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Donor development initiatives need to be supported through cross-channel communication

We have all these different channels of communication. What’s become clear in the last few years is that all these channels need to reflect a consistent message. What you’re saying in your email sends needs to be consistent with the message in your direct mail, what you’re communicating at an event, and what you say in face-to-face meetings. But consistency is not enough–it needs to encompass a thoughtful and strategically developed plan with how we communicate with people. The plan needs to integrate and anticipate that people are going to interact with us in different channels.

What action do you want people to take when they come home from one of your organization’s events? Hopefully they go to your website to learn more. Perhaps the same thing happens when someone goes to your website–they learn about one of your events and decide to attend to find out what your organization is all about. They shouldn’t be hearing different messages, because we should anticipate that people are going to use multiple channels to learn more about us and engage in our work. We should also play to the strengths of each channel and work within them for congruency in our message. Most importantly, all communications should be intentional, driving people towards specific goals by using cross-channel engagement.

Often times organizations communicate to donors through a single channel. If the communication starts online, it stays online. Or, if they start in the mail, then never leave the mail. So it’s either all online, or all offline.

We need to not only make sure that messages are consistent across all channels, but that we use different channels of communication.   We need to be thinking beyond just having an online stream and offline stream. We need to think in terms about how we might use different channels of engagement to engage donors and their connection with us more deeply. This can help accomplish multiple initiatives:

  • Behavioral invitations that encourage people to show a behavior in an area of interest to them
  • Engagement efforts that garner either an initial gift or an upgrade to the donor’s previous gift
  • Follow-up strategies that encourage continued interest in the organization after a gift is made
  • Reactivation programs that re-engage lapsed donors and renew their interest in supporting the organization.