I hope you read Roger’s post Monday — 3 Truths And 1 Lie — comparing online and offline donors, and discussing some of the myths involved. And further, I hope you read the analysis by Steve MacLaughlin on which Roger relied.

What their analysis confirms is that multi-channel donors — those giving both online and offline — are the most valuable donors of all.

Which raises a sort of chicken or egg question — can a multi-channel donor be ‘hatched’?!

Or is this creature just a gift of nature? An oddity for which you should thank your lucky stars.

What’s the path to creating a multi-channel donor? The optimist hopes for one.

Or is it sheer accident — your nonprofit throws mud at every wall in sight, postal mailing today, emailing tomorrow? And by happenstance your donor responds to mail one time and email the next? To me, that suggests a ‘channel neutral’ donor who, thankfully, happens to be more committed than most donors to your organization. By ‘more committed’ I mean they’re willing to pay attention to your messaging however it arrives. Being pessimistic, I’m guessing that their special commitment precedes your communications tactics! Sorry about that. You’re just lucky to have that donor.

Or is there a strategy involved?

Does your organization have a deliberate strategy aimed at encouraging, say, first-time postal donors to offer up their email addresses so they can be approached online? Do you have a deliberate strategy aimed at accomplishing the reverse?

And if you’ve tried to accomplish this conversion methodically, how well has it worked? Is it easier to get a follow-on offline gift from a donor who initially gives online. Or the reverse? In either case, the challenge is to get the donor to proffer that extra second bit of needed information — the other address — you don’t possess at the outset.

If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it!

But what’s your answer to why you need it?

And if your donor expresses a channel preference, do you honor it?

I guess what’s bugging me in this multi-channel discussion is: if you don’t have an effective plan for actually converting single-channel donors to multi-channel donors, who cares if multi-channel donors are more valuable? For you, it’s a moot discussion.

Unless you find they just hatch.

Tom

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This article was posted in: Communications, Direct mail, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Integrated fundraising and marketing, Online fundraising and marketing.
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