The Importance of Strategy

Posted Nov. 18, 2013 by Arnon Shafir

(Guest Post by Melissa Coyle)

The Importance of a Fundraising Strategy

Sometimes those of us who work in the non-profit world are so passionate about helping those in need that we neglect to spend enough time creating successful fundraising campaigns.

Precise planning, effective time management, a great marketing strategy, and an eye for detail go a long way to ensure your campaign stands out from the crowd. But in an unstable economic environment many of us have less disposable income to spend and Cutting donations to our charity of choice is often one of the first savings people make.


However, this doesn’t have to happen to you and your charity. give2gether has conducted extensive research into why people give to charities, what motivations ensure they continue to donate, and how a nonprofit can tap into this resource. Part of the services we provide includes a session which analyzes your specific data and provides you campaign specific advice. But until then, here is some best practices which remain relevant for any online marketing campaign. 

Never Stop Marketing

One of the biggest mistakes charities make during an economic downturn is slashing their marketing budget. A successful marketing campaign is an investment in your organization’s future. The key is to focus on core issues:  Do you know your donor demographics?  Can you target them more specifically with more targeted marketing?  Can you increase their giving or encourage them to include your charity in a giving circle or crowdfunding initiative?  Are your donations made up of direct debits or one off gifts? Do you receive most of your funding from individuals or businesses? What about their age?

By analyzing the demographic of your current donor base, and tailoring future marketing campaigns around it, your nonprofit will go a long way in safeguarding against future unknowns.

Outline Your Specific Goal

All fundraising campaigns need a compelling vision if they want to be successful. Our donors are moved by their emotions as well as our ability to deliver solutions.  Most charitable donors want to feel compelled to continue to give. A short and precise fundraising campaign can prove to be very useful here. It should succinctly outline the challenge and then your solution --  what you will do with their donation.

Make the Fullest Use of Technology

While it’s no longer ‘the wild west’ in terms of charities and their use of the internet, most charities are still not utilizing the potential of this World Wide West (WWW). A broadband connection is essential. Visit some of the price comparison websites and pick the right deal for your nonprofit. Some financial organizations claim that with the “ever increasing number of businesses and services moving their operations online, having access to a high speed broadband connection has become almost as essential as a phone line.”  In 2012 Bill Toliver, a marketing expert, called on charities to take "ownership of the internet." He stated that the Internet can become a "catalyst for change." Speaking at the international fundraising congress Toliver stated the internet is now "reaching adulthood." Indeed, despite the global recession of 2009, things are looking rosier than ever for those charities that make the fullest use of technology.

Personalize, Become a Great Story Teller

Where possible, always try and personalize stories. Donors want to know how their money is being spent. Donors appreciate transparency and accountability and increasingly want to know, for example, how $10 a month can save someone’s eyesight or how specifically $20 can feed a dog in a shelter for one month. In other words, the more you share about how you use the donors money, the more likely the donor will continue to support your charity again and again when you ask. Personalized stories can go a long way in making a donor feel good about themselves. It helps them to feel connected to the charity and means it is likely they will continue to give.


Good Things Come in Small Packages

Make sure to cut the big idea into tangible, achievable projects. Even the largest budget can be cut down into chunks of $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000. No matter how big is your vision, people want to feel that their contributions are both meaningful to the completion of the campaign and significant.


Put Your Money Where Your (Donor) Mouth Is

Commit to projects you are trying to raise money for by seeding it 20-25% before you launch your campaign publicly. By showing you believe in this project, others will gain trust that they aren't "the first" to donate to this cause.


Photo of a group of people standing in a circle in a field. In the background is a body of water.Conditional Campaigns: Take (Calculated) Risks

Similar to Kickstarter, make sure to announce at least one conditional campaign this year.

Through 1000s of hours of reserach and lab trials, conducted at the Experimental Lab at UC Berkeley provided eminent proof that donor participation and giving levels go up 3X once their risk is reduced.

The more you dare, the better your participation rates will be. Conditional (all or nothing) campaigns are a key to better, younger donor participation.




Next Post: What makes people give? - The surprising truth behind philanthropic motivation

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