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Dual-Channel Donors Give the Most and Earn the Most

The following is a guest post by Dennis McCarthy, VP of Strategy and Business Practice at Convio.

Dennis McCarthy

Integrated marketing, that is, the coordination of communication and solicitation efforts across multiple channels and programs, has been a frequently discussed topic within nonprofit circles for decades now. Indeed most nonprofits have been operating in several marketing channels for quite some time. However, there remains limited clarity on how to optimize integrated marketing channels in order to maximize the constituent’s relationship with a charity.

Furthermore, there has been very limited quantification surrounding the relative financial value of different engagement approaches e.g. dual channel vs. single channel communications. Convio, along with CARE USA, recently completed Insights into Integrated Marketing Constituent Behavior to further the thinking and dialog around integrated marketing

The study takes a deep dive into the metrics associated with a multi-channel marketing program at one large nonprofit, CARE – particularly the relationship between traditional direct mail and digital channels (also referred to in the study as offline and online).

While we’ve known for some time that an integrated multi-channel approach to constituent engagement is key for nonprofits to be successful, the study’s findings provide more concrete and statistical confirmation. We can now more confidently say that nonprofits need to adapt to in the way they both engage externally with their supporters as well as organize their efforts internally. Integration on both fronts is imperative.

Key Findings

  • Dual channel donors give the most. On average, dual channel donors give $123.29 annually, this is 46 percent more value to a nonprofit than direct mail only donors.
  • Adding digital channels does not materially cannibalize revenue from direct mail. Multi-channel donors gave almost as much through traditional sources as offline only donors.
  • Online engagement improves the retention of traditional offline direct response donors. This illustrates that the ROI of online engagement should not solely be measured by giving online.
  • There is no discernable downside to cultivating direct mail donors via email. Maximizing email collection for that audience and giving the option to give and engage through both channels is important.

Key Recommendations

Combining insights from this study as well as our 2011 study Integrated Multi-Channel Marketing – Where Nonprofit Organizations Are Today and Key Success Factors Moving Forward and work with clients, we have arrived at the following key recommendations

  • Ensure your organization is committed and aligned. Realize that integrated marketing success is a large commitment and requires new thinking inside the organization. It probably requires discussion and some level of organizational realignment, and at minimum goal resetting and sharing. It likely requires system adaptation, and certainly requires new business process implementation.
  • Aggregate data and build analytics. The premise of integrated marketing is to discern through feedback from and interaction with constituents how best to engage them to maximize their lifetime value. To understand cross-channel and program insights, and to effectively enact integrated campaigns, it is important to aggregate all key constituent data in a single place.
  • Architect new segmentation and treatment strategies different cohorts of supporters. This study shows that donors can be described by their channel preferences in addition to others characteristics. The macro recommendation is that nonprofits need to move away from a mostly one-size fits all approach to multi-channel communications and to architect treatment paths that align to donor preferences.

To download the full study, including details on each of our key recommendations, visit

Dennis McCarthy is Convio’s VP of Strategy and Business Practice. A frequent speaker in the nonprofit sector, he has more than 25 years of integrated direct marketing, fundraising and consulting experience.


April 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Who uses words like “aggregate data,” “architect new segmentation,” and “macro recommendation?” This article would be easier to understand and digest if it were written in plain English rather than this stilted mumbo-jumbo.

Topics: Nonprofit Programs