How to rise above the noise.

Oct 6, 2022

There’s no doubt about it. We’re all subject to information overload. We’re bombarded by thousands of messages, advertisements, and calls-to-action every day. But we can’t possibly remember them all. And we will act on even fewer.

This creates a problem for nonprofit professionals. After all, our messages are important. Our causes matter. And we can’t do it alone. You need the support of like-minded individuals to back your efforts.

But how can you rise above the noise to reach them, make your message stick, and inspire action this appeal season?

It starts by thinking differently about your approach.

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1. Send a mission-driven message.

The ability to tell a compelling story is crucial to successful communication for any organization. So, no matter what you do or how you do it, you need to tell your story in a meaningful way to build a connection with your audience.

And that story needs to explain your why.

Why does your organization exist? Why is your work important? Why are people counting on your organization? And why should someone support you?

As fundraisers, it’s easier for us to talk about programs and initiatives, and hope our audiences stay engaged. But then we lose sight of the big picture and why you’re asking for support. And that pushes donors away.

Revisiting or rediscovering the answer to why and aligning it with your core message is the first step in building fundraising communications that rise above the noise.

READ MORE: Quick tips to improve your nonprofit’s message.

Applying personalized URLs to your direct mail pieces can help you track how direct mail drives online giving more effectively.

2. Add a personal touch.

As a fundraiser, you already know about the power of personalization. Messages that feel unique to each recipient show donors they are a crucial part of putting your mission to work.

Donors will will find another organization that goes the extra mile if they feel like an ATM.

And while many fundraisers think adding a small personal touch is enough, we’re talking about much more.

Nonprofits strive to communicate on a one-to-one level with donors. But there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to craft a truly personal message for every member of your audience.

The solution?  Create communications that feel more relevant with highly targeted audience segments.

Communicating with segments differently makes your message rise above the noise and feel closer to every individual. It allows you to talk directly to groups like lapsed donors, monthly donors, or volunteers.

And there’s no shortage of ways to use segmentation to communicate more effectively. You can also get started by using demographic traits like donor location, generation, or industry of work.

READ MORE: How personalized landing pages can elevate your outreach.

DOWNLOAD: Your year-end appeal.

3. Go surround sound.

We are a culture of consumers, and we are bombarded with thousands of messages every day.

“Drive this car!” “Eat this food! “Support this cause!” “Watch this movie!”

These messages come at us from all directions and in every medium. No wonder it’s so easy for your nonprofit’s message to get lost in the clutter. Yet, some organizations still send a direct mail appeal and wait to see how much they raise.

But if you want your communications to stand out, you need to reach your audience with the right message, in the right way, at the right time.

A campaign that leverages cross-channel communications is your best bet.

Try sending an email appeal a week before a regular print appeal. You might be surprised to see a new slew of online donations when your mailer is delivered. If your initial email inspired donors, but they didn’t follow through, your direct mail appeal can remind them to go back and finish making their gift! And a final email touch can help seal the deal.

You will see the best results when direct mail and digital strategies work together.

In fact, according to Nonprofits Source, campaigns that used direct mail and at least one digital communication had a 118 percent higher response rate compared to using direct mail only.

And believe it or not, your print appeal is a huge driver of online giving! According to Mobile Cause, donors are three times more likely to give online in response to a direct mail appeal than an email.

READ MORE: Are you going surround sound with your communications?

Send different versions of your year-end appeal based on whether someone donated on GivingTuesday.

4. Let your data drive.

As fundraisers, we love data. And you know there are so many ways to apply a data-driven approach to your communications. But for now, let’s put talk about your donor database aside and focus on the actionable analytics of your campaigns.

We’re talking about understanding how a recipient engaged with previous messages and personalizing the next touch appropriately.

Let’s say your campaign includes both email and direct mail appeals. You’ve resent emails to those who didn’t open or click. But what do you do with donors who clicked but didn’t follow through with a donation once they landed on your giving page?

Maybe you should double down with a direct mail appeal emphasizing the impact of their support instead of sending another email.

Donors who clicked the CTA in your email are interested in your mission and work.

But they may have gotten distracted and didn’t follow through. Or maybe they need one more example of how you put every fundraising dollar to work before committing. Either way, a direct mail follow up can be the push they need.

READ MORE: 3 ways nonprofits use donor data to improve results.

There’s a lot more to it.

Whether it’s going above and beyond with your personalization strategies, taking mission-centric storytelling to the next level, or finding new ways to use cross-channel communications, there’s a lot more to talk about than we can cover in this post.

Rather than get into every detail, this post summarizes the four building blocks to more engaging fundraising communications. These are the core pieces of every strategy we build with our clients to make their message rise above the noise.

Want to learn more about how to stand out, raise more money, and have a bigger impact this appeal season?

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