Nonprofit Marketing: How to Build Anticipation for Campaigns
When you’re planning your nonprofit’s fundraising campaigns, it can feel like there are a million details to get in order. You need to set up your campaign page, line up sponsors and build a budget among several other tasks. Most importantly, you need to proactively spread the word.
The effectiveness of each of your fundraising campaigns depends on your marketing plan. After all, how do you expect people to contribute to your fundraisers if they never hear about them?
Chances are, you’ve historically promoted your campaigns to supporters, but you may not be doing so in the most effective manner. While every fundraiser differs, there are several common promotional best practices that will set up any campaign for success.
To help make sure you’re allocating your time and resources wisely, we’ve put together five tips to incorporate into campaign outreach, including:
- Soft launch your fundraising campaign.
- Develop a multichannel nonprofit marketing plan.
- Educate key supporters on nonprofit marketing strategies.
- Encourage monthly recurring gifts in your nonprofit marketing.
- Set up a matching period for your fundraising campaign.
Whether you’re brand new to nonprofit fundraising or are a seasoned professional, these five tips will ensure your next campaign runs smoothly, engages supporters, and generates lasting support. Let’s get started.
1. Soft Launch Your Fundraising Campaign
A soft launch is a one- to two-week period during which you recruit core supporters before opening your fundraising campaign up to the entire public.
This group of supporters will be the first to donate and walk through each aspect of your campaign. Since people are more likely to donate to your campaign if you’ve already raised some money, gaining traction from early adopters is vital. Plus, a soft launch can help you work out any bugs or errors, like broken links or typos.
This smaller group of dedicated supporters who you’ll open your campaign up to first will help build campaign momentum before the official, hard launch. Some of these early adopters could be:
- Past powerhouse peer-to-peer fundraising participants
- Passionate long-term volunteers
- Recurring or major donors
- Past event attendees
- Social media evangelists
Leading up to the official launch, send an email to this select group of supporters and ask for their feedback. Would they change anything? Did they have any trouble navigating the donation process? Is your fundraising campaign’s message clear?
Take this feedback and incorporate it to refine your campaign. When it comes time to open up your fundraiser to the general public, all the kinks will be worked out, and the momentum you generated in your soft launch will likely carry over and push you toward your goals.
2. Develop a Multichannel Nonprofit Marketing Plan
Prior to launching your campaign, build out a multichannel marketing strategy. This simply means that you’re communicating core messages across a combination of platforms. Marketing your campaign across several outlets will certainly get your message in front of a wide audience, but you need to strategically plan this campaign. That way, your fundraiser is promoted in the best possible locations with the most effective message to resonate with your target audience.
As explored in GivingMail’s guide to marketing for nonprofit organizations, a few channels make up the core of any multichannel fundraising strategy. These common platforms include direct mail, email and social media. However, there are numerous other outlets you should consider when spreading the word about campaigns, including phone calls, text messages and your organization’s website.
To strike the perfect balance, determine which platforms your supporters are active on. Then, take your outreach a bit further with tips like:
- Adjust your message based on the outlet. Rather than blasting the same generic message across all channels, tailor your message based on the platform. For example, social media is the place to post short appeals with powerful imagery, while longer appeals that are text-based might work well for emails.
- Pay attention to engagement analytics. Which types of messages perform well on each platform? Maybe your campaign videos and images garner a lot of likes, comments and shares on social media while text-only posts don’t. In this case, you’d know to focus more heavily on visual elements. Perhaps certain email subject lines lead to higher open rates. You’ll know to stick with the same structure as the ones that led to more supporters opening the emails. Paying attention to these metrics allows you to refine your messages to be more impactful as you go.
Effective multichannel nonprofit marketing looks different for every organization. It’s based on who your supporters are and what messages resonate with them. When you implement personalized content based on the analytics and metrics you’ve collected, the messages you send out are more likely to catch supporters’ eyes, directly encouraging them to participate in your campaign.
3. Educate Key Supporters on Nonprofit Marketing Strategies
Some of your best campaign marketers are your supporters, especially when they’re participating in the fundraiser itself. With social fundraising in particular, your nonprofit’s success depends on your peer-to-peer participants, so make sure they’re fully prepared to take on the responsibility of marketing the campaign.
A couple of ways you can set them up for success include:
- Share tips and tricks. Send out educational resources about the best ways for peer-to-peer participants to activate their networks, starting with their friends and families and then branching out to other community members. You can also include examples of past participants who got creative with their campaign pages and outreach.
- Create templates. From social media to email, create templates that supporters can use in their nonprofit marketing. This guide claims, “As a professional fundraiser, you know all the nuances that go into creating powerful narratives and creating eye-catching social media posts that are backed by compelling imagery. However, your volunteer fundraisers probably don’t.” With built-out templates, all supporters need to do is add personal tweaks to the standard message to convey why they support your work.
Even if you’re not conducting a peer-to-peer campaign, supporters can be instrumental in your nonprofit campaign marketing. Encourage them to share your social media posts, forward your emails to their networks and draft their own messages about your campaign to send to friends and family.
Remember, staff and other team members already know what goes into effective nonprofit marketing. Your supporters likely don’t. Taking these extra steps will give them the confidence they need to generate support for your campaign.
4. Encourage Monthly Recurring Gifts in Your Nonprofit Marketing
According to various fundraising studies, recurring donors give an incredible 42% more per year compared to one-time donors. So if you’re not asking campaign supporters to upgrade to monthly gifts, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
This online fundraising guide suggests that recurring donations lead to a more predictable revenue stream for your organization. Not to mention, the right tools empower donors to take complete charge of their own giving by adjusting the frequency (e.g. monthly or annually) and amount of their gifts.
Your fundraising campaigns present the perfect opportunity to promote recurring gifts. First and foremost, make sure your campaign page prompts users to sign up with an easy-to-select option. Take a look at the following example to see how simple the option should be:
From here, integrate recurring gifts into all your campaign messaging. Push the monthly gift option with well-placed calls to action and incentives for recurring givers. Be sure to also share the impact that recurring gifts have compared to one-time donations.
By prioritizing recurring gifts in your nonprofit marketing plan, you can effectively build campaign momentum, persuade supporters to join and develop a strong base of long-term support.
5. Set Up a Matching Period for Your Fundraising Campaign
If you’re not already taking advantage of matching gifts, your team is most likely missing out on revenue. Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy where companies match the contributions their employees make to eligible nonprofits. Some companies even offer fundraising matches, where they match the money employees raise on behalf of your cause.
While these represent a powerful fundraising opportunity, many organizations fail to effectively promote these programs in their nonprofit marketing plans. Around $2 to $3 billion is donated annually through these programs. However, an estimated $4 to $7 billion in matching gift revenue goes unclaimed each year, according to matching gift studies.
Just like recurring donations, matching gifts can help you build momentum for your campaign, too. Set up matching gift periods, where your team proactively promotes the opportunity more than usual for a set amount of time via social media, phone calls and so on.
Matching donation periods can ignite excitement, especially during the mid-campaign lull when that initial momentum tapers off. They establish a sense of urgency, driving supporters to give sooner and secure the match instead of waiting to do it later. Alternatively, you can promote matching gifts at the start of your campaign, which will drive excitement right out of the gate.
Encourage donors to research their match eligibility and share the exact steps for doing so. After all, who wouldn’t want to multiply their contribution without reaching back into their wallet?
If there aren’t many matching-gift opportunities in your existing donor base, consider connecting with local partners, sponsors or major donors before the campaign launches. Encourage these groups to be matching-gift partners for your campaign, where they match the gifts your supporters make.
Securing these partners ahead of time means you’ll have maximum match amounts decided upon and can plan out your nonprofit’s marketing to promote the opportunity across your emails, website and social media. That way, you can make the most of the opportunity by driving as many matches as possible.
Marketing your organization’s fundraising campaign is easier said than done. While some organizations simply blast campaign messages without any forethought, you’ll find much more success in developing a dedicated nonprofit marketing strategy to stay ahead of your fundraiser. From having a soft launch to pushing recurring gifts and matching donations, there are numerous opportunities for building anticipation for your fundraisers.
While effective promotion looks different for every organization, these strategies will serve as a solid starting point for any cause. Be sure to adjust your tactics based on your nonprofit’s unique needs and supporter base. With time, you’ll be able to refine your outreach and connect with supporters in a way that drives donations and generates plenty of support.
Andrew is the head of marketing and customer success for Donately. After getting involved with nonprofits at a young age, he discovered a passion for helping the organizations that are making the world a better place. Knowing how vital online fundraising has become, his goal is to help nonprofits raise more money online each year! In his spare time, you will find him cooking up dinner, playing with his dog or cheering on Boston sports teams.