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Year-end giving: Multichannel fundraising is here to stay

For more than a century, the last two months of the year has been associated with charity and cheer.

In the classic novella “A Christmas Carol,” published back in 1843, charity collectors approach Ebenezer Scrooge on a December night. Scrooge’s initial response of “Bah! Humbug!” is not on the short list of desired responses to a fundraising appeal.

Later, we see Scrooge’s mood and heart change—signaled by the generous purchase of a prized bird for a Christmas meal.

The Dickens story is a favorite of mine—but not necessarily the root of your year-end multichannel fundraising strategy (unless you can contract the three spirits to conduct some face-to-face campaigns for you).

So, before we prepare the figgy pudding and prep our cravats for Ol’ Fezziwig’s annual party—let’s talk turkey about your year-end marketing and fundraising efforts.

Today, consumers are plugged into an average of 4.3 internet-connected devices. Multichannel is the only way to ensure that you will catch your donors’ attention on at least one of these devices.

It is evident that “being where your donors are” is more crucial today than ever. You must spread your message across a variety of outlets, making your message stand out -- online or off.

You need a multichannel fundraising strategy. And you need to start planning now.


"I wear the chain I forged in life," said Jacob Marley, Scrooge's deceased business partner, shown portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness in a 1970 musical rendition of "Scrooge." Moral of the story: bad strategy will put chains on your fundraising.


More impressions = More conversions

Being consistently at the forefront of your donor’s mind during year-end is important during a time of Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday bargains, and the general chaos all around. Connect with your donors, and in return you will be thanked with their hard-earned attention.

Make your message memorable by taking an authentic storytelling approach. You need to clearly present the problem that your mission is trying to solve—and then show the impact that is made when a donor partners with you by giving a gift.

RKD Group incorporated Ava, a patient who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 3-years-old, in Ava was seen on both traditional and nontraditional channels, like Facebook ads, direct mail and email marketing appeals, web experiences like lightboxes and landing pages, and she even appeared on talk shows.

With paid efforts in social media, you have the ability to send donors through a funnel that can convert followers into donors. Starting at the top of the funnel, followers see your posts and begin to gain organization awareness. Next, the engagement occurs, and followers are motivated to head to your profile to find out more about your organization and its mission. This action builds brand recognition and trust. Finally, conversion strategies can be used to acquire new donors and get that donation.  You can tell the full story through this funnel, optimizing calls-to-action through the funnel to educate, engage and convert.

Impressions were formerly a dirty word in direct response—now, through proper data strategy, you can see the impact of channels and how the impressions lead to engagement and donations.


According to Blackbaud’s 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, 54% of donors worldwide prefer to give online. Last year, people raised over $1 billion on Facebook.

Take your digital fundraising to the next level by getting smart with your digital strategy. Create segments in your campaign and strategically target your audience across channels. By taking your traffic and splitting them into different groups based on demographic factors, you can gain deeper insights on who is visiting your website, and on their behavior.

As well as this, use UTM codes to track your year-end campaigns within Google Analytics. These simple paraments can be attached to any URL that you’re adding to webpages, emails, landing pages, and social media posts. This is another great way to gain insight into how your digital is performing.

Before working with RKD Group, North Texas Food Bank struggled with properly utilizing all channels to increase traffic to their website. Their Google Ad Grant was not actively optimized, and their emails weren’t leading to deep engagement (:20 seconds or more) on their site content. RKD optimized their Google Ad Grants strategy to increase site visits. Email marketing strategies also focused on click-throughs to their donation forms/landing pages/etc. This resulted in a 41% increase in web page visits and a 91% increase in overall site visits. An instant rise in website interaction was the result of optimizing their digital program.

Wanting to learn more digital dos? Head to our blog for a list of ways to enhance your digital efforts.


Besides building website traffic, it is important to focus on what inspires your donors to give before they even visit your website. The Blackbaud 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report revealed that the majority of donors who give online are most inspired to give through social media.

The days of social media as a channel for younger generations is long-gone.  Baby Boomers spend an average of hour and 48 minutes per day on social media platforms.

Your donors and prospective donors are connected online, daily.  By optimizing your channels, you can increase your relevancy as a way to connect. While it may not be your main focus come year-end, your social media strategy should not fall by the wayside. Actively posting on social media channels that your donors are most likely to frequent ensures the likelihood of them seeing your posts.

Here are a few rules to follow when thinking about your organic social media posts:

  1. Utilize the big holidays, but keep in mind everyone else is, too. Boosting posts on holidays is encouraged to make sure your audience sees your post.
  2. Continue to show the impact of the high volume of donations and what the organization is actively doing during the holiday season. For example, “Because of you, this Thanksgiving we were able to provide XYZ.”
  3. Post consistently so your posts are less likely to get lost in oversaturated timelines.
  4. Consistent messaging should be reflected in all campaigns you’re running throughout year-end, this means social media, too.


St. Labre Indian School effectively utilizes organic social media to boost engagement and grab the attention of donors and supporters across the globe. This strengthens the connection between the donor and the organization, building trust and engagement, crucial components of beginning the donor journey.


We all know that direct mail is no stranger to the show when it comes to year-end fundraising. However, take it to the next level by looking at it through a multichannel lens with fewer distractions than digital. Include a compelling narrative and a strong ask in your direct mail outreach to connect donors to your mission in a way that no other medium can.

You can read more about how to improve your year-end direct mail efforts here.


You may be wondering, what is the best approach to making the ask?

To that we say, motivate your donors with your mission.

Not premiums.  Not complicated numbers.

Your mission—the problem you are trying to solve—is the reason for someone to give.  Your mission, presented clearly, inspires authenticity in your need for support.

Last year-end, we ran a triple match package for the North Texas Food Bank that connected the monetary amounts to the number of nutritious meals that could be provided. For example, “Every $1 given triples to help provide 9 healthy meals for North Texans facing hunger.”

Using the same approach in another multichannel triple-match campaign done for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, we saw a 66% click increase, resulting in more than 200 donations over the short span of three months.

By coordinating your marketing efforts, it is simple to streamline your messaging and make the move to multichannel. By utilizing different channels, more demographics will be reached, more attention will be captured, and more awareness will be cultivated.

Want to learn more about starting your multichannel strategy?

Back to Scrooge.  You may not know that the origin of the classic Dickens tale has even deeper roots in Philanthropy.  The root of the story came after Dickens himself visited a school dedicated to educating impoverished children.

Dickens was moved by the mission of the Samuel Starey’s Field Lane Ragged School—prompting him to appeal to contemporaries for support.  Fueled by his own upbringing, he considered writing “An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”

Instead, he penned A Christmas Story.

Dickens knew the meaning of connection through relevancy and authenticity, and how meaningfulness can be fashioned through building a relationship with the reader.  Let us allow that same spirit to be our guide this Year-End.

Justin McCord

Justin McCord is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at RKD Group, leading the sales and marketing teams. Justin oversees brand management, business development and content marketing for RKD, and he hosts the award-winning Groupthinkers podcast. He is also a regular speaker and contributor to nonprofit marketing events, helping shine a light on current issues and progressive strategies to align channels and improve connection.

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