become one campaign. No longer is there a direct mail campaign, an email campaign and a social media campaign. Now, they are one.

This integrated campaign will have several moving parts, and someone needs to manage them all so they function as a single unit. This either means shuffling departments or ensuring constant communication between each department so that messaging, timing and design are consistent.

The goal is to coordinate messaging towards a single purpose so as to move donors to a specific action. Emails should not ask for a new roof, when direct mail is asking for help with school expenses.

And the success of the campaign is not judged by the success of an individual channel but as a whole. Direct mail may see a slight drop in total gifts while email sees an increase, but that does not mean all your resources should focus on email. Not at all. It is the total gifts that should concern you.

2. Use Direct Mail as a Guide

Direct mail is here to stay. A few years back, many people were claiming direct mail was becoming a thing of the past. They were wrong.

According to Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, online donations to nonprofits only comprised 7.2% of total gifts last year. That means about 93% of donations came through traditional means, including direct mail.

People still trust mail, especially mail that is personalized and concerning a topic important to them. About 70% of Americans, view a letter addressed to them, while only about 25% of nonprofits emails are even opened.

Direct mail is still producing great returns, and that’s a good thing. Let that success guide your fundraising efforts. Modify your most successful direct mail creative appropriately for email and social media. The language, design, and even delivery dates of each letter should inform when you send emails, or what picture you post on Facebook and Twitter, or what you tweet.

3. Keep Your Language Consistent

This was briefly mentioned above, but make sure your language is consistent across channels, but also be sure to appropriately modify your messaging. Find the language that has proven most successful in the past and utilize that in each channel.

Again, direct mail is a great guide, but the language, (and length,) of a direct mail letter is not the same as the language and length of an email. This is true for Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

This is where testing the impact of language according to the channel is so important. Your campaign may be asking for donors to help with providing a new roof, and that should be consistent across the various channels. But try to find which type of language works best for each of your audiences.

4. Timing Is Key

People are learning about your nonprofit and your efforts in different ways and, at different times, which you can’t necessarily control. But you can control the messages coming directly from your nonprofit, and you should consider when each message will reach the donor. This timing should be carefully coordinated to maximize action.

For example, you should have a good sense of when a direct mail package will land in your donor’s mailbox. This means you can send an email letting the donor know that the letter is coming, and follow up with the donor after it has arrived. Your Facebook posts and tweets should do the same.

There are studies that suggest people need to see an advertisement seven times before they respond. Sending the same direct mail letter seven times isn’t practical, but your nonprofit can utilize your other channels of communication to transmit your message effectively and spark action.

5. Drive to Other Channels

A study conducted several years ago found donors are “more than three times likelier to give online in response to a direct mail appeal than an e-appeal.” Aside from likely proving the necessity of integrated fundraising, this also means you need to make it easy for donors to find you in different places.

And just as importantly, each channel of communication should point out and remind the donor to look for them your nonprofit on those other channels, and if appropriate, to give there. Create designated landing pages for every campaign. In your direct mail letter, publish the URL. Let the readers know in the letter, that they can learn more about the campaign online, and even give. As with all fundraising, if you don’t tell them they wont do it. As mentioned above, use email and social media to announce and follow up on your direct mail.

Another important point to remember is to make sure all of your online communications are mobile-friendly: “The percentage of online donations made to nonprofits using mobile devices jumped 8% in just two years according to recently released data from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report.”

Integrated fundraising is more then a trend. Applying a sound strategy and discipline to your fundraising efforts will certainly deliver results. Use these tips to start your integrating right away.


 

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