Multichannel vs Omnichannel Fundraising Campaigns

fundraising multichannel omnichannel year-end campaign

By R. Trent Thompson, Brand & Marketing Strategist

A rose is not a rose is not a rose. Not all fundraising campaigns are created equal.


Until recently, I used the word multichannel to describe the type of fundraising and awareness campaigns and strategies we create for nonprofit organizations. Truth is we’ve only ever created omnichannel campaigns.

Why on earth did I use the term multichannel? The reason was innocent enough. While almost everyone understood what multichannel meant, very few could grasp the concept of an omnichannel fundraising. The challenge is there are many line-blurring definitions floating around. Ideal conditions for some old-fashioned muddy water. So, I shied away from using a term that created unnecessary confusion.

The time has come to call a spade a spade. And, while righting this wrong, I want to also take this opportunity to help others understand the nuances between multichannel and omnichannel.

On the surface, they look very much alike. A multichannel campaign simply means using more than one channel, like direct mail, to engage your donors. Think of it as casting a very wide net to engage the most donors.

An omnichannel campaign also uses multiple channels to engage your donors but with two very important distinctions: First, your entire theme, messaging, and visuals are strategically applied across all channels and touch points of your campaign. This is important because it allows you to create a unified and consistent campaign experience for your donors. The second distinction is an omnichannel campaign is clearly segmented and based on a deep understanding of your donor’s preferences, giving patterns, and motivations.

The magic ingredient? Consistency, consistency, consistency.

Here’s why: You’ve worked hard to frame-up a campaign theme, messaging and stories. To create strong visuals. Powerful impact statements. A compelling call-to-action. The very last thing you ever want to do is create a chasmic disconnect between when a donor engages with your campaign — via direct mail, email, social media, event, grassroots, online advertising, media mention, telephone, face-to-face — and the moment he or she is ready to make a gift.

Undesirable disconnects are created through the use of inconsistent messaging and application of your theme across the touch points and channels of a campaign. Inconsistency creates poor donor engagement experiences. Poor donor experiences increase the possibility of you receiving smaller gifts. Smaller gifts that can be avoided if you ensure each donor experience remains consistent all the way through the gift transaction. And to complete the donor experience the right way, pull your campaign theme and messaging through to your gift acknowledgment letter.

What does a real-life omnichannel fundraising campaign look like? Take a look at the planning boards from the WatchMyStory campaign we created for The Children’s Center. It was one of our most successful campaigns in terms of donor engagement and funds raised. 

Omnichannel. A fundraising campaign by any other name would not smell as sweet.


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