3 min Read
May 5, 2010

Four tips for integrated campaign success

The annual holiday fundraising appeal–often a simple letter with a stamp and a return envelope–is a staple in the nonprofit community. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

Last fall, Big Duck worked with Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization in the United States focused entirely on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (a rare but fatal genetic disorder), to create an integrated, multi-channel year-end campaign, using emails, Facebook messages, a YouTube video, text messages, web banners, and other online tools (along with a direct mail piece) to reinforce and amplify the campaign’s message.

My fellow Duck, Elizabeth Ricca, will share some insights about the campaign in a post later this week. For now, here’s a closer look at some of the elements of PPMD’s 2009 campaign, as well as some interesting ideas for nonprofit fundraisers on creating a successful integrated campaign, whether at year end or year-round.

1. Start with a strong concept. Before figuring out how many emails to send out and the timing of each message–or whether or not to add in a new channel like Twitter–we figured out the big idea we wanted the campaign to communicate. For PPMD’s the concept behind the entire campaign was “Always remember” — an idea that strikes an emotional chord with its donors.

2. Cut through the clutter. As the centerpiece of the campaign, we created a non-traditional greeting card, designed to stand out from the slew of coupons, letters, and catalogs that take over our mailboxes at home. The card unfolded accordion-style to reveal the following message: “Always remember…to hold…to hope…to fight…to give.” The final panel made the ask–“This holiday, give from the heart.”–and gave potential donors two ways to give: through a unique URL ( or using the enclosed reply envelope.

3. Use multiple messages to reinforce the big idea. Rather than send out just one or two emails, we wound up sending out six messages, starting around Thanksgiving and finishing up early in the new year.

Parent Project Muscular Dystophy’s non-traditional direct mail card

  • Message 1: Sent right before Thanksgiving, asking people to share what they are thankful for by posting a comment on the Executive Director’s blog and/or note on Facebook.
  • Message 2: Sent in early December, timed to arrive in sync with the mailed greeting card. The email message was designed to use the same creative and messaging as the greeting card, but it also included a special matching gift offer from a grandparent of a boy with Duchenne. The amount for the match was $15,000, reflecting both what the donor could give and what the community was likely to raise.
  • Message 3: Sent a week later, and added at the last minute when two other donors stepped forward with an offer to increase the match, jumping the total from $15,000 to $60,000.
  • Message 4: Sent in mid-December from the original donor behind the matching gift campaign, sharing his personal story and reasons for issuing the match, and thanking the other families who have joined him.
  • Message 5: Sent on December 30 as a “last chance” reminder to give. Maybe it was the appeal of the tax write-off, or simply the final nudge some donors needed, but this message generated the most revenue of the entire series.
  • Message 6: Sent in early January to thank the community (donors and non-donors alike) and share the results of the community’s online efforts to-date.

4. Dive into other channels to capture attention of the entire community. Not everyone in PPMD’s community is on their mailing or email lists (and those that are may or may not open the messages), so we turned other channels to support and promote the campaign. We created banners for PPMD’s main and community sites, posted a simple splash page pushing visitors to the donation form for the last two weeks of December, and encouraged PPMD to share campaign progress via Facebook. PPMD also sent out reminders and a fundraising ask to all those who had donated via SMS/text in previous campaigns. Finally, we created a video version of the direct mail appeal (greeting card) that featured a link to the donation page and was distributed through the PPMD’s YouTube channel and via Facebook and Twitter.

So there you have it–integrated fundraising strategy in four bullets. Has your organization come across any great techniques for driving donations online? Share in the comments.

Curious to know how PPMD’s community responded to the quadrupled matching gift challenge? Tune in tomorrow for part two…