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Multichannel donor outreach: A guide for nonprofits

February 08, 2022
A woman sitting in front of a computer looks pensively as she plans multichannel donor outreach.

Donors have different preferences for how they like to engage with nonprofit organizations. For instance, some donors may prefer receiving email updates, while others may enjoy receiving handwritten letters in the mail. By reaching out to supporters through a variety of communication channels, including email, social media, online ads, and direct mail, you can cater to these preferences and maximize your fundraising potential.

In this guide, we'll explore what multichannel donor outreach is and how you can use it to pursue your purpose. Let's get started!

What is multichannel donor outreach? 

Multichannel donor outreach is the process of using multiple communication channels, such as email, direct mail, social media, and mobile, to engage with donors. With multiple touchpoints, you can reach as many prospective supporters as possible and increase your fundraising potential.

What is the ideal frequency for multichannel donor outreach?

The ideal frequency for multichannel donor outreach varies depending on an organization's size, goals, and donors' preferences. It's generally recommended to strike a balance between staying top of mind with donors and not overwhelming them with too many messages. 

A good starting point is to aim for 1-2 communications per month per channel, but this can be adjusted based on your needs at a given time. For instance, during campaigns like GivingTuesday, it’s acceptable to send multiple messages over the course of a few days. 

4 tips for optimizing multichannel donor outreach

With the basics of multichannel donor outreach in mind, you can begin crafting your campaigns and appealing to donors. Use these four tips for the best results:

1. Identify a target audience

Before launching a multichannel marketing strategy, take the time to identify your target audience. This will ensure that your time and resources go toward people who are most likely to support your cause. 

To identify your target audience, begin by: 

  • Analyzing donor data. Scan through your database to find donors who are highly engaged and invested in your current initiative. For instance, if you’re hosting a capital campaign to build a homeless shelter, you might target major donors and active volunteers. 
  • Conducting prospect research. Prospect research is the process of using public records to determine a person’s capacity and willingness to give to your cause. After taking into account both philanthropic and wealth indicators, you can target people outside of your supporter base who you know will resonate with your cause and respond positively to your appeals.  
  • Solicit feedback. Send out surveys to current supporters to gather feedback about their communication preferences. This can help you narrow down which platforms to use for your outreach.

Once you identify your nonprofit’s target audience, begin tailoring your outreach to their preferences, motivations, and interests.

2. Personalize your messages

Tailoring your messages to individual donors can increase engagement and responsiveness. Start by using segmentation to group donors based on shared characteristics and personalize your messages according to their unique needs and interests. 

Common donor segments for multichannel donor outreach include:

  • New Donors: New donors require specialized communications that inspire their continued involvement. Provide them with relevant information about the impact of their donation and opportunities for future engagement. 
  • Major Donors: Speak to the impact that major donors have on your organization and offer exclusive opportunities that align with their level of giving. 
  • Lapsed Donors: Re-engage lapsed donors by expressing your appreciation for their past involvement and encourage them to give again. 

You can also segment donors based on their geographic location, employment status, or volunteer history, depending on your needs. For example, while promoting a hybrid fundraising event, you might send in-person invitations to supporters within your community and choose to send a virtual invite link via email to those living outside of the area. This level of personalization will more effectively engage supporters.

3. Create a consistent message across channels

Sending the same message across multiple channels is an effective strategy for nonprofits looking to reach a wider audience and maximize engagement. However, it’s still important to adapt your messaging to different channels and platforms. For example, a message sent via email might be longer and more detailed, while a social media post might be shorter and more visually engaging. 

Let’s say you run an animal shelter and your goal is to drive traffic to the donation form on your website. Here’s how you would create a consistent message across the following channels: 

  • Web: Create a dedicated landing page for the donation form. Then, embed pop-ups or banners throughout your main website encouraging users to visit the page.
  • Email: Write a longer, more detailed newsletter with images of animals, testimonials from volunteers, and a direct link to the donation form. 
  • Direct Mail: Craft a visually appealing postcard that describes your need for donations and includes a QR code to your donation form. 
  • Social Media: Post images and videos of the animals in your care along with a relevant hashtag and a call-to-action (CTA) to visit the link in your bio to access the donation form. 

Maintain consistency in your messaging, tone, branding, and overall theme across communication channels. Doing so will strengthen your message and improve brand recognition.

4. Evaluate and adapt

Track the success of your multichannel outreach strategy and make any necessary adjustments to continuously improve upon your performance. Some common marketing metrics to track for multichannel donor outreach include:

  • Conversion rate: The percentage of people who took a desired action, such as donating, out of the total number of people who were reached through a particular channel.
  • Response rate: The percentage of recipients who responded to your outreach out of the total number of people who received the message.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): The amount of revenue generated or money saved as a result of your outreach efforts, compared to the cost of those efforts.
  • Engagement rate: The number of interactions (likes, comments, shares) that your outreach received on social media, divided by the total number of people who viewed the message.
  • Acquisition cost: The total cost of acquiring a new donor or supporter, including the cost of outreach efforts.

Experiment with different channels and strategies to see what works best for your organization and audience, and adjust your outreach tactics based on data-driven insights for the best possible results. 

A final note about multichannel donor outreach

Multichannel donor outreach can be a highly effective way for nonprofits to engage with their supporters and raise more funds. By leveraging multiple communication channels and tailoring outreach to specific donor segments, you can maximize your impact and build stronger relationships with your donors.

For more information, watch our video about multichannel donor outreach.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing