Maximizing Multichannel Fundraising for Higher Education

April 13, 2018 npEngage Team

If you haven’t watched fundraising expert Joe Garecht’s Heating Up Multichannel Fundraising webinar or read his Raising Money through Multichannel Communications white paper, we highly recommend you do so. This blog post will complement the strategies and tips outlined in both assets, and will help you better understand multichannel fundraising and how to apply these principles to your next campaign.

Multichannel fundraising can take place across a variety of communication channels, commonly categorized as online and offline. Before you embark on a multichannel campaign, it’s important to evaluate the state of your constituent contact information as you may need to deploy strategies to improve the hygiene of your file or append email information in order to maximize your results. Let’s get to some of the top tips we’ve rounded up to help drive your multichannel fundraising success.

Tip 1: Master your direct mail fundraising.

For over a century, direct mail has been a fundraising staple. With the advent of the Internet, email, and social networking, many school fundraisers are wondering: Does direct mail fundraising still work? In short, direct mail is still an effective way to reach certain audience segments. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while creating your next direct mail piece:

  • Segment and create for the audience you’re trying to engage
  • Ensure you capture your reader’s attention early
  • Ask for specific amounts
  • Use variety in your communications

To achieve the best results, it’s important to align your direct mail fundraising appeals to your overall multichannel strategy. It’s also advised to closely monitor your direct mail solicitation response rates and track your ROI.

Tip 2: Design for both scanners and readers.

Your school’s direct mail should be designed so it grabs readers’ attention and convinces them to give. Unfortunately, the average person spends less than 10 seconds reading a single document, whether it be electronic or in print. Treat your communication as precious real estate and design your mailers to be compelling for both scanners and readers:

  • The first line is your chance to hook the reader – give them reason to keep reading
  • Include headlines and plenty of white space to make it easy to read
  • Use italicized and bold text to call attention to the most important points
  • Highlight great text content for in-depth readers
  • Convey calls to action clearly and concisely – don’t bury the ask

Tip 3: Change up your communication to improve results.

People like variety.  It’s important to alternate your message and format to avoid donor fatigue.  The last thing you want is your donor’s initial thought to be “not again,” and then hitting delete or walking your mailer to the trash.  To avoid this from happening, consider these tips to change up your messaging:

  • Incorporate a questionnaire
  • Experiment with using different tones of voice
  • Alternate sharing positive and negative views and why it’s important to receive (insert dollar amount here) to help (insert reason here)
  • Keep it short and provide specific ranges in the ask amounts

Be sure to test and track your response rates and average donation size to determine how these strategies are working for your organization.

Tip 4: Raise more money for your school through email campaigns.

Fundraising email campaigns work. Email marketing goes beyond simply having a donate now button in your email communication. To maximize interest and engagement, it’s best to design a campaign that incorporates a variety of email types, including a mix of the following:

  • Regularly scheduled newsletters
  • Special e-blasts for announcements
  • Event invitations
  • Fundraising emails

Be sure to limit the number of emails you send as it will take away from the value you’ve worked so hard to establish. Check out Joe Garecht’s online fundraising guide for more tips to increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Tip 5: Write email fundraising letters that get results.

In many ways, effective fundraising emails are similar to offline fundraising letters: they must be compelling and emotional.  Remember that your school and its mission matter to your readers.  Tell stories that tug on the heart strings, that make readers feel.  The primary difference between offline and email fundraising letters is length. The online rule is less, less, less.  Whether you’re using an online or offline vehicle, below are some key strategies to help you maximize your results:

  • Remember to gain the reader’s attention early: The average time someone spends reading an email from a recognized source is 20 to 30 seconds. Provide the reader a reason to keep reading.
  • Finding the balance: you must provide a compelling reason why your reader needs to donate, all without losing their interest due to getting lost in the information.

Tip 6: Get social to reach new donors.

It’s no longer an option for institutions to overlook the increasingly important role of social media. A survey from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) noted that “90% of higher education institutions agreed that social media is a much more important part of their communication and marketing efforts than three years ago.” Here are a few ways that you can leverage social media to benefit your institution:

  • Reach new potential donors by asking your current donors to share valuable content with their social networks
  • Engage new donors by posting and sharing compelling content, such as student spotlights, news articles featuring professors, alumni information, etc.
  • Improve exposure of your website and/or event pages while capturing valuable contact and interest information about prospective donors

Social media engagement does not always translate into financial support for your institution. It takes time and planning to successfully convert social media followers into donors, but with a proper strategy, social media can lead to greater levels of support for your institution.

For more information on how your institution can achieve greater success, check out our additional content covering multichannel fundraising and subscribe to npENGAGE to receive future articles like this one right in your inbox. Be sure to follow Blackbaud Higher Education Solutions on Twitter and LinkedIn for more on the latest topics in higher education.

Previous Article
Getting Advancement into Gear: A Conversation on Higher Education Charitable Giving Trends
Getting Advancement into Gear: A Conversation on Higher Education Charitable Giving Trends

Highlights of 2017 Charitable Giving Performance in Higher Education As reflected in the recently released ...

Next Article
Cloud Optimization Starts with the People on the Ground!
Cloud Optimization Starts with the People on the Ground!

It’s hard to read a magazine or website without hearing the advantages of moving to the Cloud. And with good …