Once you settle on fundraising as one of the ways to raise money for your organization, don’t leave any room for failure. You really need the money that you’re asking for.
Therefore, it’s in your best interest to launch a highly effective fundraising campaign.
Putting together a half-baked campaign may only help you recover the money you used to run the campaign, without leaving you with enough profits to fund your club’s activities.
Therefore, aim to get it right from the beginning. While every fundraiser is unique, there are general best practices you can apply across the board. Here are the top 10 for your consideration:
1. Educate Yourself
Chances are low that you studied fundraising in school. And it’s easy to assume that you can easily find your way through. However, fundraising is a science and art that requires mastery, just like many other disciplines out there.
So, take time to educate yourself on the principles of fundraising. You can read books on this subject or use reliable online resources. You can also attend seminars and webinars to further fortify your fundraising skills.
As a starting point, you may want to check out Adrenaline Fundraising, which guides numerous teams across the globe on how exactly to go about raising money.
2. Go Digital
Understand the nature and behavior of the people you’re requesting money from. If you were to set up only donation jars for cash and checks, you’d surely miss out on lots of money.
More and more people are adopting electronic forms of payments. Carrying cash may soon be a thing of the past. For this reason, consider running a digital fundraising campaign.
Ensure that your organization has an active website that showcases to the public your activities. Then, dedicate one page to your current fundraising campaign. This page should clearly explain why you’re raising money.
Design it so professionally that even the least learned to find it easy to give donations. From your website, you can now branch out to other online platforms like social media pages and email.
3. Plan Your Campaign Around SMART Goals
The SMART acronym has almost become a cliché, but its importance can never be overemphasized. Your fundraising campaign goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
- Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish that which you wish to accomplish? Who’s involved in ensuring your organization achieves the goals? Where will you spend the money that you collect from donors? Clearly answer these questions, and you’re on your way to a successful fundraising campaign.
Measurable: State the exact amount of money you need to raise. This will give potential donors an idea of how much money to give. Leaving it open will leave them clueless as to what donation is reasonable.
- Achievable: Don’t set a fundraising goal that’s too difficult for you to achieve. Looking at the popularity of your organization, is it possible for your fundraising campaign to attract a million donors? Will you be able to raise millions of dollars? It’s wise to leave such figures to renowned international organizations.
- Realistic: So, you go out to the public stating that you intend to rid the world’s oceans of plastic pollution. That’s practically impossible. Instead, tell the potential donors that you want to clean up one or two beaches in your local town.
- Time-bound: Your fundraising campaign needs to come to a conclusion at some point. The shorter the time frame, the better. It’s non-professional to keep soliciting for funds year after year without the donors seeing what you’re doing. If you’re fundraising for medical bills, state that the operation needs to be done in 2 months’ time.
4. Create A Sense Of Urgency
To further emphasize the time-bound point above, create a sense of urgency for your fundraising campaign.
Do you receive those sales emails and SMS campaigns from eCommerce stores? You’re certainly no stranger to claims that such-and-such an offer will close in 24 hours or three days. Surprisingly, it works. You subconsciously find yourself ordering that pant or online course before the discount ends.
Apply the same principle to your fundraising campaign. Give the donors only one or two weeks to send their donations. If you extend the campaign past that, potential donors will give themselves more time to organize their finances.
And don’t be surprised if they never come back. That’s human nature. Make them give out their contributions as soon as they get wind of your fundraiser.
5. Target Those Who Care About What You Care About
Most people don’t give just for the sake of it. People give because they want to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Suppose you’re fundraising for a gospel musical band. Non-Christians may not buy the idea in the first place. After all, they don’t care about the gospel. It’d be very hard for them to give towards such a cause.
But if you target says gospel artists, pastors, evangelists, and the like, you’re more likely to get donations.
6. Create A Video For Your Campaign
Statistics have it that fundraising videos lead to more donations than written campaigns. Videos communicate more powerfully than written ads. They clearly show the plight of the organization and create compassion among the public.
Suppose you’re fundraising to support orphaned children through their education. Putting it in words only will leave lots of gaps in people’s minds. They may not see who these children are. They may not see the needs that you claim the children have, and so forth.
But filming the children as they walk long distances to school, probably in worn-out uniforms, will better communicate the need to give them better lives. Make it even more captivating by featuring some of the students you’ve already helped and how happy they are so far.
7. Cultivate Donor Loyalty
You may be tempted to always look for new donors whenever running a new fundraising campaign. That’s justifiable, no doubt. New donors will help fill funding gaps.
However, you should ask yourself, ‘What am I doing to retain the current donors?’
Note that your current donors have the potential to grow into major supporters and even brand ambassadors. Therefore, seek ways to deepen your investment in the current donors.
Think of sweet-talking them into monthly donations instead of one-off donations.
Regularly update them on your organization’s activities and how their previous donations helped you. Make sure they always know what you’re up to as an organization. When you launch your next fundraising campaign, it’ll be easier for them to chip in.
8. Boost Your Fundraiser With Mini-Campaigns
Emails, banners, and videos from your organization’s website and social media pages may not be enough to successfully convince the public to donate funds. In actual fact, some of the people you reach out to may not be fully conversant with your organization’s activities.
But if they get the donation requests from their friends, they’ll more likely contribute to show their support for their friends. This is what is popularly known as peer-to-peer efforts.
Design email, banners, and videos that members of your organization can send to their friends and families. Statistics have it that such efforts bring in about a third of all online donations.
9. Incentivize Your Donors
Everyone likes to be encouraged to keep doing what they’re doing. A simple word of thank you is most times enough. But you may want to show even more gratitude to your donors by going beyond a written thank you note.
- Offer gifts to donors according to the amount of money they contribute
- Give your donors free tours of your organization’s facility
- Give bonuses to staff members who significantly mobilize donors
- Officially recognize your leading donors on all your online platforms
Such strategies will cultivate a deeper relationship with your donors and make your fundraising campaign more exciting. After all, it doesn’t have to be that serious.
10. Soft Launch Your Campaign
What do you usually do when you come across an online video with only ten views so far, no comment, no like? Skip it?
What about a video that has already raked in a million views and has thousands of comments and likes? Watch it?
That’s human nature. Most people naturally tend to contribute once they see that many other people have already contributed. That’s why you may want to privately mobilize dedicated supporters into making donations before going public.
By the time the public gets wind of the campaign, you already have a considerable number of donors to positively influence the rest. That’s what’s meant by soft-launching your campaign.
The Bottom Line
Fundraising is a skill that requires mastery. There’s a reason why some fundraising campaigns are highly successful while others fail. It’s not a matter of luck. It’s about knowing how to approach potential donors.
The above-mentioned best practices are a great place to start but they’re in no way exhaustive. Once you implement these recommendations into your fundraising campaign, feel free to seek even more ways of instantaneously capturing the hearts and minds of the public and making them hit that donate button without any hesitation.