Measuring ROI in multichannel fundraising campaigns can be a lot of work, but there are some clear things nonprofits can do to make the process easier. These are just a few of the insights from a new whitepaper by Peter Schoewe over at Donordigital.

“Measuring Your Return on Investment in Multichannel Fundraising Campaigns” explores three key questions to optimize an integrated fundraising program:

1. How much money should you invest in online acquisition of newdonors compared to direct mail acquisition?

2. How does the long-term value of a multichannel donor differ from the long-term value of a single channel donor?

3. What is the purpose of your fundraising efforts? is it just to raise dollars—or do want to acquire a number of advocates, volunteers, activists, etc.?

Peter Schoewe outlines a framework that helps to answer these questions:
- Establish the goal
- Start with the “I” in ROI—define Your investment
- Understand the “R” in ROI—calculate Your returns
- Measure the Multichannel return on fundraising investment for every fundraising activity

The whitepaper goes on in detail to explain ways that nonprofit organizations can work their way through the framework. It’s worth noting the importance of counting both direct and indirect costs accurately.

Peter points out that most indirect expenses, like having a website that accepts donations, must be considered the cost of doing fundraising and is independent of any single fundraising effort. Instead, focus on indirect costs that fall outside the usual cost of fundraising.

multichannel dd Measuring ROI in Multichannel Fundraising

There is a case study that shows how this framework was applied to a nonprofit’s online acquisition program. It shows what we’ve seen for a while in multichannel donor analysis: online donors have higher initial value but are less loyal than offline acquired donors.

Another area of the whitepaper explores donors acquired in 2008 to measure the return on investment over three years. The case study found that the nonprofit could balance its acquisition investment between direct mail and online—while still achieving acceptable break-even goals through both channels.

You can download a copy of “Measuring Your Return on Investment in Multichannel Fundraising Campaigns” here.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Director of the Idea Lab at Blackbaud where they leverage the company’s expertise, information, and technology to accelerate bringing new solutions to the nonprofit sector. Steve has spent more than 15 years building successful online initiatives with for-profit and nonprofit organizations across the world.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Institute of Fundraising National Convention, Civil Society Conference, Resoure Alliance’s Fundraising Online, and a keynote speaker at such events as the Crescendo Practical Planned Giving Conference.

Steve serves on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and supports its focus on both the growth and professionalism of the nonprofit technology field as well as building knowledge and information sharing capacity throughout the sector.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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