Integrated Fundraising: Using a Multichannel Approach to Your Fundraising Ask

nonprofit fundraising nonprofit strategy

Take it from me, the term “integrated fundraising” is not just another buzz phrase. It is here to stay.

In fact, thanks to the current ultra-competitive fundraising environment, nonprofit fundraisers – without question – must use all tools at their disposal. This means direct mail, email, social media and phone calls. And one should never assume any one particular channel is past its prime.

At IPM, our team of fundraising experts believes that each fundraising channel – when used strategically and in unison via an integrated approach – can deliver very impressive returns on your investment.


What Exactly Is Integrated Fundraising?

Simply running multiple campaigns in multiple channels is not integrated fundraising. Just because you distribute messages through traditional channels – think direct mail and other online platforms like social media – does not mean you’re integrating your appeals. The campaign may be consistent and the timing coordinated, but it is likely lacking a key element: a cross-channel messaging and distribution strategy.

To maximize donations, you must proactively manage the campaigns across all channels.


It’s Not As Complicated As It Seems

Developing and managing integrated fundraising campaigns can be difficult if different teams within your organization manage different channels. For instance, if you have one team in charge of direct mail and another team managing online activity, building an integrated strategy can be more challenging.

Here’s a better strategy: have one team manage all channels.

Integrated fundraising is about intelligently coordinating strategic messaging and moving prospective donors to action. So while you distribute your message across multiple channels, you are creating a unified message and execution. Ultimately, each channel supports the other.

Furthermore, the results of integrated campaigns are measured as a whole. In the multichannel approach, nonprofit marketers would measure performance by individual channel. For example, multi-channel fundraising determines the response rate by measuring performance on each individual channel. Integrated fundraising would measure results for all the channels combined.

In a multi-channel approach, direct mail results may indicate a lower performing channel. Yet, integrated fundraising examines the contribution direct mail makes to the overall campaign success. In many cases, direct mail may be driving donors to another channel to contribute. Integrated fundraising does not consider each channel’s performance independently, but in terms of its contribution to a campaign’s overall success.

It’s important to understand that integrated fundraising requires strategic coordination of timing and messaging. It’s one synergistic campaign across multiple channels. The strength of the strategy lies in how each individual channel reinforces the others and contributes to a higher performing campaign.


The Bottom Line

Simply put, integrated fundraising campaigns perform at higher rates of response. In our experience with nonprofit clients, fundraising campaigns that integrate channels often net a higher ROI compared with campaigns that deploy any medium independently.

Many studies show ROI can deliver double digits for nonprofits. Using an integrated fundraising strategy leveraging direct mail, email, telephone and social media for example, will almost certainly improve results. Organizations can expect up to a 21 percent increase in online revenue, a 20 percent increase in the number of gifts, a $20 average monthly gift and a $60 average one-time gift.

At the end of the day, the key to successful integrated fundraising is to proactively and strategically manage the campaign as a whole, rather than by individual channel.

This blog post was adapted from the IPM Advancement whitepaper, Integrated Fundraising. Download the whitepaper from our free Nonprofit Resource Library for information on 8 additional metrics that are essential to fundraising success.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

Contact IPM