Have you ever been so focused on the details of something that you wound up missing the broader message?
We recently co-hosted a webinar with Hubspot on how to market a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign where this exact thing happened. We were so focused on the individual best practices that we were assembling that we didn’t immediately identify the broader theme. Once everything was put together and we took a step back, however, the main message emerged clearly.
So what was the distilled essence of all the fundraising best practices we’d put together?
To get the most out of your online fundraising campaigns, you need to believe that YOU are ultimately responsible for your own success.
Don’t Get Trapped in a Losing Mindset
The “responsibility statement” above might seem pretty unremarkable on the face of things, but it actually gets to the heart of a problem that many online fundraisers share. A lot of nonprofits fail to fully accept that it is their responsibility to drive the results of their online fundraising campaigns. They operate from a disempowered position that assumes external factors account for results. And this shouldn’t be all that surprising; the very structure of peer-to-peer fundraising tends to encourage this abdication of responsibility.
Just think about it, during a p2p fundraiser your supporters are the ones doing all of the actual fundraising. They setup the fundraising pages. They send emails to friends and family. They ask for donations through their social media accounts. In fact, it’s this very reliance upon supporters that helps make peer-to-peer so effective; but this same reliance can also encourage a counterproductive “set it and forget it” attitude. In other words, it’s easy to assume that because your supporters are the ones doing the actual fundraising that they are the leaders of the campaign. That’s a huge mistake.
When you mentally cede responsibility of your campaign to supporters, it becomes a lot easier for things to start going off the rails. If your campaign begins to lull (as most naturally do at some point) your instinct (whether consciously or subconsciously) will be to peg your fundraisers as the ones responsible for the lack of activity. You begin to operate as if you don’t have control over the situation. It becomes easy to blame other people, or conclude that online fundraising just won’t work for you.
Likewise, if you put too much emphasis on other external factors (like sponsor promotions or donated prizes for example) you can be left reeling if they don’t work out as well as you expect. When you fail to really own the success or failure of your campaign, you start from a position of weakness and you compromise your effectiveness throughout.
Becoming an Empowered Fundraiser
The best online fundraisers take the exact opposite approach. They consciously accept responsibility for creating and running engaging campaigns. By adopting this mindset, they naturally develop a more proactive approach to their fundraising.
Instead of just launching a campaign because they have a clever idea, they spend time planning everything out. They develop interesting content to deliver to campaign participants because even though they know their supporters will do the fundraising, they recognize that it’s their job to create an inspiring experience for those fundraisers. When things don’t work out according to plan, they rely upon their own creativity to come up with ideas to inject energy back into the campaign. They own the success or failure of the campaign, and they act accordingly.
Does this mean that you can control everything in your campaigns? No, of course not. But you have more control than you might imagine and when you operate from an attitude of accountability, you get better results.
The Truth About Online Fundraising
Online fundraising in general, and peer-to-peer fundraising in particular, have introduced new efficiencies into the fundraising process. You can reach more people in less time and for a lot less money. You can leverage your supporter base to bring new networks of donors into the fold and raise more money. These are all great things and things that help differentiate online fundraising. But just because online fundraising has introduced new efficiencies doesn’t mean that it has fundamentally altered the basics of effectively raising money.
Don’t make the mistake of abandoning the principles of solid grassroots fundraising just because you are operating online. Great online fundraisers still require effort from your end. They require leadership, personalized communication with supporters, and an ability to adapt to circumstances as they arise. Make it your personal resolution to adopt an attitude of accountability for your next online campaign. You might just be surprised by how much of a difference a simple shift in attitude can make.
Ready to Raise More Money Online?
Photo Credit: Flickr User _DJ_