Welcome back to Online Fundraising 101 with CommitChange! So far we’ve covered the very basic info about getting started in the world of online fundraising and how to choose the best fundraising platform for your nonprofit. Now, the exciting part begins: Creating your very first online fundraising campaign!
As with any other fundraiser for your nonprofit, you must first set a goal. Whether that is a dollar amount, a participation percentage, etc, you will need a benchmark to be able to look back and see if your efforts were successful or not.
Your goal must be realistic and achievable. “How does one determine an achievable goal?” you might ask. Take a look at your previous campaigns, what kind of funds has your organization been able to raise and in what time frames? What has been your most successful campaigns and why?
Don’t think your online fundraising goal will at any moment limit your campaign, that’s the beauty of online fundraisers. You can very easily go over your goal because an online fundraiser should be easily shareable on social media, email and online platforms.
Also, it is important to note that if your campaign meets its goal or not, this doesn’t particularly mean your campaign was not successful. This simply means you need to review areas of improvement and this should be made easy through your online donation platform’s campaign data.
Establish a Timeline
Crowdfunding and nonprofit online fundraising campaigns have one thing in common: they aim to meet a goal through multiple donations in a set amount of time. Although you can also maintain a permanent Nonprofit Profile to accept donations, as well as have a donate button on your website, campaigns should have a set lifetime.
Once you have established your goal, you must also determine what is a reasonable duration for your campaign. This time frame should be not too short in that you might not meet your goal, but also not too long in which your campaign might be lost in cyberspace. (This, unfortunately, tends to happen as the internet is a place where timely and relevant content die quickly due to the vast amount of content and campaigns that are created everyday).
So what’s the perfect time frame for a campaign? Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data that supports a specific amount of days and hours for a successful campaign but we do have some tips on short term campaigns vs long term campaigns:
Short Term Online Fundraising Campaigns
- These should last 30 days or less
- Trigger a sense of urgency with your campaign’s content
- Aim to tie it into an event or a significant date to give the sense of urgency more importance
- Plan these with plenty of time in advance and make sure you can have a dedicated team or staff member solely dedicated to it while the campaign is running
Long Term Online Fundraising Campaigns
- Long term campaigns last more than a month
- These work as an ongoing way to raise funds throughout the year
- You can tie these into other fundraising activities and allow them to compliment each other (For example, if you are sending a mailer to your donors, allow them to also donate through this online mechanism and promote the online portion of the campaign in all of your online media)
- Require less planning and support, but should be closely analyzed to determine areas of improvement for the remainder of the campaign or the following campaign
Create Your Campaign’s Story
As we mentioned in one of our previous blogs. Getting others to believe in your cause is certainly hard to do. You must first build a voice for your nonprofit, craft a story and then present it in a way that will engage donors.
People give because it allows them to partake in a shared story. If your storytelling is not engaging enough, the reader might feel the need to want to partake in this particular story and campaign. The harsh truth is this: donors do not want to hear all the details about your organization and the programs you provide. Donors, want to hear about the social impact that is made possible through their donations. Much of the work that your organization is doing is not necessarily relatable to the average donor. To counteract this, you can share stories when creating your campaigns. What kind of stories? Of the people you serve, your supporters, and anyone else that will allow you to hopefully create that human connection to your nonprofit.
In simple terms, Stories are what give meaning to data and facts. These stories are what allow a donor to emotionally connect to your nonprofit’s impact and what motivates them to donate to a particular campaign.
How do you tell a good story?
There is more to storytelling than typing up someone’s experiences, what does it take to have a compelling story for raising funds?
- Make it Universal - Think about your different constituents and how each of them could or could not relate to your story.Write a story that transcends any barriers that might segment your demographics.
- Make it Memorable - Storytelling is a creative activity. Remember, you are using storytelling to truly stand out among the other campaigns out there. Write from the heart, let your passion shine through your written story. Also, aside from the written content think about how your reader will see it; use photographs, graphics, and videos to further engage the reader.
- Make it Varied - Don’t stick to just one type of story, mix it up and give your supporters a bigger picture about your organization
- Make the Donor the Hero - Remind your donor how they can be the true hero for those who benefit from your nonprofit’s work. People give because it makes them feel good and makes them a part of a success story. Finish your stories with powerful, emotive statements and call to actions. Give them the choice to be the true heros in your campaign.
It’s time to launch your campaign! The best campaigns are those with constant content pushes, so share it everywhere. Send out an email blast to your donor database about the launch of the campaign, share it on your social media, highlight it on your website. You should also encourage your staff members and social media followers to share it as well. Be sure to continue sharing it throughout the life of the campaign, while adjusting content for it. Do updates, and progress posts as the campaign end date begins to approach, highlight donors, thank the supporters along the way, etc. Creating your first campaign will take a lot of planning, but once you get a handle of online fundraising it’ll get easier and easier.