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Soft Launch: Your First Step to Launch a Successful Campaign

By Elizabeth Chung

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

At the beginning of your campaign, you will be taking some time to bring as many potential fundraisers into the fold as possible. But rather than fully publicizing your campaign from the get-go, you can increase your overall chances of success by splitting the beginning of your campaign into two phases: a soft launch and a hard launch.

In this post, we’ll cover how focusing on the soft launch can set you off on the right foot and establish the momentum necessary for running a successful fundraising campaign. We will take a deeper look at how you can successfully soft launch your campaign, why this recruitment step is valuable, and how you can make the absolute most of this period.

The Campaign Within Your Fundraising Campaign

At this point, you’re technically set to fully launch your campaign and start raising money. You’ve prepared your campaign collateral, designed your fundraising and donation pages, and created your campaign incentives. But before you open the campaign up to your wider community, make sure you’re poised for spreading the word and garnering significant initial support. Recruit your most dedicated supporters to start fundraising before convincing the public to join in on the action.

Strategic fundraisers that you know you can rely on allow you to build momentum and social proof for your campaign’s cause. People are naturally reluctant to join an effort they suspect might fail, but by demonstrating progress early on, you will encourage members of your wider audience to get involved and hop aboard your success story.

I Want “YOU”!

So who should you recruit during your soft launch? Reach out to your biggest advocates, including your most passionate volunteers, past power fundraisers, social media evangelists, and supporters you know are eager to fundraise. Your own board and staff members should also create fundraising pages and lead by example.

After you’ve compiled your all-star list, you’ll want to reach out to these supporters personally. While an individualized email might work, calling them or speaking to them face-to-face is an ideal way to ask them to get involved.

Remind the all-star supporter of how they have been involved in the past, and why their support was critical to your organization’s cause and existence.

You want to make your supporters feel special, so try framing your ask as an invitation into your campaign’s “inner circle.” Let them know they’re part of a handpicked group of ambassadors that will ensure your campaign’s success, and empower them to get involved by creating a fundraising page for them. These intentional, personal touches to your outreach will help maximize the number of supporters you bring into the fold.

The Soft Launch within the Soft Launch

Now that you have some dedicated supporters fundraising on the ground, you’ll naturally want them to be as successful as possible. Not only are they the ones raising money for your organization, but their early success directly impacts the level of progress you achieve during your soft launch. And the more momentum you build during this period, the more likely other supporters are to get involved in your campaign.

As it happens, the same principle applies to your supporters’ personal fundraising campaigns. It’s hardest to collect donations when they haven’t made any progress towards their goal. As they build progress, people become more likely to make donations. So in the same way you recruited your core supporters to build momentum, your fundraisers should start by contacting the people who are most likely to make a contribution to their campaign.

Before they send out their general email appeal, advise your fundraisers to send individual emails and calls to their closest friends and family members. This way, they can lock in those first few donations before driving more traffic to their page. To demonstrate their commitment to the cause, your fundraisers can even make the first donation to jumpstart their progress bar.

By helping your fundraisers implement this type of micro-soft launch, you can optimize their chances of fundraising success!

Make it a Learning Experience

In addition to building that initial progress, there’s another reason why a soft launch can be valuable for your campaign’s overall success: learn what’s working and what’s not. By asking a handful of trusty supporters to start fundraising, you now have a group of people who can offer you early feedback of their experience.

Follow up with your core supporters to discover what problems they face and identify the resources they need to succeed. That way, by the time you push your campaign to your larger audience, you will already know how to best support them and enable their fundraising success.

You can follow up with your soft launch advocates and volunteers by calling them, emailing them, or even sending out a survey. Ask what objections they faced when asking for donations, what educative resources they might need, and how they can be better supported by your organization or staff.

Don’t forget to ask what parts of the fundraising they enjoyed, too. Knowing what fundraisers appreciate, whether it’s open communication with your staff members or any tools you initially provided, will help you capitalize on these aspects for the rest of your current and future campaigns.

As you wind down your one or two-week soft launch, you’ll be ready to open up your campaign to the wider community. By building this initial momentum and learning from your early fundraisers’ feedback, you will set your campaign’s full launch up for success!

Image Credit: Jessica Bee

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