Your integrated fundraising campaign is like a puzzle. Each piece – the great story, the channels you choose to deliver that story, the clear and compelling call to donate; all of that and more – comes together to create a big picture (that is, a powerful giving experience for your donors!).

But there’s another ‘big picture’ that your fundraising puzzle shows you – and it can be a trickier one to see. When you mix together mail, email, search, social, website, video, phone, and any other channels to create a multi-channel donor journey, you will also need to look at the results in a multi-channel way.

In other words: the results for each puzzle piece may be in places you haven’t thought to look.

the direct mail pieces of the integrated campaign puzzle

How donors experience your fundraising campaign

Have you heard of the “rule of seven”? It’s a handy rule of thumb that states a prospect or donor must see or interact with your campaign a minimum of seven times before they are inclined to take action.

That’s right. Seven touches, delivered through different channels and at different times – but always with cohesive creative – are needed to keep your campaign top-of-mind in today’s comms clutter.

After all, the pieces in your campaign – social media ads, email appeals, direct mail – aren’t being received in a vacuum. When they’re out in the world, they’re in context with other asks, yes, but they’re also in context with each other.

The truth of that ‘rule of seven’ is debated – but in my years of experience there’s a core idea that holds true: you want your target donor to see you, and you want it to be more than once.

That’s why creating an integrated strategy for each campaign is where you will see the greatest results. You can simply create a greater volume of touchpoints with more channels to choose from.

Yet, so often, when charities look at the results of an integrated campaign, we look at them from a siloed perspective: revenue split out by mail, email, ads, and so on. We analyze how each of those channels worked independently from one another, placing the emphasis on the channel that drove the donation or that was last received by the user.

And we get it – it’s often so much easier to attribute revenue this way! But when we measure integrated performance through a channel-based lens, we see only a tiny piece of that multi-channel experience we’ve worked so hard to create.

An integrated campaign = integrated results

Everything in your campaign works together – the creative concepts, the messaging, the area of need, all of it. Every piece of the puzzle connects to another to create the whole picture. So, if the campaign is integrated, the results are, too. Taking away one piece changes the whole puzzle!

Let’s take the reply coupon as an example. We know that donors don’t always respond to the mail, through the mail. We’ve got the data to prove it, too. In our 2022 report, Changing Tides: The Evolution of Giving Behaviour in Canada; 60% of respondents said they made their gift online when they responded to a fundraising letter in the mail.

That’s a huge portion of your direct mail donors showing up in your reporting as online donors – and two channels working in tandem to drive and secure the gift. Looking at just your mail or online results individually doesn’t give you the whole picture.

Look to all the pieces: what’s coming in from emails, on your donation page during the time frame of the appeal, even site traffic and where people go when they land on your site. Our experience and our research tells us that all of these results are connected – and changing or even cutting in one channel can have a dramatic impact in another.

With all that being said, we know you’re often working with limitations in databases and systems that make integrated results more difficult to parse. However, as fundraisers we know that the human element is important in everything we do – plus, it shows the true impact of the incredible work you’re putting into your campaigns!

Build the puzzle and look at the whole picture it creates

When you put in the hours to develop a multi-channel fundraising campaign – much like taking on a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle – you’ll want to stand back and admire your work at the end. Take it all in, and see the results the same way your donors see your campaign: as an integrated whole, rather than many pieces.

And of course, you’ll need to plan for those gifts to come in – how you’re going to thank donors and keep donors engaged with your organization. Pop that puzzle in a frame and look at it every day!

My advice is this: whether you’re developing a plan for a multi-channel campaign or analyzing the results of one, include the rest of the puzzle to ensure you’re seeing the whole picture.