If you’ve ever run a fundraising campaign, you’ve probably noticed that the beginning and end of the campaign generally see more activity than the middle. Popular crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter, have documented this typical mid-campaign lull over the years:
At first glance this drop in activity might look ominous, but quite the opposite is true. If you expect the lull, you can plan accordingly to mitigate it and, in some cases, use it to your advantage. Here are five ways to make the most of a mid-campaign lull and power through it.
1. Take Advantage of a Soft Launch
Before you launch your campaign publicly at full force, roll out a soft launch first. This is a window of around 1 to 2 weeks where you introduce your campaign to your most dedicated supporters. These could include:
- Past power fundraisers
- Internal staff members
- Board members
- Passionate volunteers
- Social media influencers
Regardless, the most important part of a soft launch is that you engage the supporters you know are ready and willing to donate and fundraise. This cohort will start filling up your progress bar so that when you eventually roll your campaign out to the broad-sweeping public, new supporters will see that it’s on its way to success and not hovering around the zero-dollar mark.
A soft launch is a strong tactic that can sustain fundraising momentum throughout your entire campaign. Keep the fire hot from day one.
Some other strategies you might consider to build anticipation for your campaign are:
- Post a countdown to launch on your social media
- Upload photos and remind your broad community of supporters that the campaign is on the horizon
- Write stories that inform your supporters about why you’re fundraising and what you hope to accomplish
- Ask your supporters to share word about the campaign launch across their networks
Use the relaxed setting of a soft launch to your advantage. Learn what supporters enjoy, what elements of your campaign you can strengthen, and how you can help donors succeed.
Eventually, when your campaign hard launches, you’ll be set up for success and confident that a mid-campaign lull won’t slow you down as much.
2. Leverage the Mid-Campaign Lull
If you get to 20 to 30 percent in your first five days, you’ve set yourself up well for the middle part of your campaign.
According to the Chuffed article, the drop in fundraising activity after your first five days provides an opportunity to accomplish three things during the following lull:
- Reach out to organizations for donations: Capitalize on the initial momentum of your campaign by showing it to other companies. The traction makes it easier to approach businesses or partners and ask for larger contributions.
- Get your story published: Research and reach out to journalists who might be interested in covering your campaign. The attention of reporters, TV outlets, or newspapers can reinvigorate current supporters while bringing new ones to your campaign.
- Reach out to influencers: Show influencers that you’ve already got traction and support, and ask them to share your campaign across their channels and networks. Make sure you express how they’re related to your cause, why this will help them, and why their audience will be interested.
As you work through the mid-campaign lull, activities like these will show your audience you’re confident that you will meet your fundraising goal. This is essential because if you don’t believe in your goal, your supporters won’t either.
Aside from these big projects, foster enthusiasm by focusing on smaller projects as well. Something as simple as an update every few days shows your supporters that you’re invested in the long-term success of the campaign, while demonstrating you see them as investors in it as well.
3. Keep Your Supporters Up to Date
Your supporters need to know what’s happening in your campaign. If you fail to provide consistent updates, you risk losing their attention, passion, and donations. Aside from keeping your supporters informed, campaign updates also show that you’re paying close attention to your campaign and their efforts.
Your updates can include anything you think is important, motivating, or interesting. Get creative and think outside the box for updates that are fun and show a fresh side of your campaign:
- Publicly welcome new supporters to your fundraising community
- Announce and celebrate partners that make substantial donations
- Create and distribute emotional stories that embody your mission and goal
- Profile your team members for a behind-the-scenes look at your organization
- Spread photo and video content across your social media channels
Communications, like campaign updates, are essential to sustain momentum through a mid-campaign lull. And while blanketing your support base with updates is beneficial, don’t underestimate the power of targeted communications.
4. Strategic Communications Targeting
As you work through the mid-campaign lull, you’ll notice you have both active fundraisers (those who have raised at least a dollar) and inactive fundraisers (those who have raised zero dollars). It’s important that you strategically target your communications for each group separately. What applies to your active fundraisers most likely won’t apply to the inactive fundraisers.
For your active fundraisers:
- Thank them, publicly and privately, for working so hard with you to reach the fundraising goal
- Personalize the message to show that you’re aware of the contribution and impact they make
- Provide resources, tips, and tricks to recruit new donors
- Make use of Milestone Emails, which the Classy Peer-to-Peer campaign automatically sends when a fundraiser reaches a certain percentage of their goal
You can still make efforts to reinvigorate your inactive fundraisers:
- Cater to their initial inspiration behind joining the campaign with content and stories about your mission
- Give them ideas whom to start asking for gifts, like five friends or family members
- Build template emails for them to send to their network
- If they start to bring in funds, acknowledge their work and celebrate it within the larger fundraising community supporting your effort
Targeted communications can bring people back to your page regardless of how much or little they’ve already raised.
5. Incorporate Incentives
Incentives can also keep fundraising activity alive through the mid-campaign lull. If you’re offering a prize for the top fundraisers, for example, then you communicate that often and clearly.
And there’s no rule that says you can only offer one prize. Maybe you prefer to segment your campaign into two halves, with one incentive at the midway point and a second at the end.
Incentives can motivate your supporters to bring in as much funding as possible. They can also build in friendly competition, which fuels energy and excitement to fundraise for your cause.
Another influential prize is a matching gift period. In fact, match-funding donations is the most likely factor to encourage donors to give more.
Mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71 percent increase in the response rate and a 51 percent increase in the average donation amount—and that’s prior to receiving matching gift funds.
Through incentives or a matching gift period, the end goal remains the same: encourage more donations and move fill up that progress bar.
As the data shows, a mid-campaign lull is almost guaranteed. Don’t let the idea discourage your efforts, though. If you know it’s coming, you can prepare for it ahead of time with some creativity. Work with the mid-campaign lull instead of working against it.
With enough foresight and planning, your campaign has the potential to sustain donations throughout your entire campaign.