Keeping Cross-channel Communications Consistent

September 08, 2014 - by Lesley Hostetter

Today’s donors are active across multiple channels — and they’re increasingly going online and sharing on social.  It’s difficult for non-profits to know how to chart a clear path for their donors when donors are constantly going off on detours.

Though we can’t control how or when donors give — we can control the message they receive.  With clear internal communication and sufficient planning, creating consistent messaging doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Here are some tips to guide you:

1.  Create a communications calendar — and use it.  We often see organizations go to the trouble of creating a consolidated communications calendar, but then ignore it.  Donors appreciate hearing from you throughout the year on a variety of topics that all flow nicely from one to another.  Be sure to update your calendar throughout the year — campaigns will always be in flux at planning time, so finalize the details as you go.

  • Bonus tip:  Add segmentation to your calendar.  This will help you see exactly what messages different donor groups will receive.  (And sometimes you’ll identify a weak spot – often high-dollar donors or sustainers aren’t hearing from you often enough!)

2.  Rally the troops.  Get everyone you work with on the same page.  This means your internal teams and external teams (agencies, vendor partners).  Discuss the details well in advance of each big campaign.  Make sure the message and the audience are aligned to support the overall campaign objectives.

3.  Mixing it up is okay.  When controlling the message across channels, there’s no need to use the same exact language in all media.  Your campaign should cross channels (because your donors do), but the content and strategy need to be adapted for each medium.  Keep the campaign name and purpose uniform — but tailor the creative to each channel.  It’s critical to consider what will enhance the donor’s overall experience.

  • Bonus tip:  Each channel has pros and cons, so when planning a multi-channel fundraising effort, carefully consider the channel mix from the start.  Before the campaign launches, set key performance indicators for each channel to understand the goals and monitor results. 

4.  Appoint a gatekeeper.  It’s imperative that one person within the organization’s fundraising department have full authority over all fundraising messages in all channels.  We’ve all seen watered-down copy, or an email campaign that doesn’t really sound like the mailing it accompanies.  Results will improve if one person is tasked with syncing messages.

  • Bonus tip:  This is something that smaller organizations often do better than large organizations.  With a smaller staff, fundraising across all channels typically lies with one or two people.  Fewer cooks in the kitchen typically results in clearer, more compelling multi-channel campaigns.

Implementing multi-channel campaigns can definitely be challenging.  But it’s a challenge we’re up for — and hope you are, too!  After all, it’s the solution to improving donor retention and raising more money.


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