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How Internal Fundraising Can Save Your Campaign

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Published January 3, 2017 Reading Time: 4 minutes

You’ve designed an engaging, creative fundraising campaign, and now the only thing left to do is kick it off. Before you launch publicly, though, it can be helpful to first set up a soft launch to drum up some internal fundraising activity.

While external cause evangelists are a great group for a soft launch, don’t ignore the people inside your organization. Your nonprofit staff has tremendous power to give your campaign a push towards its ultimate goal.

Leveraging internal fundraising participation for your fundraising campaign can require a skillful touch. Here are a few tips to help you build a strategic plan that will activate your nonprofit staff as power-house fundraisers.

Get Everyone on the Same Page

It’s always a good idea to get your fundraising cohort on the same page before you kick off a campaign. This is equally true when you want your internal staff to participate.

One of the strongest first steps you can take is to create a creative brief that gets all people, departments, and parties on the same page. A good creative brief:

  • Dictates which department, or individual, is responsible for what elements of the fundraising campaign
  • Spells out the details and specific steps needed to achieve the fundraising goal
  • Identifies any gaps in your overall marketing or communications strategy and how to close them before the kickoff of the campaign

Expectations are important to clearly define because when they are communicated, they lower the barrier to entry for anyone in your organization who participates in the campaign. Use these expectations as a common ground across departments and a point of reference throughout the campaign.

Build a Top Down Approach

It’s crucial for your board to get involved in your fundraising campaign. Look at your creative brief as a portal for them to easily jump in. Getting the board behind your fundraising campaign fosters internal fundraising because they:

  • Commit their time and effort into supporting your campaign
  • Bring a sense of credibility and trust to the campaign
  • Give the green or red light for the campaign kickoff
  • Set the tone for the rest of the organization

If the fundraising directive comes from the top down, internal staff feel more compelled to participate in a fundraising campaign.

Michelle Hansen

Account Manager, Classy

When your board participates in your campaign, you can focus on the next step. You need to select someone from the ranks of your staff that can champion the cause to the rest of your employees effectively.

Choose an Internal Fundraising Champion

Imagine your internal fundraising campaign as a flow chart, where your board creates a major source of inspiration for your staff. The next tier down would be your champion, who channels that inspiration to the rest of your organization.

Find a champion internally and have them be your proof of concept. By them demonstrating your good work and the success they’ve had, it encourages everyone else to repeat that success.

Justin Prugh

Account Manager, Classy

Identifying the right candidate isn’t as difficult as you might think. According to CDS Funds, one way to find the right fit is to look for an individual who:

  • Is widely respected amongst fellow employees
  • Has a lot of energy
  • Has a positive attitude
  • Is a creative, outside the box thinker
  • Is passionate about the organization and fundraising goal

Also, find somebody who isn’t a member of senior management to be your champion. You want to avoid the conflict of supervisors soliciting subordinates, so stay away from it from the get go.

Once you’ve selected a cause champion, you’re ready to set up your internal, soft launch. A good first task for your champion is to make it as easy as possible for staff to get on board.

Lower Barriers That Prevent Giving

The first step to get people involved in your fundraising campaign is to publicize it. Bluntly speaking, your staff can’t give to a campaign if they don’t know it’s taking place. Make the campaign a big deal around the office to fuel excitement.

Communicate the main message of your creative brief with your staff to ensure they know what the campaign is all about. Feel free to let everyone know that the board is fully in support of what you’re doing as well to add another layer of trust and credibility.

Your champion can help you inform your staff as well. Give them creative ideas that they can use to generate excitement around the campaign.

They can:

  • Throw a kickoff party
  • Send regular, fun emails to staff
  • Create artistic posters and put them around the office
Pro Tip
Have a public facing goal alongside an unpublished, internal goal that’s not communicated to the public. For example, your public goal could be $10,000 and your internal goal could be $15,000. If you exceed your public goal, publish your internal goal. This keeps fundraisers motivated and works as a great, late campaign reveal to draw in more support.

Central to your communication and publicity of the campaign are recognition and incentives. Once your staff knows about your campaign, use incentives to boost their involvement.

Incentivize and Recognize

Recognizing and incentivizing your employees’ effort is important. Promote their accomplishments internally and you’ll see it plays a big factor in further encouraging action from your staff.

Michelle Hansen

Account Manager, Classy

Hansen recommends providing an incentive for individuals, but also attaching one to the collective goal of your campaign. For a top fundraising individual, the incentive might be an extra day of PTO. For the entire nonprofit, it could be a company-wide happy hour.

This is another opportunity for your champion to exercise their creativity and passion. Bring them in on the incentive discussion, and let them promote the prizes as they best see fit.

Also, remember that there are many forms of recognition. Just as important as any prize is a personalized and well-thought out thank you. Sometimes people enjoy being called out during a company meeting or a company-wide email. Others prefer to be thanked privately.

Either way, the sentiment is the same. Thank them for committing to your cause and working to achieve it.

Internal fundraising participation from your organization staff might not seem like the most important aspect of fundraising. However, it has the potential to encourage more participation from external fundraisers.

Active and lively campaigns get more activity—it’s a fact of the fundraising world. A well planned soft launch is a great way to build early momentum and get your employees actively bringing in donations. Encourage them to fundraise with you and witness firsthand how strong, internal buy in positively affects your campaign.

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