Annual Campaign Trilogy Part II: 6 Tips to Improve Fundraising Results

SEANhdshtYesterday Sean King gave us some steps to get started with a successful annual campaigns. Today we talk about getting better results from your fundraising. ~Kivi

Guest Post by Sean King of YEA!

Making the decision to use a wide variety of media means that you have a toolbox full of nuggets and information for your fans to engage with the latest awesomeness inside your organization.

By telling your story repeatedly but with new and fresh approaches, current and prospective donors will feel much more connected with your organization and in turn, supporters will be compelled to contribute larger donations and the door will be opened for new supporters to participate.

Align Your Media

While it may seem to be a daunting task to take on every media platform, it does not mean that every media holds the same weight.

For example, if your main audience is early boomers, then a media split which focuses on more traditional delivery vehicles and enhanced by mainstream social and email will work well. A strategy that leans too much on cutting edge social will no doubt create some buzz, but will not deliver the needed donors to reach your intended goals.

However, if you are targeting a much younger audience, traditional vehicles might help to reinforce, but the energy and groundswell you want from the grassroots will be much more easily delivered through social media.

Week Zero of the Campaign: Setting the Stage

No successful campaign can begin on day one at a cold stop. Even if you haven’t sent an e-newsletter for months, there’s still some momentum from all of your past work.

The trick is to spend time moving up on the feeds of your fans so that when your campaign begins, folks are already thinking of you or at the very least, have heard about you recently.

Our organization has the luxury of having access to a media producer, writer and tech person on staff to assist the campaign manager. We spent almost a month setting the stage, introducing the backstory on many of our young participants, so that when we eventually asked for a contribution, it was a natural next step in the process of our communication relationship with our fans.

Working the List

How well do you know your database? Are you on close personal terms with it? Or are you on a blind date every time you open the program?

If you’re like our organization, many years of churnover from young staff, had left our database in a bit of an unwieldy mess. However, having a second year veteran at the helm of intimate with the names and contacts, we were able to more efficiently and effectively reach our audience

By manhandling the database, in some cases line by line, we were able to experience 78% retention of our donors from one year to the next.

Once again having a high retention rate isn’t the only component driving success, but it is an example of all of the pieces coming together on a puzzle to make for a great outcome.

Telemarketing Ain’t Dead, Yet

Many do not have the time or personnel or resources to manage a telemarketing campaign to support your fundraising efforts. And while the data may not show grand sums being raised, we do know that telemarketing was an important piece to the puzzle that contributed to the overall results we experienced.

The system we engaged allowed us to prerecord an outbound message for leaving voicemails, while allowing our staff of 4-5 to only speak to individuals who were brave enough to answer the phone.

Before you wade off into the sea of telemarketing, be forewarned it is fraught with dangers like abandoned calls, wrong numbers, hang-ups and those who have had negative past experiences that will want to lash out at you.

You actually can learn something from politics

Whatever you feel about present day politics, there is one thing you cannot forget: they do know how to market their candidate and their positions. When hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on political advertising, you know there must be some very smart political advisers behind the scenes.

I stumbled on the similarities very early on that we run fundraising campaigns, so why should they not be run like political campaigns?

In all reality, they are not that different.

Being able to identify the most likely voter and reach them with the best message via the media their most comfortable with is a lesson that politicians learned long ago, and one that we as marketing fundraisers should follow.

The Game, The Chase, The Challenge

Long a favorite of the public radio fundraiser and telethon, never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned challenge.

Whatever methodology you choose to employ, the ‘gamifying’ of fundraising allows to get everyone paddling in the same direction with a definite goal and timeline.

For our test case, we had risen to a level of our past number of total donors, however we felt we were about to plateau, so we engaged a simple “donation-plus” convention to create our challenge. We set up a challenge for ten days and had a goal to hit which would put us within 20% of our eventual ultimate goal.

Check out the next installment of our Annual Campaign Trilogy on Friday when we take a brief tour of the timeline on a week by week basis through the campaign.

Read the full post here

A serial entrepreneur at heart, Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for over 20 years.  Currently, Sean is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) a non-profit organization based in Allentown, Pa. which teaches life lessons through music.  He also continues his consulting practice through Aspire Brand Networks.  Sean resides with his wife Natalie and son Haydn in the global crossroads of Fogelsville, Pa. You can follow him on Twitter @skingaspire