Multichannel Acquisition: Growing Your House File from Various Sources
Posted by Guest Blogger at Mar 26, 2014 07:03 AM CDT

This article was written by guest author Angela Struebing, agency director for CDR Fundraising Group.

New donor acquisition is the pillar of any nonprofit. Without new donors, attrition will whittle down an organization’s file, revenue, and ability to run programs and fulfill its mission. 

Fortunately, with new and emerging technologies, today’s fundraisers have many channels by which to acquire new donors. Which are best for you, depends on your organization’s objectives, resources, and capacity. Ultimately, a fully integrated approach utilizing multiple channels in concert is optimal. 

Direct Mail

Direct mail remains the workhorse of the fundraising industry: 93 percent of fundraising dollars are still raised through traditional offline channels1— and your typical donor (female, 60+) still gives via mail. Shore up your direct mail efforts before branching out, and continue to test (creative, offers, ask strings, etc.) within your file to optimize net revenue and lower your cost to acquire a new donor. 

Digital Media

Online channels expand opportunities to deliver multiple touch points to prospects. 

In multi-touch, coordinated efforts, each channel’s messaging and creative must be synonymous. Also, remember that online donors convert more easily to offline donors than vice versa. Consider the initial motivation that brought a person on to the file and carry that messaging through to the housefile. 


Historically, telemarketing donors have a lower conversion rate to offline donors than online donors, but telemarketing can be a great channel for reactivating lapsed donors. Thank-you calls to newly acquired donors, regardless of source, can also increase subsequent retention and revenue.

Peer to Peer 

Event-based fundraising (runs, walks, rides) has exploded in popularity. While these events are typically successful in and of themselves, it can be difficult to convert the new donors they attract to repeat donors, as their relationship is usually with the participant rather than organization. Immediate follow up through social media posts, email communications, direct mail, and in some cases, calls to larger gift donors, can help convert them. 

Direct Response Television

While DRTV has been around for over 30 years, it is being used by more organizations as the barriers to entry are reduced. DRTV is truly an integrated medium, since one must make a gift through another channel (online or phone). Success with DRTV can change the face of an organization, as it traditionally brings on monthly sustainers who will be around for years. 

Many cookie targeting firms have started to offer cookie targeting that is coordinated with commercials. This technology allows for three distinct touch points to a prospect in three different channels: mail, online, and television.

All Together Now

Oftentimes, various channels are handled by different, siloed departments. The starting point for integration is to get all stakeholders on board. You’ll need to explain how budget and efforts in one area will influence and drive traffic or donations in another.  Attribution models can help show how gifts are accounted for across channels. 

With a multichannel program, databases should be synced — or on the same platform — so donor communications can reference the specific ways they’re involved and you can set an appropriate ask string. 

With today’s technology, fundraising is reaching new heights. The most successful organizations still use direct mail as a base, but they’re also testing, integrating and adopting new channels. 

(1) 2012 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report

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