Elizabeth Chung

How to Repeat Online Fundraising Success in 5 Steps

Planning a new campaign can sometimes feel like you’re jumping into a black hole and hoping for the best. Every fundraising campaign is unique, whether by theme, time of year, or target audience, so it can be easy to feel like each campaign’s potential for success stands alone.

But call us the bearer of good news, because there is a way you can methodize those fundraising wins and achieve long-term campaign success.

The secret sauce is in the prep work. No matter your organization’s size, mission, or level of funding, systemizing how you think about, approach and prepare for your campaigns can improve the success rate of your nonprofit’s future online fundraising campaigns.

These 5 steps will help you repeat successful fundraising campaigns time and time again.

1. All Great Things Start Small

Let’s dispel the myth of overnight success. In reality, truly great outcomes are the buildup of many smaller stepping-stones, and your campaigns are no exception. Rather than expecting to whip up million dollar-raising campaigns from day one to day two, break up your campaigns into smaller sections; creating a timeline of individual milestones will make it much easier to accomplish your overall campaign goals.

For instance, ask yourself:

  • By when can I get X number of supporters to create fundraising pages?
  • By when can I get X number of inactive fundraisers to become active fundraisers?
  • At what stage should I shift my focus from recruiting potential supporters to encouraging power fundraisers?
  • When do I roll out additional incentives or matching campaigns to excite supporters?

Benchmarking smaller sections will help to clarify, execute, and feed these milestones into your campaign’s total success.

Download a free peer-to-peer fundraising guide

2. Coach Your Fundraisers (It’s a Team Effort)

Let’s take a look at one organization’s unique fundraising experiment:

During one of their campaigns, Team Rubicon split their fundraisers into two groups: one that received a fundraising tips sheet, and one that didn’t. The group that received the tips sheet raised over three times the amount of the group that didn’t receive the guide.

Download a free fundraising tips packet

Herein lies a vital piece to cracking the code for repeated success: educating your fundraisers. Because a peer-to-peer campaign leverages your network’s network, your fundraisers are the ones actually asking for donations, so you want them to be as equipped and empowered as possible. Commit to building strong relationships with them and maximizing their individual successes.

To coach and empower your fundraisers, you can:

  • Provide sample social media messages
  • Provide sample emails and guidance on planning an email series
  • Write a guide on fundraising best practices
  • Host a weekly Tweet Chat or Google hangout for a fundraising Q&A
  • Offer design resources for personal fundraising pages

Take, for example, some of these great resources Liberty in North Korea made for their supporters.

3. Think Long-Term Return

Given the cyclical nature of nonprofit fundraising, campaigns don’t happen in isolation. By nature, improving your campaign success rate implies an ongoing course of action, so it’s important to look at how each campaign connects to the other in your yearly fundraising cycle. Measure each campaign’s return, not just financially, but also in terms of:

  • Number of new donors you acquired
  • The increased involvement of current community members
  • Number of new people you reached (even if they didn’t give or fundraise)

It’s important to immediately provide these supporters with other ways to get involved after each campaign. Say thank-you, share the impact they helped make possible, and inform them of other fundraising opportunities they can act on independently, like pledging a birthday, becoming a volunteer, or registering for the next event. This will create an empowered, year-round fundraising community that remains engaged outside of your own campaigns, diversifies and evens out your revenue, and brings in new donors to continuously achieve campaign success!

4. Delight the Heck Out of Your Donors

If you want to remotely increase your organization’s success rate, jot this one down. Memorize it. Internalize it. At any point, all the new donors you acquire throughout your campaigns can decide whether to leave your organization or continue their support. Thankfully, you can influence their choice by delighting them.

By finding ways to inspire and please your donors in a customized, humanistic manner, you can create positive emotional connections that will strengthen loyalty and support. Veer away from making each message an ask, and instead throw in personalized, delightful surprises that exceed your donors’ expectations and set your organization apart.

Whether you deliver delight through a creative email campaign, personalized Vine shout-out, or any other delivery channel, infusing a lighthearted twist to your communications can go a long way in making your donors and fundraisers feel good about their involvement with your organization and stay committed to your cause.

5. Commit, not just to Success, but to Growth

If you look at the extended track records of successful people, you may notice a pattern: they’re open to new ideas, opinions, and perspectives different from their own. That being said, if your organization wants to graduate from shortsighted success to growth and scale, it would serve you well to keep innovating and add variety to the table.

For every few solid, surefire campaigns you have per year, try making one the experiment to learn how you can be more successful, more engaging and more meaningful. If you have a few solid campaigns you do every year, look at what you’re NOT doing to catch an experimental campaign idea. Testing different activities or themes will appeal to diverse groups of people, and you may uncover dormant support groups you’ve previously failed to notice. Remember that even if the campaign looks like a bust, you’re moving the ball forward and contributing to your organization’s learning and long-term success.

You don’t have to pigeonhole your successes as a one-time fluke. Rather, take a step back and methodize the way you approach and prepare for your campaigns. By establishing core principles by which you frame and execute your campaigns, you’ll understand how to recreate these successes for the future and build a sustainable platform for growth.

Build a Strong Online Presence

pocket guide to online fundraising

Image Credit: Alden Jewell

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