This is the first of four blog posts about cultivating Multi-Channel Outreach in development campaigns. We will explore strategies to create, measure and increase constituent impact for delivering on your fundraising goals. To begin, let’s establish a framework for your success.

I remember when life was simpler. I only had three dials to turn; one each for the television, the radio, and a rotary telephone. Then computers, cellphones and the Web ushered in a myriad of online communication tools such as email, texting, and social media. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of stuffing envelopes, adding a stamp and inviting others to a fundraiser! If you feel the same way, or perhaps even a little overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

Then again, who wants to lick envelopes, especially given how effective online outreach can be? Yes, modern technology involves multiple dials, but it also can be extremely effective. According to the e-Nonprofit 2012 Benchmark report, during 2010-2011 online donations increased by 19 percent. Although one-time gifts represent the largest source of online revenue, monthly giving programs are growing faster, with a 5 percent increase over the previous year.* When put together properly, multi-channel outreach can leverage any marketing budget and help build a more sustainable donor relationship (more on that later).

Before twisting another dial, consider how multi-channel campaigns may require collaboration across your organization. Others may bring insight and analytics to your campaign, but only if they’re involved from the beginning. After all, most nonprofits have limited time and resources to dedicate to any one campaign, so coordination matters.

So how might we simplify?

Below is my Ten Dial Dashboard to help establish your framework for success. To help illustrate these concepts in action, I will reference a recent $2 million campaign launched by “Water for People”.

1. Go for big impact. When setting your campaign goals, chose one big audacious goal (and maybe a couple of secondary goals). Identify a few key metrics to know if you’ve reached your goal. Water for People set the following goal in their “Time Well Spent $2 Million Challenge:”

“We need to raise $1 Million during September 2012 to match another $1 Million already pledged by amazing donors. Every donation has double the impact up to $2 Million!”

2. Seek out a match. Perhaps it’s just a matter of your nonprofit board members committing their annual donations as an incentive for others to give. Or, consider other donor groups, such as corporate partners, that might be motivated to commit money upfront. Matches motivate giving as well as extending your reach.

3. Limit the length of the campaign. Did you notice that the Time Well Spent $2 Million Challenge was initially only one month long? This communicates a sense of urgency.

4. Make the key message meaningful, crystal clear and with punch so as to easily connect donors to your campaign. Time Well Spent ties perfectly to the sad fact that “women and children spend an average of four hours a day getting water” in the developing world. Clearly, this is not time well spent and has dire consequences for these women and girls. The campaign then poses the question to the potential donor: “What is four hours worth to you?” The obvious answer is that it’s hard to imagine spending four hours fetching water.

5. Organize your home webpage. Water for People’s Time Well Spent campaign is top and center on their site, with two rotating headlines, a photo, and orange, white, and gray copy on a black background. You can’t miss it.

6. Make the Donate and Donate Now buttonz easy to find.I counted three donation buttons (in addition to the option, “Help Us Fundraise”) on Water for People’s website.

7. Connect The Donation Page to the Campaign.Wow! What a landing! In addition to the same pleasing graphics as on the home page, the donation page boasts multiple giving levels and a one-time and/or monthly donation option. A giving level is already selected when the page opens.

8. Create a Compelling Email Template.In 2011, 35 percent of online revenue was sourced from email solicitations**. Consider the cadence of email communication and design a series of emails. Zak Barron, area director of Constant Contact strongly advised at a recent AFP Colorado conference: “Know your key message- –the ‘thing’ you want most to communicate!”

Create a look and feel for these emails that is consistent with the visuals and messaging of the campaign. For example, Water for People uses the same young girl’s picture throughout its outreach.

Remember to create a compelling Thank-You email as well. One that keeps donors emotionally connected to your cause and demonstrates impact.

A Secondary Goal of the Time Well Spent Challenge was to build the email list. A “Sign Up for our Email List” call to action was visible above the fold of the homepage.

9. Prime your Social CRM.Remember the first principle of BIG IMPACT? It describes setting an audacious goal with accompanying metrics. Although there are seemingly countless ways to slice and dice donor data, keep your focus on the big picture. Ask yourself the simple question: What do we hope to achieve in this campaign?

Once this is identified, you can turn your attention to the necessary business of donor segmentation. Here your CRM will become your best friend. With your BIG IMPACT in mind, start delivering relevant communications to receptive segments of your donor population using the correct medium. Your CRM will also provide the feedback necessary to optimize future campaigns. Identifying your major donors and understanding which online tools increase their engagement will influence the planning for your next multi-channel campaign.

Holly Ross, executive director of NTEN made this point another way: “Though many of us think of data as a tool for reflecting on what HAS happened, I prefer to think of data as a way to create a better outcome in the future.”***

10. Integrate Social Media. Social Media strengthens outreach and is synergistic not only for re-enforcing your campaign’s key messages, but also when working across silos in your organization. Everyone can help.

Better yet, social media allows you to engage donors directly. Pose questions and solicit donors for their ideas. For example, Water for People asked, “What is your best example of Time Well Spent? Share in the comments below.”

Don’t forget your Social CRM. Add an overlay of social media metrics to your constituent data.

Some Additional Dials to Consider

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising. Water for People is working with peer-to-peer fundraising site, Crowdrise. Multiple teams are raising money and competing for fun prizes. Using individual fundraising pages extends Water for People’s reach with the added benefit of potential media exposure.

Marketing Partners.Water for People has two main corporate sponsors for this campaign. They are featured on the campaign “banner” which repeats itself on other landing pages and in emails.

Do the Dials

It’s time to dive into multi-channel outreach. Use these ten dials to establish reliable groundwork and simplify the process. Ten might become the new three!

Notes:

* page 12 and 15 respectively, eNonprofit Benchmarks Study; M + R Strategic Services and NTEN; http://www.e-benchmarksstudy.com.

** Page 17, 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study; M+R Strategic Services and NTEN

***NTEN Connect: Data More Than an Indicator Newsletter, Introduction by Holly Ross, http://www.nten.org

Amy Quinn is a respected speaker, consultant and most recently, author of Fundraising Innovators: Leaders in Social Enterprise Share New Approaches to Raising Money.  While she’s passionate about fundraising, if it’s snowing, she’ll be hollering down the ski slope with her husband and two children.