If you are just about to plan a fundraiser for your non-profit organisation, then you might find that there are so many things to think about: how do you plan it, how do you find fundraisers, ways of advertising it, maintaining engagements and so on.
If anyone tells you it is easy or there are shortcuts, be very wary.
And remember that successful fundraising should embrace different forms (traditional grant making bodies, public sector tenders and service level agreements, social networking, corporates and individuals.)
So we can’t give you all the answers in a simple blog (it has taken years to learn what we now know), but we can give some pointers.
There is nothing worse than going of “half-cock”. You lose any credibility and can lose the opportunity to bid for money or engage potential sponsors. So do your homework and research the potential funding sources, what they will fund, when they will fund, and for how much.
A strong fundraising campaign is built around SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-limited) goals. In order to do this you need to be able to:
- Clearly articulate your specific monetary goal
- Use historical data to make sure your specific goal is measurable
- Decide and list the actions needed to meet that goal
- Be realistic – based on past performance and the giving background of your target givers
- Start early enough to raise the money required (many funding applications will take 4 – 9 months to reach fruition)
I’ll revisit some of these goals later in this blog.
- Know the “what” and the “why”
Imagine a situation where a funder is presented with 3 possible giving opportunities – yours and 23 others. Why should a donor give you money instead of another organisation? Why are you raising money? Why now? Why is it urgent? Why should I care?
- Understand the donor ecosystem
People want to give. The number of funders who tell me they love the organisation I am working with and they want to support it but………… We need stories (Case studies etc.) to further cement this need/desire.
People hear and respond to campaigns differently. It is important to create connections and tug on the heartstrings or offer concise proof of effectiveness.
That might also include using events and other methods to get people onside. Some folks love a great night out for a worthy cause, and that can be just as effective as a series of begging letters.
- Make the ask
All the planning in the world falls short if you don’t ask. Develop a template you can use again and again and copy and paste as required.
- Develop materials
There is a need for as much supporting materials and evidence as possible, including a briefing paper, a call to action, videos, case studies, etc.
- Multi-channel campaign (coordinated)
Combine website content, social media, traditional media like (radio, TV, leaflets) and emails – to reach as wide an audience as possible. Make sure that they are all coordinated and have the same message. Do not just post one Tweet or Facebook Post and think that is enough advertise it. Some of your followers may use Facebook, while others may be more likely to tweet – make sure you reach through all your channels.
Furthermore, ensure that the homepages of your channels and organisation feature the campaign.
- Sense of Urgency
Within reason, and bearing in mind that some capital appeals might be multi annula, make sure the campaign will not last for too long as it will lose its sense of urgency and momentum. If the campaign has an air of urgency around it, it will be more likely to attract people to pay attention and act.
- Send a clear message
The title or aim of the campaign should not be a long complicated story as to what you are campaigning for. Find a few words to describe what the campaign is about by looking for the cause and effect. Tell a story too. People empathise more if the campaign will have a personal message, and not just a generic one. What is your story? What are you working to achieve? Make sure that you express these in the message.
- Set goals
Clear, realistic goals and not goals that are too high to achieve. Make sure your goal is specific, not just “eliminate unemployment in Glasgow” but “work with 200 individuals in areas of deprivation in Glasgow and support them into employment through a vocational programme that gives them skills and helps them gain employment”. Specific targets will make supporters more likely to donate.
- Receive donations in a few clicks
Where you are using crowdfunding or individual giving from supporters over the internet, make sure it is simple and obvious. People will be driven away if they decide to donate, but the process is long and complicated. Make sure the donation process is easy and very quick, mobile-friendly. You can even embed a “donate” button on your website, email, videos or a direct link on a leaflet that will take your supporters straight to the donation page. From then on, make sure it is quick and easy. Additional fields such as surveys or personal information could be collected at the end of the donation and not before *but remember the spectre of GDPR!).
An extra tip would be to make sure that your donation page is customised with the specific logo and branded to your organisation. People will be more attracted by a branded online donation page rather than a generic donation page.
And don’t confuse people. Those that know you will be more happy to give through a donate page on your website than through being driven to a crowdfunding website (but both can have their place).
- Attract through visual representation
It is much easier to comprehend and emphasise with a message if it is expressed through visual storytelling. Make sure to tell the story of your campaign through visual representation: videos, pictures etc. (and it doesn’t have to be too expensive). People will be more likely to empathise with the story and make a contribution if they will see, for example, stories of the people your campaign seeks to help.
You can also link donations with their relevant impact, for example make a visual representation of what difference a £10, £50, £250 donation will make to your campaign: will it support one individual, will it save 5 trees?
- Make it “sexy”/Do not be boring
Make sure that your campaign will have an extra element that will differentiate you from the other campaigners. Find a clever gimmick that could make your campaign different and unique if possible/suitable.
- Engage with those who donate
The supporter must feel that they are engaged in the campaign and their contribution will make a difference. Do not just ask the supporters for money, but find different ways to engage with them. This might be volunteering, or other forms of long-term engagement.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- are these funds making a difference?
- what impact will the funds have?
- how much have we raised and how much more is needed to reach the goal?
- have you met your goals so far?
- what are your supporters doing to help you in the campaign?
By always asking and answering these questions through the campaign, you will make sure you are focused.
- Do not end abruptly
Make sure to let everyone know how the campaign went, what goals were met. Analyse your progress. How did the campaign go? How much have your raised and what was the return on investment? In order to improve for the next campaign, you should know the results of your fundraising activities. Try and see patterns – what made people donate more? What type of advertisement worked best and how did different people respond to your campaign? Knowing this information before you embark on subsequent fundraising campaigns will ensure that you learn from your mistakes, and even if you did perfectly in this one, then the next one will be even better!!
- Say “thank you”
Thank everyone and continue to be in touch with the supporters. This might allow you to build up your supporter base for the future. You will likely need it!