The Ice Bucket Challenge. I want one of those!
We ALL dream of posting our great idea on social media or a crowd funding site (gofundme, indiegogo, youcaring, etc.). We’d like to sit back and watch it go viral. It’ll pick up steam all on its own and all of the sudden, magic! We’ll have all the public awareness we ever wanted and our coffers will be overflowing with donations.
Unfortunately, that’s about as sound a plan as hoping you’ll hit the lottery. Most of the eCampaigns that raise a lot of money, do so because of hard work happening behind the scenes. Somebody has a strategy and has put a lot of thought into the messaging and timeline; they’re sending emails and personal letters, making phone calls and doing a very personal ‘ask’ for most of the dollars that flow in.
Here’s one example of an ecampaign I worked on. We called it a “quick and happy” campaign because we didn’t have to raise a huge amount of money. Therefore, we expected it to be a fairly quick campaign (three weeks) and it would make the donors feel happy about hitting the goal and doing something great for their organization.
The goal was to raise $12,000 to buy a 4WD vehicle for a three-year-old non-profit begun in Zambia by a North Carolina twenty-something year old. The planning began weeks in advance and the timeline looked something like this:
- Map out the theme for the campaign including key messaging to run throughout
- Set goals for the campaign (money and advancing relationships with supporters)
- Contact key supporters to see if they would be willing to pre-give to the campaign
- Script then edit the video that would serve as the lynchpin for the campaign
- Set up a webpage to serve as the home page for the campaign (story updates and giving totals posted here)
- Make a list of story updates that will roll out every 2-3 days on the website and social media sites and assign writers for each
- Launch the campaign with a roll-out of the video via email and on all social media sites we had chosen for the campaign
- Stories are updated on the giving website and on social media several times per week; emails are sent out once or twice a week
- Thank you notes go out as soon as possible after each gift
- Personal emails and phone calls are made to key donors who have not yet responded
- Two short videos providing updates and encouragement go out throughout the three weeks
- Thank you video sent through email and social media when we meet our goal (which we exceeded three days early!)
All this is not to say that a flurry of activity is the key to a successful campaign. Knowing how to tell your nonprofit’s story and stories are far more important. Knowing who your target audience is and creating a campaign that speaks to them is more important. But being prepared and willing to put in the hard work is a vital element in a successful campaign. Plus, it’s a chance to bathe your supporters in your key messaging and great stories about why they should be proud to support you!
Here’s the cute little video we did to launch the campaign. Low-cost but high energy. And fun!