24 June 2014

5 steps to developing a compelling fundraising campaign

by Amanda Smith

We live in challenging economic times. Everyone is having to tighten their belts, from corporate organisations to the general public. There is increasing competition and pressure to capture the public’s attention, not just from other charities but also from an increasing number of commercial brands behaving like charities (e.g. TOMs). So how do you make sure your fundraising campaign gains cut-through and motivates audiences to donate?

Here are 5 simple steps to help frame your fundraising campaign and maximise your results:

1. When developing a fundraising campaign, think like your audience

Don’t think from the organisation out – think from the general public in.

Think like your target audience and you’ll raise more money by creating a message that appeals to their interests, not just those of your organisation. Here are three simple tips for thinking more like your target audience:

 1. Talk to them.

You should be talking with your audience frequently. Survey them once a year to find out what interests them most. Engage with them on Facebook and Twitter. Ask them more about why they support your organisation. What they tell you will give you a good idea of which messages resonate the most with them. Use this to inform your fundraising campaigns.

2. Be informed by their online behaviour.

Find out which messages resonate best by monitoring which emails and web content generate the most interaction. If your audience is clicking on content and responding by taking action or donating, that message is engaging them.

3. Remember the iceberg metaphor.

Whilst every activity and programme you undertake is important, not all of them will help get money in. Your current and potential supporters are usually inspired and interested in only a small portion of the work your organisation actually does. Make that the focal point of your campaigns. What topic is at the top of the iceberg for your cause? Make sure you use that front and centre in your messaging.

2. Tell a story

Now that you know which messages are resonating most with your audience, tell them a story that helps make those messages come alive. Create an emotional connection and share stories that illustrate your impact within the community. If your reader or listener is not emotionally engaged in your story, you don’t have a story.

Personal connections and stories have a big effect on giving. If you’ve got them, share them.

Also tap into human psychology. People are conformists by nature, and we take cues about how to think and what to do from those around us. Social norms fuel entire industries. Would the fashion world be able to motivate us to buy a narrower tie or a longer skirt this year if we didn’t care what people think? A coordinated campaign can help supporters feel like they’re tapping into something bigger.

Count your community: Show how many people have taken action to create a sense of a growing community of like-minded people.

Use testimonials: Quotes from people talking about why they support you are powerful. Other people are often your best messengers.

3. Answer the “what & how” questions

Given the sheer scale of what needs to be achieved and the costs involved, people can often think that the little they could contribute would be a drop in the ocean and wouldn’t make an impact, resulting in them not giving at all.

Research has shown that the evidence of the impact donations make, along with a personal connection to a cause, is the biggest influence in giving to charity. Donors now want more evidence of the impact a charity is having on the communities they serve. It’s also important that they are told how their donation contributes to the charity’s on-going work.

Key questions to answer:

  • What are you campaigning for?
  • What makes you different from the other organisations?
  • What will my donation be spent on?
  • How will my donation make a difference?
  • How can I get involved?
  • How do I donate time and/or money?

Ensure you have a clear and concise call to action. Remember the act of giving is immediate. Give your supporters the opportunity to act here and now.

4.  Be credible

A case for giving must be credible. When an organisation is small and funding efforts are grassroots based — asking 1,000 people for donations of €10 — your communications can be less sophisticated. But if you want to target the big hitters and corporate sponsors for substantial donations and support, you have to demonstrate that you are reliable, credible and astute enough to trust.

Present yourself consistently. It is vital for charities to harness the power of brand and the growing number of communications channels to provide existing and potential supporters with tangible benefits of what you are achieving. A consistent approach maximises your organisation’s impact and makes the most of limited resources.

5. Make it channel appropriate

Now that you have framed your case for giving, be sure to compile these elements in the appropriate format for the different marketing channels. The following can provide you with a rough guide: –

1,000+ Words: Direct Mail Piece

Include all of the elements we’ve covered so far.

300 Words: Website article

Take your direct mail piece and apply some basic webpage rules. For Search Engine Optimisation, your article should be more than 300 words. The title of the article should contain the keyword for the campaign and be used throughout the article. For further search engine visibility, include sub-heading labels (h2 & h3) and add a meta description to the article and any images you use in it.

250 to 300 Words: Email Appeal

Include all of the elements above, but make them shorter and punchier. Remember: People don’t read emails – they skim them. Increase open-rates with a snappy subject line and improve click-through-rates with a simple and clear call to action in the email itself.

50 Words: Home Page Feature

Include a great photo, what for, how, why now and credibility graphics.

15 Words: Facebook Post

Include a great photo, what for, how, why now. Focus on getting your Facebook audience to take the next step with a clear call to action and/or close with a leading question to encourage discussion.

10 Words: Twitter Post

Include why now and what for. Your aim is to inspire your Twitter followers to share and click through or post a reply, so again consider the use of a question.

It is only by “making real” your organisation’s mission and results that you will be able to retain supporters as well as acquiring new ones.

At RichardsDee we understand the many and varied challenges faced by Not for Profits, both big and small. With specialist experience in this sector, we can help your organisation gain recognition in a crowded space, stay relevant with internal and external audiences and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. View our work in the not for profit sector to see how we could help you.