How to Rise Above the Noise
by Mike Montalto
October 15, 2020

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 likeminded individuals to back your efforts.

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

It starts with thinking differently by using the four building blocks of fundraising communications.

READ: Why Your Nonprofit’s Call-to-Action Doesn’t Inspire Donors

Rediscovering why your organization exists, why your work matters, and why someone should help are key to developing mission driven messaging.

1. A mission-driven message.

The ability to tell a compelling story is crucial to successful communication for any organization. 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 why 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: 5 Manageable Methods to Improve Your Nonprofit’s Message

Breaking your audience into segments and building communications for each targeted group will help you me more personal and relevant in your outreach.

2. Personalization and relevancy.

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

If a donor feels like an ATM, they will just find another organization that goes the extra mile to make donors feel special.

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. But you can create communications that feel more relevant with highly targeted audience segments.

Communicating with segments differently makes your message rise above the noise because it feels closer to the individual. It allows you to talk with groups like lapsed donors, monthly donors, or volunteers more exclusively.

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: Three Easy Ways to Segment Your Nonprofit’s Audience

Communications that make an impact reach their audience with the right message, in the right way, at the right time.

3. Multi-channel integration.

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.

So, a campaign that leverages cross-channel communications to reach your audience 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 their making their gift! And a final email touch can help seal the deal.

Today’s fundraisers see the best results when their 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 your print appeal is actually 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: 5 Things Your 2020 Year-End Appeal Needs to Include

Understanding how a recipient engaged with previous messages will help you personalize the next touch more appropriately.

4. Data that drives delivery.

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 and 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 importance of following through with their donation, instead of sending another email.

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

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

READ: 3 Easy Ways Nonprofits Use Donor Data

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.

So, start thinking of ways you can apply these cornerstones in your own fundraising strategy. Because even though the world is a noisy place, YOUR message needs to be heard!

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