Mail, email, web, social media, mobile, video… Each new technology adds to nonprofits’ workloads. Is all the effort worth it?

In a word, yes.

Emerging data is showing the importance of taking a multichannel approach to communications with supporters. In a recent post, Tad Druart of Convio details how the media through which people interact with nonprofits is evolving – both across generations and within generations.

Why go multichannel? I can think of at least four reasons:

  1. Retention rates and revenue. Data from 14 major nonprofits shows that retention rates are dramatically higher for multichannel donors.  For example, first-year retention was 61 percent for multichannel donors vs. 32 percent for offline donors and 24 percent for online donors.  Likewise, multichannel donor revenue is far higher than single channel donor revenue.
  2. Response rates. Communicating with donors through additional channels increases their value.  multiple channels can substantially boost response rates. In a test M+R conducted with one client, 50% of their email/mobile supporters were sent a companion text to a fundraising email, linking to a mobile-optimized donation form. Though almost no supporters donated using the mobile donation form, there was a 25% boost in response rate to the email appeal among those that received the text over the control group. Similarly, Target data shows that among offline-only donors who have valid email addresses, sending email boosts their annual revenue by approximately 30 percent – for those who never donate a dollar online – and increases their retention as well.
  3. Sustainer conversion. Want to get more high-value sustainers? Multichannel approaches are also typically the best methods of converting supporters to sustainers, whether via online / telemarketing / mail, mail / telemarketing or other combinations.
  4. Capturing multichannel donors early. Multichannel marketing could soon move from a large opportunity to a strategic necessity for many nonprofits. Organizations that pursue a multichannel approach skillfully at this point may capture many of the best donors for the long term, especially as sustainers.

Questions or comments about your organization’s multichannel strategy? Email Jeff at