Have you ever launched an innovative, groundbreaking fundraising campaign only to see it fall flat on its face? Have you ever wondered why your digital activity doesn’t take off like others you have seen from similar organisations?
My husband and I moved into our house about two years ago. The house was in great condition and there wasn’t much that needed doing to it. The colour scheme wasn’t quite to our taste but it was fine….so we didn’t do much. Twelve months later, when I fell pregnant, I started looking at the house in a new light; knowing that I would be spending a lot more time at home, suddenly the purple “feature wall” in our dining room started to bug me.
Four weeks before my baby’s due date I’d had enough and decided that the purple wall had to go. I went to the local shop and grabbed a can of paint that looked more suitable and, that weekend, my parents-in-law came round for a day of painting, moving furniture and changing our light switches (which I’d also decided weren’t quite right). We had to get everything finished in a day. Every other day up to my due date was filled with various pregnancy-related expeditions and activities and my husband was trying to work as much as possible so that he could comfortably take two weeks off work when our little one arrived.
The day was mostly a success; we got our new feature wall painted, the furniture moved and the new light switches fitted. There were just a few things that weren’t quite perfect… the new paint colour wasn’t quite what I’d imagined, the light switches didn’t fit in the holes left by their predecessors and we were left with one “less than straight” paint line in the corner where my husband decided that it would be a good idea to paint freehand. Due to the freehand “experiment”, two contrasting colours of paint now wiggle together in a line of disorderliness that drives me mad whenever I look at it. Resultantly we are getting our entire dining room redecorated in a few weeks’ time. This time we are doing everything differently.
What have decorating and fundraising got in common? Well, having reflected on my decorating disaster I’ve realised that, whilst I’m never going to make it as a world-class interior designer, I could have greatly increased my chances of success if I had invested appropriate time in preparing for what I was about to do. An experienced interior designer will put together mood boards and test different paint colours on the wall before diving straight in. A professional decorator often spends more time preparing the walls than they do painting them. Similarly, if we are going to be successful in our fundraising we must do our research, try out different messaging with our supporters and put together a full communications plan before going live with the campaign.
It is so easy to think that we have got a strong idea and dive into action without planning every stage of our supporter journey…but that is a waste of a good idea….you risk ending up with an imperfect “wiggle” equivalent of a great campaign. One of the things that I particularly love about digital fundraising, as opposed to other methods, is that it is quick and easy to test what works and what doesn’t. By running simple tests, fundraisers can make data driven decisions rather than rushing into something because you have a great idea and you think that the current situation could be better. Next time you have a great idea, embrace the interior designer in you, don your metaphorical decorators’ cap and make sure that you test and plan every part of the campaign before any of it goes live. I guarantee that the time you invest in setting things up right will be worth it in the long run.