I assume you’ve heard of “multichannel campaigns,” even if you don’t really know what the words mean. I imagine the hip people would say that you and I were pretty much “out of it” if we hadn’t heard the phrase.
Nonetheless, let’s begin at the beginning.
Multichannel marketing is the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In this sense, a channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a products package or even word of mouth. Multichannel marketing is about choice.
Multichannel marketing is important for the simple reason that you must be where your customers are. And they are everywhere. If you need another reason, consider this: Multichannel customers spend three to four times more than single-channel customers do.
Today there are more ways to reach customers—both in terms of number and variety of channels—than we could have imagined not so long ago. And as the number of channels continues to rise—and it will—the need to embrace multichannel marketing will become not only a good idea, but a critical one.
“But we work in the nonprofit sector.”
“We’re not marketers. ‘Marketing’ is a dirty word, rather crass. Certainly not appropriate for the great nonprofit sector and our marvelous charities.”
Last year, I worked with a $7 million U.S. nonprofit that actually talked that way, thought that way, and behaved that way. Ah, such great sadness!
May I say, “WTF?!” (I hope you’re not offended by my language, but really!)
The concepts of marketing are fundamental to the nonprofit sector. Just read Andreasen and Kotler’s Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations. This is a must-read for leaders in any and all nonprofits.
Marketing is about a mutually beneficial exchange. Here’s a scenario: I’m really angry about racism. I rant and rave about racism in the U.S. all the time. Your organization fights hard against racism through public policy advocacy and education in the schools and…I pick you. I choose to give through you to fulfill my own aspirations. And because of my financial gifts (and maybe some volunteer time, too), you can continue the fight.
You and I live in a multichannel world. You and I experience multichannel marketing daily.
For example: Apparently, gray hair is bad. It makes you and me look old. Looking old is not good. Gray hair ads pop up when I’m on the Internet. (Yes, the Internet knows how old I am. Or at least Google does!) In the drugstore hair aisles, the packaging has lots of gray-haired people and really pretty not-gray-haired people. TV ads have lots of hair washing with color.
That’s multichannel. And it’s targeted at me—and maybe some of you? We’re the customers.
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
Donors are customers, too. Just a different kind. We’re “buying” something else.
So, one of my favorite charities, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sends print direct mail letters. (Yes, print direct marketing still works very well. That’s what the fundraising research says. That’s what smart fundraisers know.)
PPFA sends emails, too. I almost always open them because I love PPFA. I fulfill my own aspirations for basic human rights by giving through PPFA.
Sometimes, PPFA sends really cool videos. Yet another channel. I always watch the videos.
Multiple marketing channels. Multiple channel marketing campaigns. Just trawl the Internet and examine various charities.
Expertise in multichannel fundraising
Not me! I’m not an expert in multichannel fundraising. But here are some resources you should check out—and these are just a few!
- A report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Fundraising in a Multichannel World.”
- The multichannel fundraising archives at The Agitator.
- This blog post from Pursuant.
- 9 Tips for Making a Multi-Channel Fundraising Ask
- Multi-channel fundraising and maximizing donor engagement
- And check out this award-winning multichannel fundraising campaign
- One teeny tiny little thing…
Channels and vehicles and digital and paper—and so on and so on and so on— are all part of multi-channel fundraising.
But please, please, please…don’t forget about a really important multichannel fundraising vehicle: Talk with me.
Talk with me, not to me. Engage with me.
Embrace two-way and face-to-face. (Or at least talk on the phone.)
If we live near each other, don’t expect a big gift from me via that multichannel digital world. At best, I might respond via direct mail. If you want a big gift from me—and I’ve actually told many of you this—you’d best meet with me face-to-face.
And I’ll tell you this, too: You’d best know how the top seven direct mail research emotions trigger my actions. Those would be anger, fear, greed, guilt, flattery, exclusivity, and salvation.
Too many of you nonprofit organizations out there have fallen in love with digital and social media. Too many of you nonprofits over-embrace multichannel fundraising. Too many of you NGOs eliminate face-to-face and the telephone from your multi-channel fundraising engagement and asking.
I’m tired of your elimination. I’m tired of your lack of truly personal contact. I’m tired of not seeing you and having those two-way conversations.
I’m just a phone call away to talk. I’m just a short drive—and yes, we could even meet at the local coffee shop.
Especially if you treat me to a yummy cinnamon scone and tell me a story and listen to my stories.