Any nonprofit organization dreams of having successful fundraising campaigns. Of course, managing a fundraising campaign can have a lot of parts and pieces. It can be a challenge to figure out how to manage them all while dealing with other day-to-day fundraising tasks.So, what is the key behind a successful fundraising campaign? A lot of planning and exceptional project management.
Whether the fundraising campaign has a $5,000 or a $5 million goal, or if it’s a seasonal campaign, what really matters is managing the whole process from start to finish, getting yourself organized and really strategically poised to execute the campaign.
Are you working on your year-end campaign or building up a new seasonal campaign?Let me walk you through some steps that you can follow for your organization, and be able to really plan a successful fundraising campaign!
Watch the video version of this blog post below or read on for all the details.
Step #1: A successful fundraising campaign Starts Early
There's no such thing as starting a campaign too early. The longer timeline you have to prepare and diffuse your campaign, the greater your chances are of raising more money.
I worked on one year in a campaign for several years that raised over $5 million in the month of December. And I can tell you that kind of result did not just magically happen because we started planning in November.
We started planning for this campaign in March of that same year. Yes, nine full months to plan for the campaign since there were so many pieces and parts involved in it.
The time needed for a successful fundraising campaign planning will depend on your organization’s size and goal. Nevertheless, I do encourage you to plan ahead of time and start rolling out your fundraising campaign with enough anticipation.
Some examples of fundraising and marketing assets you may use in your campaign include: direct emailing, radio ads, bus ads, mail drop, etc.
Step #2: Create a multichannel fundraising: Scale Up Your Efforts
The idea of sending out more than one letter or more than one email to scale up your fundraising efforts can seem a little daunting. And I know for a lot of people, they start to get nervous and wonder if this approach is going to turn donors off? Is it going to have adverse effects on your results? Those are all legitimate concerns.
However, asking more than once and in more than one place impacts organizations abilities to reach their goals or even exceed them in some occasions. In order to successfully run a fundraising campaign, you have to be persistent without being intrusive. I recommend creating a multichannel fundraising.
What is a multi-channel fundraising?
It is a strategy used by non-profits organizations to reach out to more donors through the use of multiple communication channels. In brief, to ask more than once and in different places.
Some important channels to consider for your campaign:
- Sending Emails
- Social Media Pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Online Advertisements
- Printed Direct Mail
- Phone calls and Text Messages
As an example of multichannel fundraising, let’s analyze the website and Instagram page of Mortgage Professionals Providing Hope and how they run a successful fundraising campaign.Within the MPPH website page, there is a video asking their potential donors to take action.
And MPPH also runs an Instagram page where they share posts promoting their fundraising campaigns and inviting donors to take part in their initiative.
Ready to use this strategy? I recommend reading this post created by Dave Martin.
Step #3: Identify your tactics and set a timeline
Once your organization has identified all the tactics and the course of action in order to reach your fundraising goals, it is essential to set a timeline for your fundraising campaign.
Create a Master Task List and identify all the tasks that need to be done, step by step, from the start date of the campaign until the last day when things wrap up. A free and very easy-to-use tool, that I recommend and use, is an Excel Spreadsheet.
Here’s an example of the chart that I created:
I like to spend plenty of time establishing all the tasks and considering all the steps through the full execution of the campaign. I go back through it, once or twice, to make sure that we've captured all the things that need to get done. Time management is a great tool for running a successful fundraising campaign.
Other project management tools that I recommend and like to use are Asana or Trello or any other collaborative digital tool that might be useful and preferred by your team.
Step #4: Start executing as soon as you can
Once you have created your Master Task List, you can begin executing the tasks on the list. Getting as much done ahead of time as possible is ideal.
Being able to write your direct mail letters in September. Awesome. Being able to write social media posts that need to get posted during your campaign. Get that done in October. Fantastic! All of those things that you can do ahead of time to prepare, leave you with space, to be flexible and to really adjust to what's happening in your campaign in real time once it goes live.
Because let’s be honest, once a fundraising campaign goes live in December (or anytime of year!), donations start coming in. Donors might be asking questions, you might have to do a special outreach. All kinds of things may need to happen.
Being able to get things done ahead of time leaves you the space to respond to those things and be flexible during your campaign. I promise you, having that extra time down the road, you will definitely be thanking your past self.
Pro Tip: Create a backup plan for your fundraising campaign in case you might have to implement it. But don’t worry, planning ahead of time will prepare you for any contingency
Step #5: Document your fundraising campaign plan to succeed
The best way to learn is by reflecting on experience. Documenting or writing an After Action Report, as I call it, is one of the things that I really enjoy doing for every kind of initiative I do, whether it's fundraising or communications.
Essentially, once a campaign is over, I like to take some time to review what happened, what worked, what didn't, and so on. Essentially, I want to capture what was the original plan we had for this campaign or the vision we had for it. And then what actually happened? What did we get around to doing? What didn't happen? what didn't go according to plan? All of those things.
After Action Report Checklist:
- 1 to 2 pages document as maximum
- Establish campaign objectives
- Establish fundraising goals
- Identify the successful tactics implemented (Key takeaways)
- Identify failed tactics and the reason behind it
- Analysis of results (Numerical Data)
By looking at lessons learned, things that really worked, things that didn't, trends in the campaign, all of the useful things that will make us a smarter fundraiser and to be successful in our next fundraising campaign.
Reminders for a successful fundraising campaign:
- Start planning your fundraising marketing campaign ahead of time.
- Identify all the steps to follow during the whole campaign process.
- Setting a timeline and deadlines helps you develop a well-structured fundraising campaign.
- Be present in more than one communication channel. Don’t be shy.
- Document the fundraising campaign plan and its outcomes.