Omni-Channel Marketing and Fundraising for Nonprofits: Guide and Free Template

September 30, 2020  |  Richard Gabrintina

Just like people, your programs work better when they work together. If you’re looking for a starting place, here it is.


About this guide

This in-depth guide, designed with nonprofit marketers and fundraisers in mind, explores omni-channel marketing: its importance and benefits, the steps involved in creating an omni-channel campaign, the tools you'll need to execute a successful campaign, and real-life examples that examine what it all looks like put together. Before you start, download our omni-channel campaign template, so that you’ll be ready to put it into action!

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If you’re ready to take your nonprofit marketing to the next level by implementing omni-channel marketing, read on.


Table of contents

  1. What is omni-channel marketing?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. What does omni-channel marketing look like for nonprofits?
  4. Is omni-channel the same as multichannel?
  5. Outcomes to expect
  6. What tools are needed for effective omni-channel marketing?
  7. Get started now!

What is omni-channel marketing?

More than just a trendy buzzword, omni-channel marketing is the cohesive integration of all communication channels that an organization uses, both digital and traditional, to provide a seamless, unified experience for your audience. While omni-channel marketing isn’t a new concept, especially for the for-profit sector, it is an area in which many nonprofits have room for growth and improvement.

Omni-channel marketing is ultimately the integration of who, what, when, and where: the audience, the message, the timing, and the channel. This means that there is intentional, strategic coordination in the message your organization is telling its selected targeted audience across the different communication channels they are consuming. An omni-channel marketing strategy provides supporters with a holistic experience centered on their preferences and behavior.

Why is omni-channel communication important?

Omni-channel marketing has become the new standard in modern marketing. The need for omni-channel communication across every sector reflects the continually developing relationship between people, brands, and technology. An emerging example that highlights the need for omni-channel marketing is the growing use of mobile devices and the increased integration of mobile and SMS-based communication alongside other channels.

What does omni-channel marketing look like for nonprofits?

Despite differences in goals, adopting an omni-channel approach as a nonprofit doesn’t look much different than it does for a business. Rather than closing a sale or expanding a customer base, nonprofits can use omni-channel marketing to raise more money and acquire more supporters.

In order for digital programs to succeed in today’s world, it will be increasingly important that they are able to effectively implement an omni-channel approach. What does that mean for nonprofits? It means that your organization’s messaging, branding, and timing should be consistent online and offline—from email, websites and forms, and social media to direct mail, telephone, and other analog modes of contact.

Keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all omni-channel marketing solution – your organization’s mission and supporter base are unique, and testing a few variations of omni-channel communication will reveal the best strategies.

For example, you might incorporate the use of digital ads to your direct mail campaign, or tie in the same messaging in your letters to your emails and/or social media posts. In this scenario, the key is to keep messaging consistent, but not identical across each channel. This keeps information fresh in the minds of potential donors, empowering them to take action when they’re ready.

Is omni-channel the same as multichannel?

It isn't uncommon for people to use the terms multichannel and omni-channel interchangeably. However, this is incorrect – multichannel and omni-channel are not the same. The easiest way to observe how the two are different is to look at how the messaging relates to the overall strategy.

While both strategies involve talking to a supporter through multiple channels, the difference lies in the details. Multichannel is a static, linear strategy that begins with the organization and moves outward with its messaging. Omni-channel is a dynamic, multi-dimensional strategy that begins with the supporter and builds communication around them, making sure to update the messaging as their engagement with the brand evolves.

In a multichannel approach, the communication to the audience between each channel remains largely unchanged. This means that if a supporter sees messaging from multiple channels it may be duplicative, rather than building on itself and moving them further along the donor journey. With an omni-channel approach, the messaging meets the audience where they are, which not only includes which channel they’re using, but also considers which particular stage of the donor journey they’re at.

With each touchpoint, the messaging is updated based on how the audience engages at each step. This method provides information that is both relevant and convenient, qualities which are useful in eliminating barriers between a potential supporter and your organization.

The biggest advantage to using an omni-channel approach is its ability to incorporate a detailed level of personalization that emphasizes the experience of the individual, which isn’t possible using the multichannel model.

Outcomes to expect

In addition to providing the opportunity to establish a tailored, personalized experience for each unique individual that interacts with your organization, there are other benefits to implementing this method. Omni-channel marketing matters in the modern world of marketing. Here are five quick stats that highlight the effectiveness of rolling out an integrated, unified campaign:

  • Direct mail used in conjunction with digital ads yields a 28% higher conversion rate
  • The combination of one or more digital media with direct mail leads to a 118% increase in response rate compared to using direct mail only
  • View-through revenue (donations from supporters who have been served an ad but arrived at the donation page through another means) accounted for 43% of all digital ads giving in 2019
  • The Smithsonian saw a 12-29% boost in direct mail performance after sending a leader email before performing a major direct mail campaign
  • Mercy Corps saw a 5.4% increase in the number of new monthly donors and a 3.8% increase for credit card monthly donor revenue after incorporating an omni-channel strategy

What tools are needed for effective omni-channel marketing?

As marketing strategies and tools evolve, nonprofits need to ensure they can adapt by adopting the technology necessary to run complex, personalized campaigns. It’s important, however, to understand that simply having the tools won’t help organizations achieve their goals.

When it comes to omni-channel marketing, nonprofits need to make sure they have the right tools and to also know how to use them in a way that lets your organization get the most out them. Below are the three foundational tools that will help facilitate a successful omni-channel marketing campaign.

Tools for omni-channel marketing

Unified database/CRM

An effective, unified CRM is at the core of a properly functioning omni-channel strategy. Because omni-channel marketing is a user-centered strategy, it requires making informed decisions and providing personalized content based on accurate data collection. This is where your CRM comes into play, consolidating essential supporter data in one convenient, easy-to-access location, which includes their contact information, their communication history, and their engagement history.

With a unified CRM, data regarding engagement on every channel is stored in one location, so nonprofit marketers can easily segment supporters to begin constructing a personalized experience for each of them based on shared characteristics and traits. A unified database is critical to making agile adjustments – changing an email workflow based on interaction that happened on the phone or following up a direct mail gift with text messages.

Workflow automation

Like with many things in life, timing is critical for omni-channel marketing. If someone interested in your organization doesn’t hear back from you or get the information they’re looking for right away, they’ll lose interest quickly.

Marketing automation allows nonprofits to overcome this issue, and then some. Building out drip campaigns, that include not only email but can coordinate communication across channels and work based on automatic triggers allows for a quick response time to new supporters. Automation allows you to set up complex, personalized campaigns, and then sit back and let them do the work. This can free up staff time and enable you to perform important tasks that require a human touch.

With effective data collection and the ability to segment it quickly, based on actions in a variety of channels, workflow automation is how you put it to good use and ensure that you are sending the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

Analytics and reporting

Once you’ve kicked off your campaign, you’ll need to be able to easily track progress and evaluage success. A strong reporting tool helps you keep track of performance, monitor supporter activity, and make any necessary adjustments and improvements to optimize your campaign. This way, your nonprofit isn’t just talking to existing and potential supporters, but you’re also actively listening to them and driving future decisions based on their behavior.

Predictive analytics takes things a step further by empowering fundraisers with the ability to predict donor behavior based on their past behavior. This type of analytics reporting gives valuable insight into which donor is likely to respond to certain fundraising asks – and is also especially useful when paired with automated campaigns.

Get started now!

Now that you’ve developed your understanding of what omni-channel marketing is, what it does, what it’s capable of, and what it looks like, try it out for yourself! Our free omni-channel campaign template allows you to start planning an omni-channel campaign for your nonprofit, regardless of your organization’s size or goals.

If you or your organization have been searching for the right tools to help you roll out your omni-channel campaign, sign up for a demo of EveryAction 360 today! EveryAction 360 is a unified CRM that streamlines workflows, breaks down silos and boost program performance to raise more money, maximize supporter relationships and achieve real impact. Run all of your programs from one place for seamless omni-channel campaigns and effortless reporting.

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