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Campaign checklist: driving more donors to your online appeal

We love how creative nonprofits can be. Even in these COVID-times, organizations are rising to the challenge, pivoting campaigns, and embracing the world of digital fundraising. But it isn’t easy, particularly with so many organizations clamoring for clicks. For every success story, another organization is struggling to get its message out there. So, we put our heads together and created this checklist to help your nonprofit drive more donors to its online fundraising campaign.

Phase 1: Before you begin…

It might seem ironic, but to run a good online fundraising campaign, you will probably find yourself spending a chunk of time offline. Why? Because a good campaign is all about planning and preparation. We know it’s tempting to dive right in and start designing your communications plan but, before you do, it is important to take a step back and make sure you can answer the following questions:

Who is your campaign aimed at? ‘The general public’ is not an answer. You need to be specific. If you don’t know who you’re appealing to and why, it is time to go back to the drawing board.

What is their main reason for giving? People give for a reason, and your ask and campaign messaging needs to tap into this. Find your point of connection and use it as inspiration.

-How do they like to give? If your campaign demographic generally prefers to give by cash or check, then an online campaign might not be the right approach!

-Where are they? If you’re planning an online campaign you need to know as much about your donors’ digital footprint as possible. How long do they spend online? What do they do when they’re there and which social media platform are they on?

-What else do I know? Generally, the more you know about your donors, the easier it is to target your approach. Take some time to delve into your data and draw your donor portrait (or portraits – you can have more than one!). Once you understand your audience, you need to think about your ‘why’. That means having answers to the following questions:

-What are you asking for? If you don’t know this, your donors won’t know how to respond. Make sure your ask is clear, simple and actionable.

-Why are you asking now? Urgency drives donations. What is the need behind your campaign and why are you running it now?

-What difference will it make? Fundraising isn’t about persuasion, it’s about inspiration. Don’t guilt people into giving. Design campaign communications that show your donors how their support makes a difference.

When you’ve got a handle on the above, it’s time to start thinking about your creative concept, ask, and key messaging. This is the absolute foundation of your campaign, and you need to take the time to get it right. Stuck for budget? It is absolutely possible to do this in-house, but don’t be afraid to engage an agency. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes and some external creativity is exactly what you need to make campaign magic.

Phase 2: Getting donation ready

It might sound obvious, but you need to be ready to accept donations when they come in. It’s an online campaign, so that means making you’ve got:

-A good payment gateway in place: Either through your own website or a third-party provider. Not sure where to start? Check out this Nonprofit Payment Processing Guide from iATS. 

-A ‘Simple, Savvy and Secure’ donate page: There’s a lot we can learn from online retailers. Streamline your donate function, keep the form simple, the ask clear, and remove as many barriers to donating as you can.

-Alternative options: Just because it’s online doesn’t mean everyone will donate digitally. Make sure your team is prepped to take phone donations and even receive the odd check!

Phase 3: Spreading the word

No campaign sells itself. To get your message out there you are going to need a cross-channel communications strategy. Have you thought about how you’re going to:

-Connect with contacts and networks: It doesn’t need to be flashy, but it does need to be personal. Map out your key organizational contacts and create a plan of action to suit each.

-Hi-jack existing communications: Do you have a newsletter or email that’s about to go out? Make sure it features your online fundraising campaign.

-Update your website: First, you need a campaign landing page, but it doesn’t stop there. Before you launch, make sure you’ve got a host of great content (think stories, photos, and videos) ready to use across your website. 

-Be social: If you’re on it, use it. Make sure your campaign has a short and snappy hashtag, and that your social media is scheduled in advance (don’t make it so tight there isn’t space to be dynamic and respond to the conversation as it develops). Good social media is not about reeling off one ask after another, it’s about sharing great content, telling stories, and creating opportunities for your audience to engage and act.

-Go the extra mile: It’s time to think outside the box. From influencers, guest blogs to podcasts and PR there are lots of ways to get your message out there.

Phase 4: Your donor has landed

If you’re working through this checklist, then you already know you’re ready to take donations. The hard work is done! Sort of. But as the donations come in, you need to make sure you are:

-Tracking income: Don’t just add it up at the end. Monitor campaign progress and capture donor data as you go, it’ll save time in the long run!

-Celebrating successes: Share your milestones and use them to build momentum and inspire more people to give.

-Make live adjustments: Few people get it right the first time around. If you can, track activity throughout your campaign, testing, refining, and adjusting communications as you go.

Phase 5: It doesn’t end with donations

With the target hit, you might think that’s the job done. But really, receiving donations is just the start. For every campaign you run, you need to have a follow-up plan in place. That means getting your thank you letters and online communications ready to go and out the door as soon as possible. You also need to schedule time to update your donors. Let them know how much your campaign raised and keep them posted on project progress. After all, the aim of an online fundraising campaign isn’t just to raise money, it’s to bring in new donors – and you need to everything you can to make them feel welcome.

Want to drive more donors to your online appeal?  Contact us to see how thank CRM can help you with your efforts.  Set up your personalized demo today.