So you want to integrate your fundraising communications to your lovely supporters across several media? These 7 tips will show you what you need to consider, and how to get started
By Sean Triner
The key to good integration is actually the key to all good fundraising. Understand your audience. Don’t do it for the sake of it, or because it is cool, or because you envy a charity that does it well. Work out the costs, and the benefits, and get testing.
Here are my top tips for integration success.
1. Integration isn’t just about joining up your direct mail with your website
When considering integration, many people think they should integrate mail with their digital channels. While this may be important (depending on your audience), you could be missing some tricks.
By far and away the most successful integration with direct mail is with phone, and even visiting key donors. Unlike a lot of digital integration, this type of integration has a lot of evidence and data to support it – for example, testing carried out last year by Pareto Fundraising showed a 20.3% response rate where a pre-call was made before the mailing landed on supporters’ doorsteps, compared with 15.8% where no pre-call was made (there was no ask for any gift on the call, it was purely an awareness raising call about the appeal that was coming through the post).
Spending your time and budget on having actual, real conversations with donors is most likely your best bet. Relationships are formed with conversations, and between humans. We’re nice like that.
2. You can’t meet, or call everyone
I am sure you believe me when I say personal contact is best. It is usually the best return per dollar/euro/pound if you are focusing on your highest-value supporters. But it is also more costly.
It is unlikely a good use of your charity’s funds to try to meet or call everyone. Digital can help reach more people, cheaper.
3. Don’t ‘integrate’ for the sake of it
Think about your audience first. Is your direct mail appeal being sent to an audience predominantly in their 70s? Then it may not be effective to have consistent messaging across mail, email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Periscope.
4. Minimise costs and times
Unless enough of your supporters are already donating online – at least 10% of them – it is unlikely that integration of your direct mail and digital channels will have a big impact on donations.
For most mail files, you may see an increase of between 1% and 5% in total donations if you send an email before and after, and have a campaign-themed landing page for donations.
Think about, and measure carefully how much time you spend on this kind of integration. Time is usually the greatest cost: time you could be using to talk to donors.
5. The bare minimum basics of integration
Your direct mail is likely telling a supporter that the most important thing they can do right now is donate to this appeal. For example, ‘Urgent: Please donate £100 right now to help Marcia and her family…’
But what happens when a supporter goes to your website and can’t see anything about Marcia? It seems disingenuous that the most important thing they should do is not on the website.
So the bare minimum should be three things:
* An obvious mention and consistent imagery with the topic and case study of your latest campaign on your website’s homepage.
* A clear call to action (not just ‘donate now’, but more like ‘donate now to help Marcia and her family’).
* A donation/landing page with consistent imagery and a reinforcement of the call to action.
6. Integrating your asks across mail and email
If enough of your donors have email addresses, then sending an email to them could be helpful. The cheapest and easiest way is to send an email both before and after your direct mail letter.
The most effective pre- and post-emails I have seen are short, and simply ask for the supporter to look out for the letter that’s just been sent. For example:
Thank you for your continued support of……..
I have just posted a really important letter that I know will interest you. It is about...…
Please, will you look out for the letter for me?
Thank you again…”
You can add an opportunity for keen supporters to help right now. But the key here is to keep your time investment to a minimum; keep it simple.
Then, send a post-mail email. My favourite – because it saves you time and it makes sense to your supporters – is very simple. Remember, you are emailing people who have responded in the past to your direct mail, and are likely to respond again. Which is why you just mailed them!
So, email the entire wording again of the direct mail letter you sent – even if it was four or six pages long. Add a little introduction:
A little while ago I sent you a letter about Marcia and…
…I haven’t heard from you yet but I really need your help. I have managed to raise £x of my target of £y. But unless I raise the difference by [DATE] my team won’t be able to…
In case you can’t find the original letter now, here it is below. I do hope you can help…”
Then, every time you would have put a prompt for how a donor can help in the letter, replace it with a link to your donation landing page. Simple, quick and effective. (And yes, just like longer letters work in direct mail, longer emails tend to work better too).
7. A note on social media and more advanced integration
For most mail files, it really is a waste of time to worry about social media. Some organisations, like Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand, Amnesty International, WWF and Oxfam have a large online supporter base. If you have a fair proportion of online donors, or are planning on growing this area, then more advanced integration may be for you. (But that would need another article.)
Example of good integration
I received an appeal in my letterbox last year from Oxfam Australia, highlighting their hunger appeal; ‘Hunger or crocodiles?’ Oxfam have a lot of donors who give online, so integration across many media is worth the effort. These pictures demonstrate the consistency of message in images and text, and take the potential donor on a ‘journey of engagement’.
Sean Triner teaches fundraising techniques to help charities generate more revenue; he does this via webinars, blog posts, social media and private mentoring
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