A study by the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy found that donors give 24% of their gifts between Thanksgiving and December 31. This means the stakes are higher for charities in the coming weeks… but the rewards are greater for those who make the most of the end-of-year fundraising window.
With that in mind, it’s important to reinforce an axiom that’s made a huge difference for our clients: A multichannel strategy is essential in maximizing your year-end fundraising efforts. While this may seem like a common-sense approach, too often we see organizations struggle to actually execute it.
You communicate with your donors on multiple channels throughout the year… direct mail, email, your website, social media, and other channels. But how often do your donors get the same message in each of those channels within a given time frame?
Did they receive an email about an advocacy or volunteer opportunity and then a direct mail appeal about a different topic all in the same week? If the direct mail piece drove them online to give a gift, would the donor find messaging similar to the direct mail piece on your giving page? Would your latest Facebook post pertain to the same topic as the email or the direct mail piece, or possibly a third topic?
Your organization is engaged on many fronts, but coordinating all of your donor communication efforts is important, particularly at a time of year when mailboxes, inboxes, and calendars are full. Consistent communication about a single topic across all channels will help you avoid confusing your donors with multiple messages at a time of year when they are most likely to give. So it’s vital you make the extra effort to ensure that your message to donors is the same – regardless of the channel on which they engage it. Failure to do so may create unnecessary drag on your potential revenue.
Our own research has shown that donors are most likely seeing your message in more than one place, so each channel should be reinforcing what they’ve already seen. Across all channels, be consistent with your story, the need you present, and even the creative execution of your messaging.
Here are some practical ways to ensure you have an integrated communications strategy that gets more out of both direct mail and online communications:
- Direct Mail – Consider a late November mailing to ask for support by December 31 and then follow that up with a reminder around December 15. And you’ll want to mail no later than the 15th and send your mail First Class. USPS delivery has become very unreliable, and you can’t afford for your letters to arrive after the 31st.
- Email – Your messaging should align with what you’ve put in the mail. It’s a good idea to send an email appeal after each letter, one more email appeal “update” the last week of December, and then a final one before 12 noon on December 31st.
- Website – Your homepage and donation form must complement your messaging in your mailings and e-appeals. Nothing confuses a donor more than to receive an appeal for support and then find no messaging related to that appeal when they go to your website to give.
- If you haven’t done so already, do all you can to optimize your giving form to ease the process of giving (for some pointers go to our Online Fundraising Scorecard study).
Keep your messaging consistent to get maximum return from all channels, and you’ll make the most of the end-of-year fundraising window.
More Insights from Dunham+Company: Are you REALLY LISTENING? By Rick Dunham