Choosing the Most Effective Marketing Channels for Your Fundraising Campaign

Friday, March 4, 2022

As a nonprofit marketing leader, you're tasked with creating compelling content and figuring out the best strategies to reach your audience and inspire action. Through it all, a recurring aspect you have to consider is which marketing channels you decide to use.

From email marketing to website marketing to direct mail marketing, there are pros and cons to each method of audience engagement. On the other hand, not every one of your current supporter base and potential prospects will respond the same way to the same marketing channel. For example, your younger donors may prefer text messages and social media updates, while others may respond better to email or direct mail. 

In many cases, using more than one marketing channel will yield the best results. This way, you can not only reach as many people as possible, but you can also use those channels to work together and cross-promote your content to drive meaningful action. 

This doesn’t mean you should spread your marketing efforts thinly between all possible channels for your next fundraising campaign. It’s best practice to choose just a couple marketing channels that your nonprofit supporters already frequent and rely on. But which ones should you leverage? 

To help you prepare your multichannel marketing strategy, we will walk through the following popular channels:

  1. Direct mail
  2. Nonprofit website
  3. Email marketing
  4. Text messaging
  5. Social media

Ready to learn more about each channel and explore ways to use it to your advantage? Let’s begin!

1. Direct Mail

Modern nonprofits can be under the impression that direct mail fundraising and marketing is dead. However, direct mail is actually one of the most effective ways to raise money for your organization. 

Some studies show that donors are even more likely to read a direct mail appeal than an email appeal! Plus, direct mail has a personal touch to it that email and other online marketing lacks, making it beneficial for relationship building and showing appreciation. 

Direct mail marketing will consist of writing, designing, and printing hard copy letters to send to your donors or prospective donors. But it is not best practice to inundate your supporters’ mailboxes with constant appeals and donation requests. After all, that’s not great for your budget and can even turn off supporters who feel they are receiving too many communications from your organization.

Choose your direct mail strategies and recipients carefully. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Determine if your supporters have a preference for direct mail (or would rather not receive direct mail) and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
  • Feature photos of the community members you’ve helped.
  • Use direct mail to communicate with your high impact donors, like major donor prospects.
  • Incorporate direct mail into your donor appreciation strategy

Even though your direct mail can’t physically link back to your nonprofit website or other marketing channels, it can be valuable to still make that connection, especially if your letter is encouraging them to take action. Incorporating a QR code is a clever way to embed a direct link to your website. You can even include your social media handles as well!

2. Your Nonprofit Website

Your nonprofit website is the hub of all of your nonprofit’s engagements and thus one of the most essential marketing tools for any type of organization. 

No matter the audience, whether it’s prospective donors, current supporters, volunteers, or just curious site visitors, your website is likely the first place a person looks when they want to learn more about your organization. It’s the go-to place to give, sign up for events, become a volunteer, catch up on recent news, and more!

Because of this, your nonprofit website must be optimized and easy to use. In terms of marketing, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a dedicated page to share recent nonprofit news. This resource can include updates relevant to your mission, significant accomplishments and targets you’ve reached, and real-life stories from community members you’ve helped. 
  • Showcase your nonprofit events calendar, whether embedded on your homepage or as a link on your menu. This way, site visitors can always explore any upcoming opportunities your organization hosts and register if they’re interested. 
  • Keep your site navigation streamlined and simple. You don’t want users landing on your site and not knowing how to get to their target page, whether it's the donation page or your events calendar. Having a sticky navigation menu and using prominent calls-to-action to high-traffic landing pages can add much value. 
  • Take a continuous improvement approach instead of relying on large updates on a less consistent basis. This means you should update all of your systems and apps, ensuring that all of your marketing content is correct. You don’t want any site visitors coming across outdated information! 

Because your website hosts so many important nonprofit engagements, it is imperative that you link to it in other marketing materials. Incorporating a social media feed or an email newsletter opt-in field supports a multichannel marketing effort and can increase the number of supporters who visit your site and take action!

3. Email Marketing

Did you know that email has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel–around $40 for every dollar spent? 

While it’s easy to assume that email is outdated, it is still one of the most popular ways to communicate with supporters, showcase appreciation, and solicit gifts. You might even have a personalized nonprofit newsletter that sends out organizational updates about current and future projects to your interested and passionate supporters. 

Email is noteworthy because you can experiment with different content types, link out to other marketing materials efficiently, and integrate with your other nonprofit tools for capabilities like automated messaging, data inputting, and more. 

Here are some tips to take your email marketing to the next level:

  • Use an eye-catching subject line
  • Keep it personal by automating names, donation amounts, and other relevant recipient-specific information
  • Segment your audience by different types, like major donors, volunteers, etc.
  • Schedule out emails for reminders and announcements

Make sure that you have links leading back to your website throughout this marketing content. For instance, if you are emailing about an upcoming event, providing a direct link to your event registration page within your email body is critical, especially if you want people to take action!

4. Text Messaging

Text messaging is rising in popularity, with tools and platforms now allowing nonprofit organizations to use texts to accept gifts and communicate and engage with supporters

This is how it works: Supporters text a campaign keyword to your organization's designated short code phone number and then automatically receive a message with a link to a mobile-optimized donation page on your website. They can then complete the giving process from their phones!

Along with that benefit, text fundraising also allows you to:

  • Send outbound messages to generate time-sensitive support for emergency funds
  • Boost awareness for upcoming events
  • Inspire giving during your events
  • Reach donors on the go any time during the year or a specific campaign

With text fundraising, it is important to note that you need a text opt-in process. This allows supporters to give permission to receive these types of messages on their mobile device and is legally necessary due to the The Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

5. Social Media

Don’t let your social media marketing efforts fall to the wayside! In fact, social media platforms are becoming some of the most important and reliable ways to engage with your donors. 

According to Double the Donation’s nonprofit statistics page, Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform for nonprofits, with a 44% increase in followers just in the year 2017. 

Here are some reasons why social media has proven to be a reliable marketing tool for nonprofits:

  • Provides quick updates to a large audience
  • Allows users to implement multiple media types, like video, images, GIFS, and more 
  • Reposts marketing content across multiple social media platforms
  • Encourages engagement from followers through comments or discussion posts

One of the best parts of social media marketing is that, by nature, platforms encourage sharing amongst users. For instance, it’s quick and easy to send an Instagram or Twitter post to a friend or to reshare a status on Facebook which creates an opportunity to meet new prospects and spread the word of your mission.

The five channels above are the most popular ways that fundraising leaders like you solicit gifts and promote upcoming events. In the end, the marketing channels you use should work together to take your mission to the next level and engage your supporters in valuable ways. If you're still unsure of which method to use and how to prioritize them, working with a professional fundraising consultant might be your best bet. Good luck!

Bonnie brings to her role at Meyer Partners more than 30 years of fundraising experience, with a special emphasis in multimedia approaches to new donor acquisition and development. Her expertise encompasses several facets of direct response fundraising, including copy writing and creative direction, market research, strategic planning, and comprehensive results analysis.