8 Surefire Ways to Run a Successful Fundraising Campaign

7 min
successful fundraising campaign
profile picture of Classy blog contributor Will Schmidt
Will Schmidt

When you’re planning a fundraising campaign for your nonprofit organization, it can feel like there are a million details to take care of. You need to write your campaign page copy, send resources to peer-to-peer fundraisers, segment email lists, collect your graphic assets, and so much more.

Free Download: The Anatomy of a Successful Fundraiser

While most fundraising campaigns are different from one another, there are common best practices you can use across different campaign types to set yourself up for success. Use the eight tips below to ensure your next one runs smoothly, engages supporters, and brings in revenue.

1. Soft Launch Your Campaign

A soft launch to a smaller group of dedicated supporters or past powerhouse fundraisers can help build campaign momentum before your official launch to the public and broad supporter base. People are more likely to donate to your campaign when you’ve already got some money raised, which makes getting traction from your early adopter audiences crucial. Not only that, soft launching your campaign ensures you can work out any bugs or errors, like typos or broken links, before you send it to everyone.

Send an email to your supporters and ask for their feedback. Would they change anything? Is the message clear? Does it excite them? If they’re peer-to-peer fundraisers, ask them to start a personal fundraising page and start reaching out to friends and family for donations. When the time comes to invite everyone to participate, the momentum generated in your soft launch will likely carry over into your hard launch and push you toward your goal faster.

2. Keep Your Brand Front and Center

Strong branding not only builds trust with your supporters, it also serves the much simpler purpose of confirming that your fundraising campaign is, in fact, yours. It can be confusing to potential donors if your nonprofit’s brand, logo, and colors aren’t unified with that of your new fundraising campaign. This is especially relevant as you market your campaign across various channels like email, social media, and direct mail solicitations.

There are plenty of ways to ensure your branding remains highly visible and unified across your channels. For example, you can create a special logo for your new campaign that’s different from your nonprofit’s logo, but uses the same colors. When added to your marketing outreach, or when people come across it organically, they’ll know for certain that it’s your campaign and nobody else’s.

3. Educate Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers

With a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign specifically, a lot of your nonprofit’s success depends on the success of your fundraisers. If 500 people create personal fundraising pages, but only 10 of them raise any money, you may not hit your overall goal. To make sure this doesn’t happen, send your fundraisers educational resources and tool kits that guide their efforts and drive them toward success.

Educational resources could be tip sheets that explain the best way for peer-to-peer fundraisers to activate their networks, starting with friends and family before branching out further to coworkers, old classmates, or fellow community members. You could also send them examples of past fundraisers who got creative with their personal fundraising pages and what steps they took to nail it.

Your toolkits should contain everything they might need to assemble a page that’s consistent with the bigger campaign: logos, fonts, colors, and pre-approved images. Try to anticipate what they might need to build their page, and then assemble it into one central place like Dropbox, Google Drive, or even on a physical flash drive. Last, make sure that all of your fundraising resources are readily accessible and available on your website.

4. Encourage Monthly Recurring Gifts

Recurring givers are five times more valuable to your nonprofit than one-time donors. On Classy specifically, 75% of recurring givers maintain their plan for six months and make an additional one-time gift within a year about 75% more often than one-time donors do. If you’re not asking supporters to upgrade their donation to a monthly gift, and asking them sooner rather than later, you could be leaving money on the table.

You can send email appeals that ask recipients to support your campaign by either making a one-time donation or signing up as a recurring giver. In your messaging, you can push to the monthly gift option with bold calls-to-action, exclusive incentives for monthly givers, and showcasing how much more of an impact a recurring gift makes versus a one-time donation.

5. Set Up a Matching Period

Matching gift periods can ignite excitement among your supporters, especially if you unveil the match during the mid-campaign lull. Often, matching gifts instill a sense of urgency in supporters to give right away instead of waiting to do it later. Alternatively, you can promote your matching gift period at the start of your campaign to drive excitement right out of the gates.

It can take time to secure a matching gift partner for your campaign, so don’t wait until the last minute. During the initial planning phases of your campaign, reach out to potential partners, sponsors, or major donors and ask if they would like to participate as your match provider. This way, when the time comes to let your audience know about the matching period, you’ve got dates set in stone, maximum amounts decided upon, and copy approved to promote on your email, website, and social media channels.

6. Link Donations with Impact

Apathy is your enemy: as long as donors believe their support won’t make any difference they likely won’t give. In order to break down this barrier, show how their gift carries over into the real-world. Remind that every gift, no matter how big or small, can help advance your mission and work.

Details about the impact of specific gift sizes can be included in your written appeals, like emails, but they can also be powerful concepts for visual calls-to-action. For example, Classy’s impact blocks bring together powerful photos with descriptive text to show how contributions help move your nonprofit closer to your goals:

Campaign page with impact blocks for impact transparency

You can even dedicate a section of your site home page to showcasing the impact made by your entire community of supporters, like Team Rubicon:

7. Create a Campaign Video

A study by Google found that 57% of people who watch a nonprofit’s video go on to make a donation. Without a doubt, video is an incredibly powerful tool that you can use to snare the attention of your audience, bring your cause to life for them, and make a powerful ask to donate, fundraise, or sign up as a monthly recurring giver.

Further, videos are versatile and can be used on almost any marketing channel, your campaign page itself, or in direct gift appeals. To find inspiration for your next great video, record footage of your team on the ground, feature stories about the impact you have on your beneficiaries, or interview supporters. Show people how they can get involved and the impact that will make on the world.

8. Celebrate Success

It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate milestones, creative ideas, or fundraising success if you want to keep your community focused and inspired to reach the next big goal. To help, consider setting smaller, incremental goals that you can celebrate together along the way: if people can only see overwhelming end-goal, they may give up before they even start. As you hit each goal, send milestone emails to everyone who helped get there.

Celebration also applies to your internal staff, board members, and partners. They work just as hard to ensure the design, launch, and wrap-up of fundraising campaigns goes off without a hitch, so don’t forget to highlight their involvement and thank them for their effort. Consider thanking them in-person with a small happy hour, or send a hand-written note.

If you want even more tips, insights, strategies, best practices, and real-world examples, make sure to download our guide below: The Anatomy of a Successful Fundraiser. And if you’ve got any other great tips to ensure a smooth, successful fundraising campaign be sure to share it in the comments below.


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