3 min read

With many demands on your time, creating an integrated calendar for your direct response communications may not top the list of your priorities. Here’s why it should.

Gaining a long-range view of your communications and tying your messaging together to achieve a common purpose is always a good thing, especially when your goal is to raise money through direct response fundraising. 

The most successful organizations plan out their communications for the upcoming year in an “integrated calendar” that shows all of their mail and digital outreach and organizes the talking points for each campaign around central themes.

Here are some of the benefits of building and using and integrated calendar.

  1. Reinforcing your messaging by posting related content across different channels can boost donor response rates for campaigns and general engagement. If you use the same logos, imagery, and stories, you’ll ultimately make a bigger impression on your reader than if you only communicate in one channel. Plus, if you restate your ask in multiple touches, you’re increasing your chances that the donor makes a gift.

    The key here is continuity and a clear call to action. Laying everything out in an integrated calendar can help your strategists and creative team commit to a unified course of action so that your messaging for multichannel campaigns is consistent and effective.

  2. If you’re in the direct mail world right now, you’re probably aware that the printing industry is currently facing the worst paper shortage in living memory. Planning out your appeals and nailing down your target audiences well in advance will give you the information you need to work with your printer ahead of time to reserve paper and envelopes.

    This will ensure that you remain in the mail despite supply chain issues and that you can get your appeals out on time! Paper counts may seem insignificant, but mailing—and mailing on time—ultimately means more revenue and donors for your organization.

  3. Identifying and fleshing out overarching quarterly themes enables you to take your housefile donors on a messaging journey that has a compelling and logical structure. If your organization hasn’t been in the habit of communicating with your donors regularly, having a plan for how you want that messaging to progress throughout the year is even more important. You can also weave your acquisition communications strategy into this journey as you bring on new donors.

    Fundraising is about bringing donors deeper into the life of your organization and showing them how they are a part of everything you achieve. By planning out your communications to them in advance, you can be strategic about how you actually achieve this goal and effectively draw them into the heart of your organization.

  4. Although an integrated calendar provides a useful structure, it doesn't have to be inflexible. For example, if your organization wants to respond to evolving current events, you can make changes to your integrated calendar as needed. Some organizations also build an “urgent gram” type of appeal into their annual communications plan, with the messaging for the campaign to be determined at the start of production.

  5. Following a detailed integrated calendar gives your staff the ability to see at a glance what topics your organization has covered and how you targeted your audiences. What’s more, when it’s time to analyze results and build out a plan for the next year, having the previous year’s integrated calendar at your fingertips will help you see important patterns—both from the big-picture perspective and at a more granular level.

Although building out an integrated calendar requires a bit of extra work at the outset and an element of foresight, the benefits of having a plan and sticking to it as the year progresses make the effort worthwhile. A well-developed, thoughtful integrated calendar can be a key pillar of fundraising success.

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