Your Mission’s What Matters: Avoiding Gimmicks and Distractions in Fundraising (With Examples!)

May 30, 2022
5 minutes

Let us set the scene: Spring has sprung, the grass is green, the air is sweet with jasmine. Your garden is overflowing with flowers, and your inbox is overflowing with spring fundraising campaigns. ...which is cool, but also makes you think, “So, because the weather’s slightly more temperate, I should donate to 27 different causes?”

While it’s tempting to use any month and every holiday as an excuse for a new fundraising campaign, it can also come off as kinda sorta gimmicky. And as a nonprofit, working day in and day out to support a worthy cause, that’s never what you want. Instead, let’s take a step back and refocus on what matters: your mission.

We’ll walk through how you can use a season or a holiday as inspiration for your campaign without making it the focal point of your messaging. This will ensure that when your supporters receive that next spring fundraising email, they’re reminded of why your work matters—and why right now is a perfect time to give. In fact, they’ll probably exclaim, “This slightly more temperate weather gives me the energy to focus on how every child deserves access to healthful food! Let me grab my wallet.”

Focus on Your Mission

Your mission is your true north; without it, you’re lost in the woods. (Maybe we’re quoting Frozen 2. And maybe it’s because Jonathan Groff’s performance of “Lost in the Woods” doesn’t get the accolades it deserves.) Anyway! Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with creative fundraising ideas or clever language. We get it—and we love having a reason to celebrate or host a themed dinner.

But at the end of the day, just like you need to set boundaries to focus your energy and resources, you need to focus your fundraising efforts on your organization’s purpose. All of your messaging should, ultimately, speak to your mission—to the goals you want to achieve and the impact you want to have. That’s what inspires donors. That’s what sparks loyalty and generosity. That’s what makes people rally behind you, regardless of the day of the week.

Let the Season Inspire You

So, what do these mission-focused campaigns look like? Well, rather than sending an email that declares, “It’s our spring fundraising campaign!”, you would remind your supporters that spring has sprung, and it’s time to leap into action by donating to fight poverty.

Let’s do another one. It’s not your “annual holiday gift drive.” It’s the season for giving back, and your nonprofit is giving back to animals in need all year long by finding them forever homes.

All we’re doing here is keeping the focus on our efforts and letting the season or holiday inspire our messaging. That way, your mission is always at the forefront, reminding you and your supporters why you do what you do.

Other Times to Remember Your Mission

In addition to avoiding seasonal gimmicks in your messaging, there are other times when we tend to let our missions fall by the wayside. Here are a few areas to keep an eye on:

  • Speaking about unrelated causes or issues. While advocacy is wonderful, and it’s important to use your platform as a nonprofit to support other causes, this shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence.
  • Appealing to different donor segments. Segmenting is a must when it comes to your donor data! But be careful about making too many assumptions about what millennials want versus boomers. In the end, most donors just want to support a cause they care about. So, again, it’s all about that mission—not how cleverly you reference TikTok for your Gen Z donor base.
  • Addressing crises.  As we learned during COVID (and as we continue to learn), crises create challenges and opportunities. Don’t let a crisis derail your sense of purpose—reassess, adapt, and keep going.

Examples Galore

We’ve talked the talk, and now it’s time to check out some nonprofit organizations that are walking the walk.

Whole Women’s Health Alliance: Spring

Whole Women’s Health Alliance keeps the focus on how spring relates to their cause, and how it’s a prime time for supporters to get involved and donate “to plant new seeds.”

Amoud Relief & Development: Ramadan

Ramadan is a month of increased introspection and generosity, as well as fasting from sun up to sun down. Amoud Relief & Development’s “Feed the Fasting” campaign reminds supporters that many don’t know when their fast will end—but donors can change that and ensure everyone looks forward to iftar (the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast).

Oregon Wild: Spring Estate Planning

Oregon Wild connects spring to their mission and to estate planning in a conversational, upbeat email.

Trans Lifeline: Winter Holidays

Trans Lifeline clearly and eloquently connects their “holiday fundraising” to an increased need in the community. Sure, there’s a little hyperlink typo in there, but it doesn’t diminish the impact of their message (and far be it from us to throw stones—pobody's nerfect).

Staying Mission-Focused: FAQs

What does a great nonprofit mission statement look like?

A strong mission statement details what your nonprofit does and why you exist. Above all else, a great mission statement should be useful. It should also be unambiguous, succinct, and inspiring.

Why do you need a mission?

It guides your nonprofit’s actions across a range of situations and contexts, shares your purpose with stakeholders, and motivates your people.

What mistakes should nonprofits look out for in terms of their mission?

Don’t take on too much. While you want to be open to new opportunities for growth, you also want to remain focused. Keep it short and clear. And be sure to review your mission statement regularly—it should evolve along with the organization.

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