I remember that panicked feeling that arose when someone suggested doing an integrated multi-channel fundraising campaign.
What it meant to me, the frontline copywriter, was four times as much work crammed into the same amount of time as a “normal” fundraising campaign. Plus an extra “attentive” approval committee who felt their opinions were more necessary than ever for such an important project.
Make that 10 times as much work in the usual time frame.
I was struggling with a common misconception at the time. I thought an integrated campaign just meant a lot more messaging to donors through every possible channel.
No wonder I panicked. I was missing the most important point about integrated campaigns: They should be the same messaging repeated across multiple channels.
If you’re reinventing the wheel several times for a campaign, as I was, think again! You’re doing four (or ten) times the work for no good reason!
Here is an outline for a multichannel integrated fundraising campaign. It uses direct mail, email, and telephone. You can add other channels, most notably social media posts.
My working assumption here is that you are starting with a strong direct mail piece — the third step below: Good offer, lots of urgency and specificially, a powerful story or two, a long letter and at least one lift. This is the foundation of your campaign. It’s a lot of work, but once you’ve done it, you’ve done a large chunk of everything else in the campaign.
Note also that I refer to the projected in-home date. That is your best estimate of when a piece of mail is likely to land in donors’ mailboxes. It’s a guess. Don’t worry about the total accuracy of that date — you have little control over it.
Here are the steps for an integrated fundraising campaign:
Email #1: 1 week before projected in-home date
A short message that says: Please look out for the letter I’m sending about [topic of campaign]; you should get it in about a week.”
Talk briefly about the impact the donor can have. If possible, include a photo of the DM pack that’s coming, maybe just the outer envelope. Include a link to the campaign donation page.
Phone Call #1: 1 week before projected in-home date
Call your top 20% of donors. Make it a short, friendly call, but with a clear ask.
Tell them about the upcoming campaign: The offer, the target, the deadline, and the impact they can have by giving. Let them know the mail is on the way, ask them to support and let them know they can give now. Be ready to take a credit card donation over the phone, but don’t press hard for an immediate close.
Email #2: 1 day before projected in-home date
This is similar to email #1, with a slightly modified message: “The letter I’m sending about [topic of campaign] may have arrived. I’d like to know what you think. Include a photo of the pack (or outer envelope) and a link to the donation page.
The main direct mail pack
Even though this is the third impact of the campaign, this should be what you create first. Then treat it has a big “quarry” of materials you can use for all the other messaging.
Email #3: 3 days after projected in-home date
This email should use almost exactly the same copy as the main direct mail pack. Only change things you have to (especially direct mail specific language like “Send your gift” and references to the enclosed reply coupon). Emphasize the deadline. Have several links to the donation page.
Email #4: 8 days after projected in-home date
This should be mostly the same copy as the email above, but with a different subject line. You can also edit to make it shorter. But sure to include increased deadline urgency, something like: “We are short of our target by [$XX] and need to raise that by [deadline]”
Phone Call #2: 8 days after projected in-home date
To the top 20% of your donors — more if you can. Much like the first call, but with more emphasis on the deadline, and no mention of the direct mail pack.
Email #5: 9 days after projected in-home date
Forward of the previous email with short note at top: “I wanted to make sure you saw this.”
Email #6 (or more): 1 Day before deadline
A short email that is heavily focused on the deadline, now just 24 hours away. If you want, you can also send a 48-hour and 12-hour version.
Follow-Up Direct Mail: 3 weeks after main DM
A smaller version of the initial direct mail, possibly a smaller format and fewer or no lifts. But if you’re short on time, you can send the same appeal again. Just add a note: “I wanted to make sure you saw this!”
Don’t supress people who have already responded to the campaign. They are the people most likely to respond here.
Newsletter: Some time after the campaign
It’s time to report back! Let your donors know how the campaign went — especially how it will impact the cause they support. Thank your donors for their part in the campaign with stories of the difference their giving makes.
These are just suggestions I have used and have seen work. You can do fewer or more impacts as your budget allows.
The plan I’ve described here is taken from the Moceanic online webinar, “Good, Better, Best: Transform Your Best Appeal into a High-Powered Integrated Campaign.” Like all the Moceanic courses, it is available only to members of The Fundraisingology Lab, along with the tools, the information, and the supporting community that will take you to new places in your fundraising career. Join the waiting list now and you’ll be the first to hear when the doors open again!
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