4 Tips to Crush Your First Fundraising Campaign

6 min
first fundraising campaign
William Schmidt
Will Schmidt

When Miry Whitehill, founder and CEO of Miry’s List, wanted to create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign around the concept of Friendsgiving, she met with her CFO to discuss the possibility of using Classy to help.

Image of Miry Whitehill, Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

I knew that if we didn’t have an online fundraising platform for the Friendsgiving campaign, Miry’s List wasn’t going to make as much money as we needed to be successful.”

Miry Whitehill
Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

Without the right software it would be difficult to track newly created fundraising teams, dinner events, and donations to the campaign. But such an investment was an intimidating thought when their organization didn’t yet have any grants secured, or foundations writing them checks.

The two didn’t let their trepidation stop them. They decided to purchase Classy and work hard to ensure their first fundraising campaign was a homerun: they raised $33,512 in total.

To learn what made the campaign such a success and understand what key learnings other organizations might apply to their own work, we sat down with Miry and got the scoop.

Simple, Direct, and Beautiful

One of the main reasons Miry’s List chose Classy was that the product aligned well with their organizational philosophies.

Image of Miry Whitehill, Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

We wanted our fundraising software to be like Miry’s List: simple, direct, and beautiful.”

Miry Whitehill
Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

This was doubly important for Miry’s List since they’re a startup nonprofit. They didn’t want people to focus on the size of their staff, but rather the size of their impact.

“When people donate, you want them to feel like supporting your organization is a strong investment. We’re a small organization, but we have a huge footprint in our cause-sector and make a massive impact.”

The hero image block for the Friendsgiving campaign.

The page they created amplified their passion, the passion of their supporters, and helped make their first fundraising campaign on Classy a success. Below, we dig into some of the strategic tactics that Miry’s List used to engage their communities and crush their first fundraising campaign on Classy.

1. Present Solvable Problems to Your Supporters

Part of empowering your supporters is making sure your mission is crystal clear for them. For their Friendsgiving campaign, Miry knew that putting the refugee crisis front and center wasn’t going to help motivate people to fundraise and host events.

Image of Miry Whitehill, Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

As long as something is portrayed as larger than life—like a crisis—it’s not solvable. What activates people is taking apart that major issue and breaking it down into a million solvable problems.”

Miry Whitehill
Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

Instead of saying, “we’re solving the refugee crisis,” Miry instead focused on how they were helping the refugee families arriving in Los Angeles. Notice how she framed the description of the problem on the campaign page in the bold text below:

The about section on the Friendsgiving campaign.

If the goal for your campaign is attainable, it motivates your supporters to take action and succeed. Without a realistic goal, it can be difficult to encourage action because there’s no end in sight. Breaking a complicated issue down into smaller pieces can create tangible steps on the road to solving the bigger picture.

2. Prepare Your Fundraisers, Then Thank Them

For this campaign, Miry’s List had 40 different Friendsgiving events take place. To ensure their supporters were successful in activating their networks, fundraising, and hosting their events, Miry and her staff created various resources to help.

For example, they designed templated sign in sheets and food menus that anyone could download and fill out for their personal event. In addition to assisting their fundraisers, this helped Miry’s List maintain brand consistency across the various Friendsgiving events.

When the campaign was over, Miry made sure to send out thank you gifts to their supporters. Every person who hosted an event received an exclusive Miry’s List pin and anyone who donated was sent a special kabob recipe.

If you decide to create helpful resources and thank you gifts, consider keeping them in theme with your campaign and branding. This helps to preserve your brand and adds a personalized touch that delights supporters.

3. Offer Opportunities to Fundraise Year-Round

As this was their first fundraising campaign on Classy, the Friendsgiving campaign was similar to a soft launch, or a field test. It was a definite success as the campaign brought in a grand total of $33,512 in about one month.

However, this campaign was also successful in another way. Since the campaign’s close, Miry’s List received many questions around how to continue to get involved and donate other life events, such as birthdays.

Thus, the Friendsgiving campaign will now morph into an evergreen DIY fundraising campaign that empowers any member of the Miry’s List community to take action and donate their life events. It’s still in the works, but the DIY campaign will have a new name and aesthetic that isn’t seasonally restrictive like Friendsgiving.

Miry stresses the importance of thinking about fundraising in the long term. That is, she doesn’t want a lot of people only giving to them once. Instead, she wants a strong base of supporters that gives a lot year-round.

Image of Miry Whitehill, Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

I want people to feel like Miry’s List is theirs, because they’re investing in us with their support and donations.”

Miry Whitehill
Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

It’s always important to pay attention to requests from your community. This feedback can present golden fundraising opportunities that are sure to resonate.

4. Take Time to Delight

When the Friendsgiving campaign ended it was right around the start of Giving Tuesday. After fundraising for an entire month, Miry wanted to get creative about how they reached back out.

Image of Miry Whitehill, Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

We went around Los Angeles and gave 10 pins to 10 heroes who had supported us from day one. It was about turning the tables and giving back to the people who gave to us.”

Miry Whitehill
Founder and CEO of Miry’s List

PIN DROP: Giving Tuesday 2017

By popular demand! Here's our Giving Tuesday 2017 #pindrop adventure.So many heroes gave to us this year so we decided to give them something back in honor of #givingtuesday. We surprised 10 Miry's List heroes with special edition enamel pins to thank them for their exemplary and heroic service to our growing organization this year. Originally posted on Instagram Stories.Tagging our heroes: we are so blessed to have you by our side.Thank you to Andrea Miller of Go As If for designing our beautiful and timeless logo

Posted by Miry's List on Friday, January 5, 2018

 

The ten heroes highlighted were across all parts of the spectrum of fundraising levels and service. It wasn’t a hero pin for the top 10 donors or how much money they gave. It was based on how heroic they were for Miry’s List.

For example, one pin went to a woman who introduced Miry to the first refugee family that would spawn the entire future of the organization. Another pin went to a local thrift shop that donated towels, bedding, and storage bins for all the families.

When dealing with your own supporter base, remember that impact doesn’t always have to translate into dollars donated or amount fundraised. There’s a lot that goes into making a strong impact.

When it came to investing in fundraising software, Miry and her staff weren’t afraid to strike out boldly and try something new. Having confidence in yourself is important, but it’s also important you have confidence in your community of supporters who want to see your mission fulfilled.

It’s on you to empower these dedicated individuals to succeed in creating an impact for your organization, whether that’s dollars raised or doing something heroic. Take a page from Miry’s book and make sure you’re bringing creativity, hard work, and the right tools to every effort.


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