Setting Up a Successful Fundraising Campaign

December 31, 2016
5 minutes

While each nonprofit fundraising campaign is different from a previous one, especially one from another nonprofit, there are some common fundamental best practices for all nonprofits to benefit from. 

Let's assume you've got the basics down on creating a fundraising campaign. You've already built an engaging community online; they're happy to help in your cause and ready to jump anytime to take action. Now a bit of strategy will be needed to ensure your fundraising campaign becomes the success that it is meant to be.

Engage and coordinate your multi-channel campaign

You will need to harness the combined tools of website content management, social media, traditional types of media, and email blasts. The goal is to motivate your supporters at every opportunity you can wherever they are online or off in an effort to get them to take action.

It is vitally important that branding and consistency remain strong. Your supporters need to see the same message across all channels so that the interaction between each is the same from the donor's side.

Give thought to where and how you will be launching different appeals along the way. Emails, website updates, social media updates, and any real-life events will need to be coordinated so they flow in concert to create a (hopefully) viral buzz around your campaign.

Take it to the next step by asking or inviting your supporters to spearhead their own parallel campaigns as peer-to-peer fundraising makes a huge impact.

Create your sense of urgency

To do this right means keeping your campaign timeline short. If it's possible, keep it to a week or two. Campaigns lasting too long will grow stale and lose their momentum quickly. You don't want potential supporters to say, "Well, I've got a month to donate so it can wait until later." Most often, they will forget and never come back.

Short campaigns create a sense of urgency where your impact statement and rallying cry should be dramatic. Emphasize the deadline that is looming large. You will show that dire consequences will unfold if the deadline isn't met (for instance, another donor or company will stop matching funds after a certain date).

The greater the urgency in the campaign, the greater the opportunity for your supporters to pay attention, act, and help spread the word.

Create a clear call-to-action

"Give a dollar and save a turtle," "Help a child go to school with your $5 donation,"; people want your messaging to be clear and to the point. 

Set realistic goals

Be ambitious, but keep the goal within reach. You want to avoid setting yourself up for failure, so ensure the target is achievable and not overwhelming to meet within the timeline needed.

As an example, "Help us raise $3,000 by the end of December to feed 200 families in Los Angeles", as opposed to "Help us raise $2 million to eliminate hunger forever!"

Make it easy for donors to act

Nothing says failed campaign better than running a great promotion but creating a difficult process to make a donation. Set up your donors to be able to contribute with only a few clicks:

  • The donation process must be quick and easy (intuitive)
  • The donation page must be mobile-friendly
  • Make use of the YouTube for Nonprofits program. Donors can then just right-click and jump to your donation webpage.
  • Always having your donation button included in your fundraising emails.

When it comes to gathering a bit more data about your donors, make sure you do this after they donate, never before. Best to eliminate any friction from the donation process.

It needs to be mentioned to do a pre-check of your donation page with a few volunteers to ensure the process is smooth and quick.

Use visuals to tell your story

Visual storytelling is extremely important to your organization's successful fundraising campaign. It is the most important element of your online content. Most successful campaigns will run a 'one-narrative' approach: one individual, one village, or one specific scenario to tell a compelling story.

Sad stories do work but keep the focus on positive outcomes. Donors want to know their contribution made a difference and isn't just money being tossed into a donation well of despair. 

Keep your supporters engaged

Really great campaigns involve more than just your nonprofit asking potential donors for money. The goal is to have the energy surrounding your campaign continue to spread by giving your supporters a voice, or face, or a key role in bringing the message of your promotion to life.

Stay focused 

Though there will be lots of energy and excitement around every part of the campaign for a short period of time, stay focused! Ensure your messaging across social media, the website, emails, and offline content all relate to the campaign.

Answer these questions to maintain consistency in messaging:

  • What change in the organization will these funds make?
  • Who's lives will be touched? (powerful testimonies and photos here are great)
  • Have you met the intermittent campaign goals? (x-amount weekly, etc.)
  • What are the creative ways your supporters are doing to support you?

Following up

After the campaign, do not lose contact with your new supporters. Let everyone know the results of your campaign, whether the goal was achieved or not. Congratulate and thank everyone who participated. 

If you didn't hit your target, revisit the expectations next time. Look for weak spots that may have been missed.

This is also a perfect time to engage your supporters regularly and build on their loyalty as you share messaging on the organization's impact as a direct result of their donation.

Final thoughts and tips

  • Always thank your donors, irrespective of the amount they donated.
  • Offer recurring donations next to their one-time donation.

Reward supporters with free but quality stuff. Think creatively beyond the usual magnets, stickers, and t-shirts. "Tailor-made" gifts work best once you've done your research on your donors' needs.

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