The brand new multi-channel world of individual fundraising

publication date: Jan 5, 2012
author/source: Lisa MacDonald
It's dead easy to adapt to today's fundraising challenges, said Stephen Pidgeon reassuringly to a room of diehard sceptics (a.k.a. fundraisers) at AFP Toronto's Congress 2011. To be successful, fundraisers need to give further satisfaction to the donor, help to build communities to do the work for you and then get out of the way!

The "how" of making this happen is directly related to the use of multi-channel media. Here are Pidgeon's recommendations for being on the leading edge of change. He predicts that in five years, these techniques (currently used by very few charities) will become mainstream.

Get communities working for you
  • If you're running an event, run a virtual event at the same time.
  • Use PURLs (personalized URLs) to move the donor from paper to the Internet. When a direct mail recipient logs onto the PURL, the information from the database is used to personalize the web page experience to that person. Once the individual logs in, the website can track the respondent's activity and continue to tailor the information based on behaviour. This information can also be used to further customize future print and Internet communications.
  • Encourage team building by rewarding your participants after an event. Make event pictures available online.
  • Telephone donors if they have opened a PURL or e-newsletter but haven't made a donation...or at the very least, customize your next communication to acknowledge what they're interested in.
  • Create a Facebook site for people supporting a particular project, allowing the donor to stay involved by visiting the project online. World Vision does this very successfully.
  • Join together those who choose the same project or indicate the same interest.
  • Use a webcam to get the supporter closer to the cause.
  • When donors designate their gifts, encourage them to associate with a giving community of other supporters of the same project or cause. The fear of reduced funding for normal operations often leads charities to shy away from promoting designated giving - but those designations are a great tool for community building and greater connection with your charity.
Communities can work against you

Once your communities are formed, be aware that there are dangers to letting sub-groups fundraise. Your brand can get crucified! Consider using digital print and centrally-organized templates (information sheets, posters, brochures, sponsor kits etc.) that can be ordered over the Internet. Not only will this help protect your brand, it helps your events team to hear about, and offer support to, all the events going on. Also, preparing a clear strategy for dealing with social media pressure will be time well spent in the event of a public relations crisis.

A final thought

At the end of the session, Pidgeon left the group with a provocative question - why do so many charitable organizations function with a communication team separate from the fundraising department?  For Pidgeon, all communication should be about fundraising and any marketing activity is, in fact, a fundraising function.

As a result, his final technique for success in the new world of fundraising is to eliminate silos and get all fundraising and communication staff working as one unit.

Lisa MacDonald photoStephen Pidgeon is founder and principal consultant of Tangible, a nineteen-year-old marketing agency with clients that include the Royal British Legion, Oxfam, World Vision and the Salvation Army. Contact him by email.

Lisa MacDonald is Assistant Editor of Hilborn's flagship newsletters, Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy and Hilborn eNEWS. A degree in journalism and communications from Carleton University and more than 12 years of experience as a nonprofit communications professional infors her passion for and understanding of issues in this sector. Lisa welcomes your ideas and comments about this article. Contact her by email.

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