The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

5 Tips for Launching a SMART and Successful Fundraising Campaign

Did you hear about the anonymous donor who paid a $4 million mortgage of a church in Georgia? Or the California high school that received a $1 million windfall from the Snapchat investment?

These stories are great, but most of us don’t have such fortune. Instead, we work and plan and worry about making budget. If your organization has at least a few years of history, you have revenue streams: an event or two, an annual appeal campaign, a grant, and a handful of major donors. Maybe you tried an online giving campaign like #GivingTuesday – with unremarkable results.

You hear stories about other organizations getting great results from online campaigns and special events, but you  can’t figure out how to share in the windfall. What is their secret? How do they do it?

The secret is executing a strong, and well-planned, fundraising campaign.

What is a strong fundraising campaign?

A strong fundraising campaign is planned around SMART goals: That means the goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-limited. You may have heard of SMART goals before, but I want to walk you through setting one of these goals for fundraising:

First, state clearly, at least internally if not externally, your specific monetary goal.

Next, use historical data to make sure your stated goal is measurable. If you need to raise $50,000, do you have identifiable donors at various giving levels that can help you reach that goal?  If not, do you have another revenue streams to explore?

Then, decide which actions are needed to meet that goal. If you want to acquire three new $5,000 donors, what specific steps will you take to receive their support?

Be realistic. If you have 250 contacts in your database and raise $40,000 in annual gifts from your current stakeholders, launching a campaign to raise $1 million may not be realistic.

And, while you may have an entire year to raise the specified funds, set a shorter timeframe or deadline. This reinforces a sense of urgency for the prospective donor. You don’t want donor fatigue to set in if an ask drags on all year.

Now that you know how to set a SMART goal, I want to share how you can achieve one. There are five keys to success:

  1. Know the why.

When launching a campaign, make sure can clearly answer the “Why?” Imagine for a moment that you are presented with three possible giving opportunities: your organization and two others. Why should a donor give you money (instead of another organization)? Why are you raising money? Why do you need money now? Why is this urgent? Why should I care?

For more tips on executing a great fundraising campaign, sign up for this week’s Nonprofit911 webinar: How to Launch a Successful Fundraising Campaign. 

  1. Understand the donor.

People want to give. They give because it makes them feel that they’ve made a difference. Giving gives them joy. A successful campaign understands what the audience cares about. To grow your audience, you have to know where to reach them. Ask yourself two questions:

  • Where are the people who care about what you care about?
  • How can you share your story with them?
  1. Create connection.

People hear and respond to campaigns differently. Once you identify, and know where to find, your potential donors, converting them to actual donors takes knowing how to connect. Do you need to tug on their heartstrings or offer clear, concise proof of effectiveness?

  1. Offer the right opportunities.

Some folks love a great night out for a worthy cause. Others prefer writing a check and calling it a day. Once you’ve identified your potential donors, you need to figure out the best way to let them give. While you might love to golf and think inviting others to join a foursome will win them over, you could be missing all those who dread a day on the green. Which opportunities will engage your donors?

  1. Make the ask.

All the planning in the world falls short if you don’t ask.

For more tips on executing a great fundraising campaign, sign up for this week’s Nonprofit911 webinar: How to Launch a Successful Fundraising Campaign. 

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  • Ashleigh Bell

    I set up a gofundme account tell me what you think gofundme.com/4b8tt-feed-the-hungry. Any help is appreciated.

About This Blog

Liz Ragland
Manager, Content & Community

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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