8 Surefire Ways to Run a Successful Fundraising Campaign
When you’re planning a fundraising campaign for your nonprofit organization, it can feel like there are a million details to take care of. Understanding that feeling and doing our best to help you avoid it, we spun up a simple blueprint outlining how to start a fundraiser.
Whether you’re a fundraising professional or asking yourself “what is fundraising,” Classy can help you create your fundraising plan.
What Is Fundraising?
Fundraising is the process of soliciting voluntary donations and funds from individuals or businesses to help your organization grow. However, fundraising goes beyond just collecting funds. It helps organizations spread awareness about their cause, build relationships, garner support, and attract potential new donors.
While most nonprofit fundraising campaigns are different from one another, there are common best practices you can use across all campaign types to set yourself up for success. Use the eight tips below to ensure your next fundraising effort runs smoothly, engages more supporters, and helps move your charitable organization forward.
1. Start With a Strategic Soft Launch of Your Campaign
Planning a soft launch to a small group of dedicated supporters or past powerhouse fundraisers is a fundraising tactic that can help build campaign momentum before your official launch to the public.
Your donor base is are more likely to donate to your fundraiser once you’ve started moving toward your fundraising goal, which makes it crucial to tap on your early adopter audiences to generate initial traction. Not only that, soft-launching your campaign ensures you can work out any bugs or errors, like typos or broken links on your donation form, before you send it to your larger prospective donor community.
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 begin 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.
2. Keep Your Brand Front and Center
Strong branding helps build trust with supporters and 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 you add your logo 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. Make Giving Easy With Flexible Payment Options
Data in our State of Modern Philanthropy report reaffirms that the payments you offer can make or break a donor’s decision to complete their planned giving.
When donors have options, we found that gift sizes on the Classy platform increase. Our data revealed that the average one-time gift made via ACH is nearly 2X larger than a one-time gift made through a credit card. This emphasizes the value of a frictionless donor experience and serves as a reminder to understand your donors’ preferences to ensure all expectations are met. Classy Pay supports digital wallets, PayPal, Venmo, ACH, and credit card processing for nonprofits.
4. Encourage Recurring Gifts
Our Recurring Donor Sentiment Report found that 47% of recurring donors feel like their ongoing donation is making more of an impact than a one-time gift, and 38% feel more connected to a nonprofit when they give regularly.
Recurring donors are nine times more valuable to your nonprofit than one-time donors, making donor retention an important part of reaching your fundraising goal. In fact, our Recurring Donor Sentiment Report found that 84% of recurring donors take additional action on top of their recurring donation, including volunteering, making additional one-time gifts, attending an event, and more.
If you’re not asking supporters to upgrade to recurring donations, you could be leaving money on the table. Send email appeals that ask recipients to support your campaign and long-term mission by committing to a recurring gift at the frequency of their choice.
In your messaging, use bold calls to action, highlight exclusive incentives, and showcase how much more of an impact a recurring gift makes versus a one-time donation.
5. Drive Engagement Through Gift Matching
Inviting donors to participate in matching gift periods is a solid strategy that can boost your fundraising effort, especially if you unveil the match during a mid-campaign lull. Often, matching gifts instill a sense of urgency in supporters to give right away.
Alternatively, you can promote your matching gift period at the start of your campaign to spark fundraising activity right out of the gate.
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, corporate 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 locked down, maximum funds decided upon, and copy approved to promote on your email, website, and social media channels.
6. Fuel Donations With a Tie to Impact
Apathy is the enemy of charitable giving. If donors don’t believe their support will make a difference, they likely won’t give. In order to break down that barrier, clearly communicate how each donation carries over into tangible solutions. No matter how big or small, every contribution can help advance your mission.
Break down the impact of each specific gift size in your written appeals or through visual calls to action on your campaign page. 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:
You can even dedicate a section of your site home page to showcasing the impact made by your entire community, like Team Rubicon:
7. Use Video to Inspire Action
Studies show that if a person hears information without seeing any accompanying visual elements, they only remember about 10% of it after three days. However, if it’s paired with a photo or video, they’ll recall about 65% of the information (1).
Without a doubt, video is an incredibly powerful tool to snare your audience’s attention, bring your cause to life, and make a compelling ask to donate, fundraise, or sign up as a recurring donor.
Further, nonprofit fundraising videos are versatile and you can use them on almost any marketing channel, your campaign page itself, or in direct gift appeals. To make 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. Say Thank You and Celebrate Donors’ Success
It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate milestones, creative ideas, or fundraising success if you want to keep your donor base focused and inspired to reach the next big goal.
Consider setting smaller, incremental goals that you can celebrate together along the way. When the campaign goal feels too overwhelming, potential donors may give up before they even start. This is especially important for peer-to-peer fundraisers.
To avoid losing their attention before they hit their goal, send milestone emails to emphasize their impact and encourage them to keep going.
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 go 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.
Nail Your Next Fundraising Campaign
For more ways to attract, engage, and convert donors across all online fundraising campaign types, download our Fundraising Campaign Checklists. We break down what to include in your crowdfunding campaign, peer-to-peer, and event fundraising campaigns, plus pro tips and best practices to help elevate your campaign’s visual appeal.
- “Brain Rule Rundown,” Brain Rules, last accessed April 20, 2023, http://brainrules.net/vision/.
Checklists for Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, and Event Fundraising Campaigns
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