How to Meet Your Donors & Prospects Where They Are

We all have a tendency to gravitate toward the latest shiny new thing. Today’s technologies ring a shiny bell?

While it’s true that technology has enabled us to target communications with donors and prospects in ways we never thought possible, even a few short years ago, they can overwhelm.

Then we throw out the shiny new things.

But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, especially when it comes to integrating new technologies and strategies into your planned giving marketing program.

A balance of “old and new,” or traditional and digital technologies through multichannel marketing, enables you to coordinate a strategy that speaks directly to donors and prospects. To get right to them, in meaningful ways that educate, and build recall and affinity for your nonprofit’s mission, to ultimately create ties that bind through planned giving.

What is multichannel marketing?

A fancy name for what you’re likely already doing, multichannel marketing uses several mediums, or “channels,” to promote something for or about your nonprofit, including planned giving.

“At its core, multichannel marketing is getting the right story across, to the right people, through the right channels, for a specific purpose.” – Julia Campbell

Do you send direct mail? Publish a quarterly newsletter with planned giving vehicles and donor stories? Blog through a website or post to social media? Host thank-you donor events or plan prospect lunch meetings? That’s all marketing—marketing through different (or multi) channels.

Multichannel: Meeting them where they are

More than one-way messaging, multiple channels allow people to have choice about how and where they interact with your nonprofit. Your goal is to disseminate focused, tight messaging, and make it easy for people to want to engage in whatever medium, wherever they are in the planned giving process.

Multichannel marketing is not spray and pray. Three other crucial points:

  • Each channel, or prospect/donor touchpoint, should look, feel and sound the same for a cohesive, branded experience.
  • Whatever the channel, stories and visuals still reign supreme. They draw people in, focus the eye, compel the heart. Make them bold and mobile-friendly.
  • Include the same strong CTA across all platforms. It can be shorter for word- or character-limiting spaces like Twitter, but the messaging should be consistently stated.

A balanced approach

Here’s where we get to the real crux of the multichannel issue: How to decide which ones to use. There are so many; your head could spin in a multichannel daze.

Start with two questions:

  • Who are the people I am trying to reach? This is why segmenting and personas for donors and prospects are key.
  • Where do your donors and prospects go for information and news? Twitter, their mailbox, do they call you? Find them where they are.

It’s a wise practice before implementing planned giving multichannel marketing, any marketing strategy for that matter, to vet the strategy against a goal.

Is your goal to acquire five new members for a young donors circle? Then hosting give-back events and texting reminders, or making sure your planned giving website is mobile optimized may be more of a focus.

If you’re looking to secure five new bequest gifts among those near retirement, a direct mail piece about the ease of making a bequest followed with an email solicitation linking to your planned giving website is likely the way to go.

That’s why a balanced multichannel strategy is often best, not digital or traditional but digital and traditional.

A mix of traditional (newsletters, surveys) and digital (website, social media, emails), even mobile (texting), enables you to capitalize on tried-and-true tactics with new, targeted tactics that speak directly to your audience.

When each of these strategies is seen as part of a whole, it all works together harmoniously. Each element looks like the other, talks like the other, and has clear purpose: to meet people where they are in the planned giving space.

Need more reinforcement for a balanced marketing strategy? A study by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits shows that when we communicate consistent messages through more than one channel, donors tend to give more.

More evidence for support: MobileCause tells us that 50 percent more donors respond to direct mail when receiving the same call-to-action across multiple channels. (Maybe now’s a good time to revisit one of our previous blogs, “How to Write Stronger CTAs: Tips From the Pros.”)

In other words, it doesn’t have to be one at the sacrifice of another. The two—digital and traditional—can work hand in hand.

The next step: Use multichannel to show impact

Think beyond the goal. How will you use multichannel marketing to communicate results and recipient stories to donors? In this age of transparency, it’s important to show impact, or where the money went.

Social media and videos are especially impactful. Try sending a wrap-up thank-you email with a short note of gratitude, stats and video to demonstrate the impact of their gifts, for example.

Still wondering which channel you should use when? Download our multichannel cheat sheet now.


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