I’m connected in different ways to numerous nonprofit organizations. On the professional side, I’ve interviewed many industry professionals for articles, case studies, best practices guides, white papers and more. On the personal side, I’ve donated, volunteered, taken action, and raised money. From my interactions with them over the years, I became aware of how these organizations could engage me more effectively so that I feel even more committed to supporting their cause. And with the publishing of the 2010 Nonprofit Resolutions Guide, 5 main lessons learned in the way of multi-channel marketing were evident in 2009.
Top 5 Lessons Learned in 2009: Multi-Channel Engagement
1. Coordinate your efforts. Two emails from the same nonprofit in one day? Both asking me for money? I replied to one of the senders and gave them a heads-up about the overlap because I knew that if I was annoyed by it, many others likely were as well. She thanked me for my input and apologized for bombarding me with emails. This simple oversight on the nonprofit’s end reminded me how important it is for an organization to coordinate messages across departments. Even if you operate in silos, try to create the illusion that you don’t.
2. Use the data you have about me. You should be collecting information about me – donations, interests, communication preferences. So, please use it to your advantage. If I donated $50 last year, don’t suggest that I give $25 this year. Instead, remind me that I gave $50 last year, and then ask me to give the same again or more this year. I’ll appreciate the personalized message and the fact that you remember the amount, because I probably won’t!
3. Tell me what else I can do. If you tell me about other ways I could get involved with your organization, then I probably will. The reason that I typically open my wallet first is because that is what you tell me to do. So tell me to do something else. My son’s preschool, which is a nonprofit organization, is a perfect example. Since he started there in 2008, my family has made several donations to support the school. Last week, I received an email asking me to donate earthquake supplies. This was not a generic ask, it was a specific list – from duct tape and shovels, to blankets and flashlights. In the wake of the Haiti earthquake, the message was timely and reminded me that in the case of his school, I can do more than give cash. I can donate specific items and even join the earthquake preparedness committee to ensure that my son, his peers, and teachers, are well equipped if an emergency arises. They asked. Now I’m inspired to deliver.
4. Respect my preferences. You’ve told me that your organization’s fundraising results were down because of the economy, and that my donation – no matter how small – will make a difference. I’ve told you that I’m most responsive to email (as long as you don’t send me two of them on the same day). Yet over the holidays, I received a fancy direct mail piece from you. The attractive double-sided, full color piece on high-quality card stock might inspire some people to donate, but for me it made me feel as though you aren’t listening to what I’ve told you in the past. So, please choose your communication channel more carefully when you reach out to me. If you do, then I’m more likely to keep supporting your cause.
5. If you insist on contacting me offline, then please tell me how I can respond online. I realize that sometimes you will contact me by mail. When you do, please give me the option to respond online and make it clear how I would do it. If there’s a special campaign, then include the link to the donation form in your direct mail piece. If you’re looking for volunteers, then point me to the volunteer sign-up page on your website. I’m more likely to come through for you if I can fulfil your request through your website.
We all know that you’re doing your best, but we want you to do even better by taking the time to listen to our feedback and then incorporating it into your multi-channel engagement strategy.
Even more tips and lessons learned for Multi-Channel engagement can be found in the 2010 Nonprofit Resolutions Guide. Have something else that works well for your organization? Share them here!