Study: Nonprofits Are Behind In Sending Multichannel Communications

Nonprofit fundraisers are failing to conduct multichannel campaigns that reach both online and offline donors, and offline givers are mostly being forgotten, according the State of Multi-Channel Donor Communications, a study by Virtuous and NextAfter Institute. 

Only 14% of the groups studied in a test sent at least one email to offline donors in a four-month period, but 55% sent one email or more to online contributors. And one in five organizations failed to communicate with the offline donor at all in that period.

Only 3% of nonprofits leveraged multichannel messaging. 

In addition, the study found that online donors are more likely to get multichannel communications, including those sent by postal mail. 

To conduct this research, the team attempted to make $20 donations -- both online and offline -- to 119 organizations, succeeding with 102. It used two separate donor personas, providing unique phone numbers, emails and mailing addresses.



The online donors received 2,297 communications, including 1,736 emails. Offline contributors received 161 emails and 192 postal communications. 

Online donors were sent 183 postal pieces, versus 192 for offline givers. 

Breaking it down further, online donors got 1,222 “cultivation emails,” compared to 236 for offline contributors.  And the online people received 713 solicitations, while those in the offline cohort got 126.

In addition, 55% of the organizations communicated with online and offline donors in multiple channels, but only 7% bothered to do so with offline donors.

Overall, 20% of the groups included some mention of COVID-19 during the giving experience.  

Health organizations were most likely to mention COVID-19 in their copy, followed human services and education groups. 

Faith-based and public policy & advocacy groups were least likely to mention COVID-19.

Among NextAfter clients, multichannel groups achieve $494 in average donor value. In contrast, online only pull $148, offline only $159 an offline with valid email $301. 

The research tells us that touching donors on multiple channels, starting with email and traditional mail, is critical to increasing donor retention and average gift,” writes Gabe Cooper, CEO of Virtuous.


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