Hardly a day goes by, when you aren't being asked to donate to a project or cause. Sausage sizzles, marathons, international treks, or crowd fund campaigns and, door-to-door collections are a daily fixture in our lives.
Some of these activities are successful in raising awareness and funds, while others fail to make an impact. What separates success and failure? Strategy and planning.
Capture the right information
Fundraising needs to deliver a positive return, both financially and when considering the time donated by volunteers. Before commencing your fundraising campaign, you need to undertake research to identify the factors that are critical for success.
Questions you need to answer include:
Answering these questions is what separates success in your fundraising from failure.
Some of these may be obvious, such as the money that needs to be raised, but make sure you attribute any indirect costs, such as website or printing materials towards your fundraising target. Don't only consider how much you need to raise, but the costs associated in raising this amount.
Research will inform your strategy
Once you have captured this information, you can analyse the results to gain insights into how best to position your fundraising campaign. During this phase you should be able to identify the key messages that will sustain your campaign, as well as the best methods to reach and engage your target markets.
Specific areas to consider include:
Knowing who you want to target
Your fundraising campaign will not be relevant to everyone. Consider who you specifically want to target for donations. For example, primary schools are relevant to parents of current and future students, but also other groups that use these facilities. Consider the groups and individuals that have a direct impact from your fundraising campaign.
Being able to create and sustain your narrative
Every successful campaign requires a narrative. Why are you raising funds and what is the impact? While this may be obvious to yourself, it may not be evident to your potential donors. Ensure you clearly articulate the importance of your fundraising campaign and explain the impact of each donor’s contribution.
Importantly, you need to identify the impact that the donation will deliver, both in the short-term and through the longer term.
For example, if you are raising funds for a new building, what impact will be created? Don’t just think about the immediate benefits, such as new facilities, but articulate what this means over the longer term.
Building sustainable sponsors
Businesses are often seen as potential supporters of a fundraising campaign. If you do plan to seek business support, ensure that you are able to demonstrate value for their sponsorship. For example:
Businesses are often more willing to contribute in-kind support rather than provide a financial commitment. Ensure that you recognise in-kind contributions (such as services or products) the same way you would recognise finance. Foster partnerships to extend your reach. Establishing partnerships with supportive organisations or complementary groups will help you spread awareness of your campaign and extend its reach. Consider which groups will benefit from your fundraising initiative and suggest that they get involved to help.
Engage your partners by advising them on how best to reach their supporters, and why they should donate to your project or cause. If you are raising funds for new sport facilitates, encourage sporting clubs to support the campaign. Don’t wait for partners to take the initiative, ensure that you provide the key materials and messages to encourage them to support your events.
Generate and sustain media interest
Sustaining interest is critical for any campaign, regardless of its length. What activities can you de-liver to sustain interest? If you are aiming for media interest, how can you sustain ongoing cover-age?
Like any other audience, it is import to identify the media as a potential stakeholder. If the reach of your fundraising campaign is local, then target local media (radio and print). Metropolitan wide media will only cover your fundraising campaign if it is novel or has a far-reaching impact. Local media can be a useful tool in generating support for local campaigns.
Make sure you brief media on the purpose of the fundraising campaign and the impact it will have.
Using viral content to support and not replace your campaign
Recent fundraising campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has seen a rush towards social media and viral campaigns. While viral campaigns can have an immediate impact, ensure that you can foster an ongoing commitment towards your project or cause.
There is little merit in using social media if your target donors are better reached using other means. Social media is one component of your fundraising campaign and not the sole tool.
Building loyal contributors
Generating one-off donations can be time consuming. Instead, consider how you can foster donors that provide an ongoing commitment to your project or cause.
Deliver your campaign
Once you have identified your strategies, you can outline how you will deliver your campaign. During this stage you need to prepare a schedule that considers the following:
For example, if you are planning a media launch, you need to identify when invitations to VIPs need to be sent, when people will follow up to confirm attendance. Ensure that all activities are documented so they are not forgotten.
Engage after your campaign
Do not forget to engage people following your fundraising campaign. Thank contributors and suggest ways that they can maintain their involvement with your project or cause. It becomes easier to re-engage people if you take the effort to thank people after your campaign.
Do you know that up to 20% of all funds can be donated after an event? Make sure that people realise it is not too late to contribute to your fundraising campaign.
A fundraising plan will help ensure a successful campaign, take the time to identify what you want to achieve and how you will do it, so you can consider how best to raise funds. A plan will save you time and effort, because you will have undertaken the required steps, before you commence your activities.
Furthermore, a plan reduces the risk of your reputation by ensuring that you have covered potential situations before they occur.
A plan helps you stay on track and manage expectations as you focus on delivering results.
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About the Author
Alex Makin is the Managing Director of Syneka Marketing, a strategic marketing agency that works with leading enterprises and not-for-profit organisations to achieve their goals. Alex is an Accredited Certified Practising Marketer, as well as an Associate Fellow and Victorian Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute. www.synekamarketing.com.au is Syneka Marketing's website.
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