Guest Post by Sean King of YEA!
While planning is theory until implemented, the following is a brief week-by-week timeline of activities and accomplishments of how we reached a 64% increase over the previous year in the number of donors and a 90% improvement in income for a 20-year old campaign.
Week 0 – The Pre-season. Several weeks of videos were released as part of a tease campaign telling the story of the young people who will ultimately benefit from supporter’s donations. We also released historical videos to reach those most dedicated to the organization. Meanwhile, mailing materials were finalized, mailing lists cleaned and social media schedules set.
The Campaign Launch. Goal: 400 donors
Week 1 –Mailers in mailboxes, emails in inboxes and social media on newsfeeds. The spotlight is on and the campaign takes flight.
Week 2 – The Phone-athon. Who said telemarketing was dead? By using cloud technology, we leveraged telemarketing for good, not evil. New solutions improved efficiency allowing us to automatically leave pre-recorded messages, while staff and volunteers spoke directly with live individuals.
Week 3 – Phoneathon continued to lapsed donors, new fans and friends and non-giving alumni. VIP outreach began to top dollar donors and a slew of individual, personalized emails. It ain’t pretty, but the results sure are.
The Surge. Goal: 400 donors amounting to 800 total (or 200 more than last year’s total)
Week 4 – Time for a second direct mailer and telemarketing and handwritten appeals from current students in the program. The personal touch never hurts, and when it’s coming from the direct beneficiary of the donation, even better!
Week 5 – Follow-up postcard to donors who have yet to contribute to the current campaign. Three mailings to the same audience? You bet.
Week 6 – The Challenge. Long a tool of public radio, we engaged a challenge which matched donations nearly dollar for dollar to get us through the mid-campaign slump. With a goal to reach 250 donors, we finished well in excess of 300+ donors during the challenge.
Week 7 – Our mantra was to Finish Strong.
We leveraged a live community performance for in-person donations and broadcast the performance live via YouTube to bring attention to a worldwide audience.
Besides achieving our goals and setting a new standard for how our fundraising campaigns are executed, the takeaway from the campaign is: with today’s technology, if you can think it, there’s a pretty good chance you can do it.
No longer is a fundraising campaign simply the dry letter with a response card. Nor is it a static website with a “Donate Here” button. The competition for fundraising grows every day and how you present your organization sets the tone for your fundraising success.
Your fans and friends love you. They want to support you. You just need to reinforce those reasons and provide platforms to create these transactions of love and to keep their passion alive for you and your cause.
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