3 min Read
November 2, 2011

12 ways you can make your campaign stronger

As a nonprofit fundraiser, this is my favorite time of year. While others make vacation plans, I work with my colleagues to devise exciting integrated fundraising campaigns for nonprofit organizations. Study after study shows how most nonprofits see their biggest influx of donations–especially those that come in via email/web/social media–during the last few months, if not days, of the year.

Fellow Big Duck strategist, Rachel Hope Allison, and I have focused on developing online fundraising strategies and campaigns for over ten years. With that experience in hand, along with previous training in direct mail and telemarketing programs for nonprofits, we’ve developed a handy list of twelve ingredients for successful multi-channel or integrated fundraising campaigns.

1. Identify and prioritize your goals.
Your primary goal is probably to raise money, but think about how your campaign might also help you build relationships with your supporters and grow your email list.

2. Find the biggest news in your space.
What’s happening in the world as it relates to your mission? Look for ways to hook your work into news that your donors and wider community may have heard about.

3. Connect it to your organization’s short-term goals.
What strategies or approaches does your organization take to make things happen? What are your current approaches to accomplish your mission?

4. Find the specific problem this news can help you solve.
It can help donors relate to your work if you can establish the need for their support. Even better if you can frame your work as the solution to the problem you are addressing.

5. Set an achievable goal for how you’ll solve it.
More than just explaining how you’ll solve the problem, determine a goal for what you want to accomplish so that donors can feel like they are having an impact on the solution.

6. Select the right channels to reach your audiences.
Take a moment to pause and think like one of your donors. Now think about where they go to get information about the issues you are working on. Do they open every email? ‘Like’ every Facebook status update? Visit your website every week to see what’s new?

7. Craft your calendar around deadlines.
Most year-end campaigns start around Thanksgiving and go through early January. Set up a calendar that allows your messages to tell a compelling, coordinated, and cohesive story.

8. Reflect your organization’s tone and style.
Have you identified your overall brand personality and applied it to your materials? Is your organization nurturing and supportive, or more aggressive and bold? Anchor your campaign in who you are.

9. Focus each message on one call to action.
The more simple and direct your ask–from giving to taking action–the more likely it is that someone will do it.

10. Tell the same story in all elements.
Remember what I said bout being consistent before? Just when things start feeling boring to you, your community will start to ‘get it’.

11. Report back to your audience on impact.
It shocks me how many campaigns I see that forget to say thank you at the end and let people know what happened. Even if people didn’t give, they like to feel part of the success. And your words of thanks may warm them up for the next time, not to mention make those who did give feel even better about it.

12. Analyze the results to inform the next campaign.
How did your campaign compare to the last one you did? How does it compare to other nonprofits? Take time to measure performance and response rates and jot out lessons learned to apply to the next campaign.

Here’s to a successful year-end fundraising season for all! And if you have some tips of your own, please share them here in the comments.