Multi-Channel Donor Outreach: How Many Messages is Too Many?
Nonprofits don’t just use one channel to talk to donors anymore—to be effective, your messages need to be multi-channel. So what’s the right multi-channel donor outreach cadence for your nonprofit’s supporters? We talked to One & All President and Chief Growth Officer Kevin White to learn how to create the most effective multi-channel campaigns.
Q: How can nonprofits plan out effective multi-channel donor outreach cadences?
A: Make sure your messages are coordinated across channels, so that you’re not inundating people with different messages. Does the email align with the mail and the phone call and the TV, and anything else you may be doing? Or are people getting confused? It’s also important not to flood people with messages—you may not want your supporters saying, “wow, within this week, I got 3 mail pieces, 14 emails, 3 phone calls, and I’ve seen you 17 times on air!” People may get annoyed with a frequency like that.
Q: What is the ideal message frequency for a multi-channel program?
A: The answer to that is all across the board. Some organizations may limit themselves to 4 or 6 or 8 communications in a channel. Others may have 30 or 40 in a channel over the course of the year! If you are generating revenue—and I’m talking more on the cultivation side now—if you’re continuing to generate net revenue, you might be able to get in another touch point. Because as long as people are choosing to respond, and you’re not cannibalizing effort to effort, then you probably have room to grow.
When it comes to frequency, I’d argue monthly is probably minimal. You can send up to 18 or 24 messages per year in terms of mail. With email, you’ve got a little more latitude in that you can send more frequently, but you need to be really careful that it’s not all asking for money. If you skip a donation ask in some of your messages, you can do more to steward your donors, do more reporting back, and get updated information a little more frequently.
The frequency of your messages might vary if it involves a Giving Day. With campaigns like #GivingTuesday, a number of messages over the course of a few days is just fine. But again, be careful: if you start to see people unsubscribing, or if those clickthrough or conversion rates start to drop, you’re probably overwhelming them.
Above all, test the growth into it. One & All saw a very large, well-known organization do a back-test of cutting back their message frequency. They were convinced people would still give to the opportunities they had, even with fewer asks, but it turned out that was not the case—the organization lost a significant amount of revenue, because people didn’t have as many opportunities to choose when and how they wanted to give. The real answer is to let the supporter behavior guide you.