Fundraising campaigns require a lot of energy from a lot of people to be a success. People need to understand the urgency of the cause for your nonprofit. Some must be made to care. Donors want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world, and it is the fundraising campaign’s responsibility to help others share in the vision.
What is a Fundraising Campaign?
A fundraising campaign consists of people dedicated to gaining support and funds. Fundraising campaigns are usually run by or for nonprofits, but there are always exceptions. (Nowadays, individuals can get funded online easier than some nonprofits.) The campaign focuses on a purpose or problem to solve.
Team members set clear expectations with measurable goals. Fundraising campaigns can run for a few days, a month, or maybe even all year. After much hard work and a lot of asking (and maybe events), fundraising campaigns come to an eventual close, hopefully successful.
20 Tips To Get The Most From Your Fundraising Campaigns
1. Communicate a Message
The message should be clear and concise from the beginning. No matter what medium is used, the message should be the same. Every donor is an individual, so fundraisers should know their audience. Some may visit events and want to be highly involved. Others may only wish to make a donation and hear about the results.
Getting to know donors, supporters, and people who can help run the campaign is half of the work. Participants will want to be updated on the success and results of the campaign. Most importantly, everyone will want to know how their support and contributions can make a difference.
2. Set Goals and Expectations
Goals and expectations should be clear. Donors should be able to share in the vision in as many ways the campaign can make possible. When campaigns are specific about fundraising goals, others get an understanding of what kind of help the campaign needs. Clarity is the foundation for reaching goals.
Campaigns should establish a timeline. This helps team members stay on the same page when planning events and keeping track of campaign goals. Fundraising campaigns require a lot of energy—both time and money—and it is only through clear expectations that campaigns communicate the kind of help and support they need.
3. Create a campaign plan
Clear goals help in the development of an effective campaign plan. Fundraising campaigns require organization and strategy, and all fundraisers will want to communicate the same message. The campaign will need a title, timeline, and content plan (at least a draft).
In this day and age, it would be wise to utilize social media. The campaign plan may have a slogan which can be made into a hashtag for use on social platforms. The campaign will likely need an interesting landing page as well. Team members should divide the responsibilities among themselves so the campaign runs smoothly.
4. Be Consistent
The campaign plan involves selecting the right name for the fundraiser. Logos and brands help people easily identify campaigns. The brand and any brand colors should be used consistently for this purpose. Additionally, hashtags associated with the fundraising campaign should be used just as consistently.
5. Get Advice and Get Inspired
Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start reaching out to people, but really it’s just a matter of starting. We can look to other campaigns for inspiration and fundraising ideas, but without action, a plan is just a plan. Fundraisers—both teams and individuals—should remain inspired. They should get advice from those with more experience and turn that advice into action.
6. Find Donors and Influencers
Two of the most important contributors to the fundraising campaign are those funding the operation and those raising awareness about it. Donors want to know the value proposition, the internal rate of return (IRR), and that their funds will be used in some transforming way (consider developing a “transformation statement”). Influencers can spread awareness on and promote fundraisers, but they don’t want to misinform their audience members. Influencers will want to know the message and purpose of the fundraising campaign so they can communicate it to their followers.
7. Find Team Members and Volunteers
The hardest parts are raising awareness and making the ask. Fundraising campaigns need team members to establish connections with a lot of people. Team members should be trained and given incentive to build better relationships with supporters. Anyone on the team participating in peer-to-peer fundraising should be educated on effective fundraising techniques. People care. Quite often they just need some reason to get involved, maybe just the opportunity to volunteer. Team members should be active in finding ways to engage anyone who wants to participate.
8. Listen to Concerns
Fundraisers will talk to a lot of people from start to finish, and they should listen and make corrections along the way. Most potential donors will have concerns about the fundraising campaign. Donors want to be sure their investments don’t go to waste. Those working for the campaign will want to know every concern, why people donate, why people don’t donate, and record and analyze everything. Data from donors can be used to make corrections to the campaign plan in a way that addresses donor concerns.
9. Consider a Soft Launch
A soft launch is basically an announcement of the fundraiser before the official launch. The first donations are always the hardest, so team members should gather support from the start. People are more likely to participate in campaigns that already have some support. People should be excited about the idea from the start, and (again) the message should be clear. Supporters shouldn’t have to search for the ‘Why.’ Soft launches also provide opportunity for friendly supporters to help pinpoint any bugs or errors in the system before the official launch.
10. Use Email
Email is still a good way to connect with supporters before and after any contribution is made. Most donors want to be updated and informed on the progress and eventual success of the campaign. Email is a great way to communicate updates, but team members should make creative content and keep it interesting. Email can also be used to communicate upcoming events with supporters. It is important not to bombard anyone with too many emails. Campaigns should keep track of supporter and donor data and segment email lists in the attempt to bring value with every interaction.
11. Get Involved Locally
Local businesses can help spread awareness and expand a support base. (Local businesses are also great places to hang posters or host small fundraising events like bake sales.) Local businesses may be interested in donating to the campaign. Perhaps they would agree to set up a matching period (where people can donate knowing that whatever is gathered will be doubled).
Campaigns should also get the word out on local media and at local events. More exposure for a campaign is always better. Showing up to anything is half of the work, so fundraisers should get involved and just ask. People (and local businesses) can’t always give their money, but some can give their time to support the campaign instead.
12. Use Social Media
Social media is a great tool for spreading awareness. In recent years, some platforms have started accepting donations for fundraisers right there on social media. Fundraisers can create Facebook events, share them across Facebook groups, post it on Instagram, make a pin about it, and share it on Snapchat and LinkedIn. People can also use crowdfunding sites to help gather the funds. Team members should use a variety of channels, and each message should be made with the platform (and its users) in mind.
13. Create a Hashtag and Campaign Video
Videos and other visual content get more attention and interaction on social media than other forms. A campaign video can be used and shared across platforms. Videos are one of the easiest ways for people to consume information. (Regarding video content, more important than the visual content may be the accompanying audio content. It should be easy to hear.) Fundraising campaigns that utilize social media may want a hashtag to share the fundraiser and accompany the campaign video.
14. Make the Donation Process Simple
The donation process should be simple and easy to use. Website tests and soft launches can help team members identify errors. During this time they can also test a mobile version of the website. About half of people donating online are using a mobile device, so this is a necessity. When donors are given a good experience, they will remember that and share it with others in their network. Time is precious to everyone; don’t expect anyone to waste it.
15. Create Business Cards
Business cards are a simple way to relay basic information like the purpose of the fundraiser and contact information. People don’t always have time to talk, and sometimes it’s easier to tell potential supporters to go to the website or call the number on the card. Designers should include the brand and hashtag on business cards, posters, and stickers (if fundraisers want to go that route).
16. Consider Hanging Posters
In addition to designing a landing page, business cards, and making a mobile compatible website, fundraisers may consider designing posters. Not everyone uses the internet in the same way, and some don’t use it at all.
While it’s important to have a website and a social media presence, human involvement is extremely limited from behind a screen. The poster design, if team members choose, should be appealing. Strategic hanging is key. Sometimes this will require permission from property owners and help from friendly supporters.
17. Secure Matching Periods
In addition to spreading awareness, team members should be planning events and seeing if they can secure matching periods. A matching period is a limited period of time dedicated to doubling the initial donation. For example, some employers may offer to match how much their employees donate together. Matching period, or matching gift, scenarios vary, but the basics are the same and requires planning. There will need to be a cutoff time for donations and participation should have rules.
18. Ask for Recurring Donations
We never know until we ask. Finding recurring donors may require fundraisers to step outside of their direct networks, but recurring donors are already established supporters of the cause. It’s as simple as asking donors if they would prefer to make a one-time donation or if they would like to donate on a recurring basis.
By offering something like a membership, donors may feel more involved (and stay more informed). Some people would prefer to make consistent donations and receive regular updates, but not every donor sees it this way. Some would prefer to make a one-time donation, and offering rewards may help set the standards for those one-time donors.
19. Offer Rewards
Incentives inspire donors to contribute greater amounts. The campaign should consider offering different rewards for donors who make greater contributions. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant, but they should benefit the donor in some way.
Rewards and prizes can also act as an incentive for those who spread awareness about the fundraiser and any fundraising events. How contests are run may vary, but fundraisers may consider holding contests which offer prizes for those who get the most likes or those who share the most. Like rewards for donors, prizes for contest participants should bring them value and measure up to their level of involvement in some way.
20. Thank Donors and Offer Them Updates
Lines of communication should always be open between donors and team members. Supporters might appreciate updates about fundraising events and milestones. It is important to celebrate milestones as a team, and it’s nice to let donors (and other supporters) share in those celebrations. Creative updates and shout-outs go over well with supporters.
Never underestimate the power of email or social media in spreading the word about the campaign’s success. Raising the funds (and informing donors of financial success) is only a small part. What’s most important is that the funds go to good use and produce results. People want to know that their efforts, financial and otherwise, make a difference in the world. Never forget to give thanks to those who made the difference a possibility.