Altruistic advertising: Creating a strong charity fundraising campaign strategy
A non-profit charity is a wonderful thing. Charitable groups and organisations identify problems with the world and embark on a mission to rectify every issue they encounter, one step at a time.
It’s charities that inspire action on a global level, push people to think about things that are bigger than themselves, and ultimately make the earth a better planet to live on.
The only problem with running a non-profit is that you’re going to need to find some cash to make a real impact, and that means that you need a powerful fundraising campaign. A great fundraising campaign strategy can give your group the attention it needs, organise your efforts, and inspire people into action.
Unfortunately, the passion and excitement that’s inherent in most non-profit organisations, often means that charities are eager to jump into action with spontaneity, rather than careful planning. These groups believe that they can simply start a campaign as soon as an idea comes to mind. Unfortunately, while that might seem like a good idea on the surface, the truth is that it can lead to headaches, stress, and serious problems with your (already limited) finances.
With the right team by your side, you can develop a comprehensive plan of action that maps your path all the way from inspiration to success. In fact, a really good fundraising campaign strategy could ensure that you continue to earn the attention of your key donators for years to come.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
The anatomy of a dedicated fundraising campaign strategy
Let’s begin by looking at what a fundraising campaign strategy is.
In a world where your future depends on brand loyalty, a fundraising campaign strategy is the solution that ensures you’re creating a marketing experience that resonates with your audience on a deeper level. It’s something that helps to define your organisation, your mission, and why people should give you their support.
Creating a fundraising campaign gives your team a promotional direction to move in while helping to better describe the nature of your brand, and what you can offer the world around you. It helps you to build your personality, decide how you’re going to interact with your audience, and even make long-term decisions about your brand voice.
Here are just some of the steps you’ll think about when working with a marketing agency:
1. Creating a “case for support”
A case for support is the most important element of any fundraising campaign. Basically, it’s the internal document that outlines how you’re going to communicate with your audience and your team members. It determines what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re going to get support from the right people. Think of it like a brand manifesto for your campaign. A case for support will include the answers to these questions:
Why should someone support your campaign – what makes you special?
How can people get involved with your fundraising campaign?
What is your organisation about – what do you do?
What problems are you addressing, and how are you addressing them?
Why is this particular campaign so good for your overarching goals?
2. Planning, and analysis
Often, a good fundraising campaign strategy will involve thinking about where you want your funds to come from. You’ll need a mixed portfolio, ideally, to ensure that you’re not relying on a single source for all your income. Some of the sources you might consider include:
Local communities and groups: Churches, schools, and businesses all willing to raise money for you.
Private companies: Bigger brands and companies who can support your cause on an international, or country-wide level.
Trusts and foundations: Most people start here with their fundraising, looking for grants from organisations throughout the country.
The wider public?
3. Structuring your campaign
When you know where you’re going to begin marketing yourself, you’ll be able to start structuring a fundraising campaign strategy. For instance, you might choose to work with a fundraising agency, work alongside a consultant, or try to engage multiple businesses over a specific period of time.
Research is crucial in any brand development strategy – even for fundraising and non-profit companies. Your research will involve looking at organisations and people who have a reason to support you, and the ability to help. You’ll also need to research to decide how you’re going to reach out to your specific audience.
5. Creating a proposition
With your audience in mind, you’ll need to create a proposition that matches the beliefs and interests of your target market. Let them know what their money will do, and then ask them to give you it. Foundations and trusts will need written proposals, whereas corporates might require a pitch.
What does a powerful fundraising campaign look like?
Non-profit organisations find themselves in a uniquely challenging position. They face all the problems that regular businesses encounter, and then additional issues with finance on top of that. For most organisations, building a successful fundraising campaign strategy will mean being willing to explore new opportunities and solutions when they present themselves.
For instance, just because you had success getting your message to the masses through direct mail, traditional media campaigns, radio and TV ads in the past, doesn’t mean that the same strategy will be successful now. As the digital world has evolved, people expect more engaging omni-channel experiences from all brands – including non-profits.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need to focus on everything from professional photography and imagery in your campaigns, to conceptual top-level messaging, professional copywriting, and multi-media engagement. Here are just some of the brands who have got it right up to now.
1. Macmillan – Brave the Shave
This has to be one of our favourite fundraising campaigns of all time – and it’s only partially because we worked on it. As a dedicated branding and marketing agency, Fabrik has worked with countless companies and non-profit organisations to help them spread brand awareness and engage their fans.
The Macmillan “Brave the Shave” campaign began in 2014, encouraging participants to shave their hair in support of cancer research. During the first year alone, the campaign, and the corresponding online tool saw incredible engagement, raising nearly £700,000 from dedicated fans. More than 25,000 shavers had signed up by the end of 2017, and the result was an incredible £7 million in donations.
2. The British Heart Foundation – My Marathon
Recently, the British Heart Foundation launched a fundraising campaign strategy known as “My Marathon”. It was a virtual fundraising event that allowed participants to run a marathon according to their own schedule. The people who took part could download email templates, social media kits, and even catch up on inspirational blog posts on the My Marathon Website.
The campaign exceeded expectations, with more than 31,000 sign-ups, and over £1 million raised towards life-saving research into heart disease and other heart-based illnesses.
3. WWF – The VR Tiger Experience
WWF has long been known for their incredible fundraising campaigns. From their solution that involved making animal emojis to raise awareness to endangered creatures, to their 2016 VR experience. The summer VR campaign allowed members of the public to step into the shoes of a ranger, coming face-to-face with tigers through a digital program.
The campaign occurred in shopping centres throughout London, and wowed the public, combining the novelty of new technology with visual engagement.
4. National Trust – The NT Challenge
The National Trust was one of the first charities ever to connect with their audience effectively using Instagram. With more than 400 million users on the social media platform today, it makes sense that non-profits would want to start making the most of the benefits that social sharing has to offer.
National trust asked their followers to contribute to their fundraising campaign by sharing photos of National Trust protected landscapes, buildings and coastlines with the hashtag #NTChallenge. They chose a winning photo every week to help “gamify” the experience. Now, their Instagram following has more than 50,000 fans.
Tips for inspiring your audience into action
An incredible fundraising campaign strategy is effective because it not only raises awareness for your mission but also helps to inspire action from your audience. For any brand to encourage others into action, they need to learn how to use a combination of careful marketing techniques and brand building strategies to inspire affinity and cultivate long-term relationships.
With the right marketing or fundraising agency by your side, you can start to create a dedicated campaign, complete with properly organised media and ongoing advertising. Here are just some of the tips you can implement into your fundraising campaign strategy, to ensure you inspire your audience into action:
1. Coordinate a multi-channel campaign
From video marketing to podcasts, blogging, and even social media solutions, marketing today is about a lot more than direct mail and leaflets. Ultimately, if you want to get the best out of your fundraising campaign strategy, then you’ll need a wide-ranging combination of traditional media, website content, and social media solutions.
Your aim in a fundraising campaign is to get your message out to the people most likely to interact with and support you, then motivate them to act. That means you need to be able to speak to your audience, wherever they might be.
2. Use “urgency”
When you’re a non-profit organisation hoping to make money for your cause, you might think that the longer you can run your campaign, the better. However, the truth is that keeping your campaign short can be even better for inspiring action.
Your impact statement will need to be dramatic, followed by a looming deadline that tells people that they need to act now if they want to change the world. One of the key problems stopping engagement with non-profit companies is that people simply think they can “come back to it later”. Urgency could give your audience the push they need.
3. Show and tell
It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking customers to buy a new product or invest in your charity, the key to success is telling them what they need to do. Make sure that your fundraising campaign strategy includes a clear call to action, and ensure that you link donations to their impact too. Remember, you need to convince your audience that their donation is going to make a difference.
For instance, tell them that $25 will vaccinate four children against a life-threatening disease. Let your followers know that just $5 could save someone’s life. Show them the impact they can have.
4. Make it easy to engage
You can spend all of your advertising budget on a professional marketing agency who convinces your audience to donate, and still fail with your fundraising campaign strategy, just because you’ve made it too difficult for your fans to complete their donation. Make sure that your donation process is quick, easy, and accessible.
If necessary, conduct a website audit, and check that your navigational solutions work just as they’re supposed to. Think about how you can implement mobile-friendliness into each of your pages, or even consider investing in your own app.
5. Be visual
When you’re building a fundraising campaign strategy, it’s important to take advantage of the best marketing methods available. Today, 37% of marketers believe visual marketing to be the most important form of content online, second only to blogging. Visual campaigns are particularly effective for non-profits because they help to capture the hearts and minds of your people for longer.
We mentioned above that people want to see the outcome of their donations, and if you can show them with pictures, that’s even more impressive. Remember, though pictures designed to cause sadness can work for fundraising campaigns, the best option is to stick to positive pictures that show the incredible work you’re doing.
6. Do something different
One of the biggest challenges that non-profits face, is the knowledge that they’re not the only organisation out there that deserves the attention of their audience. There are countless important causes to think about, so just like a business, you’ll need to make sure that you’re showing your followers what makes you special.
One great example of “doing something different” is the “Free Timmy” campaign conducted by Invisible Children. A member of staff from the group volunteered to live in a cage until the organisation met their fundraising goals. The experience was filmed and streamed on YouTube, where people could buy things for Timmy, including food, pillows, and blankets – all by donating to the campaign. The solution worked because it inspired and engaged the Invisible Children’s audience.
7. Be engaging
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the most successful fundraising campaigns aren’t the ones that simply ask supporters for money. The energy and impact of any campaign heightens when the supporters can make their own voice heard. People like to feel as though they’re having an impact, and it’s that drive that fundraising campaign strategy solutions thrive on.
Introducing content that engages your audience and asks them to contribute more than just their money can be a great way to establish long-lasting relationships. For instance, the “Stick Out Your Tongue” campaign for the Belgium Flemish League Against Cancer asked supporters to post pictures of themselves on social media.
8. Maintain your focus
Creating and implementing a successful fundraising campaign strategy can be a complicated thing – even with the help of a fundraising agency. Unfortunately, it’s crucial to make sure that you stay focused on your goal if you want to get the best results. Think about how you can combine all your messaging across different channels to answer the key questions your audience wants to know about, such as:
What difference is a contribution going to make?
Whose lives will be changed (videos and pictures are powerful here).
How much have you raised, and how much more do you need?
Which supporters are giving you the best results?
What creative things are your supporters doing?
9. Remember to keep in touch
Remember, when your campaign is over, that doesn’t mean you should simply stop interacting with your donors and followers. The attention and interactions that you’ve earned during your fundraising campaign could be essential to ensuring you continue to get the ongoing finances you need for years to come. Make sure that you give some closure to your supporters, and keep them posted on how they can get involved again in the future.
Reach out and thank your supporters for everything they’ve done, and make sure that you launch a follow-up campaign in a few months. Even if you didn’t reach your goal, you need to show your people that you appreciate the hard work that they’ve put in. Let them know that they’ve still made a difference.
Building your fundraising campaign strategy: Start with a marketing agency
Creating an effective fundraising campaign strategy can seem like a challenging process, but it all comes down to focusing on the same foundations any company, brand, or business would use to make their voice heard.
For some things, spontaneity can be a wonderful trait – but anything that involves cultivating funds for your non-profit is something that should be managed with careful attention to detail, and constant focus. Having a powerful fundraising campaign strategy in place can be hugely important when it comes to determining the success of your nonprofit brand for the long term.
It’s easy to convince yourself that all you need is a little inspiration and creativity. However, the most powerful brands that you see in the world today, didn’t get to where they are by making it up as they went along. It’s not enough to have a “rough idea” of how you’re going to communicate with your fundraisers and followers. You can’t just start with an arbitrary fundraising goal and an incomplete timeline of events.
The best fundraising campaign strategy should be a blueprint that tells a full story of what your team can do to make your campaign more successful. It’s about arranging your fundraising initiatives according to facts and figures, so you don’t have to wait for something to go drastically wrong before you can make a change. After all, working without any real oversight always means that you’re leaving yourself open to poorly planned actions, omissions, and lost opportunities. For instance:
Without a fundraising campaign strategy, you can’t research, prioritise, and plan for the funding you need. There’s an ocean of opportunities to choose from when looking for ways to engage your audience – you need to know what’s going to work best for you.
You won’t be able to target the right people. You might have a great integrated marketing campaign to help spread brand awareness, from a podcast to an impeccable blog schedule – but who are you targeting? A marketing agency or a fundraising agency can help you to pinpoint the people most likely to be moved by your cause. This means that every penny of your marketing budget is spent with purpose.
A lack of campaign strategy means that you don’t have the chance to recognise mistakes before you’ve made them. Mistakes can be a great learning opportunity – but they can also be dangerous for a non-profit. The wrong communication, the wrong strategy, or the wrong campaign could alienate your audience, and your source of funding, forever.
A fundraising campaign strategy is your blueprint towards success. It all begins with your mission, moves onto a path of specific goals, and constructs a plan that’s all about engaging your audience. Don’t take chances with your fundraising efforts. Build your campaign on a powerful brand platform, using the right communication, and the inbound marketing techniques to inspire your audience.