Creating a Top-Notch Communications Plan for Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign
Last month, I wrote about pulling together the right team for your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Once you have your team in place, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and build your campaign.
One of the first steps is to create a communications plan. A communications plan helps your team think more strategically and communicate more effectively about your campaign — internally and outside of the organization.
Five key areas to consider when constructing your plan are:
- Campaign steps
- Communications channels
- Communications calendar
These ideas might sound simple. And really, they are. In fact, they can seem so simple that you might be tempted to skip them and just work them out as you go along. Or you might decide to just “rinse and repeat” what you did in your last campaign. But I’ve found that when nonprofits take time to consider these steps before each campaign, their campaigns run more smoothly and they see better overall results.
Let’s take a look at each of these areas:
To build a great communications plan, it helps to first map out every step of the campaign. A useful approach is to start from the very beginning and write down every step you will need to complete for the campaign. Some phases to keep in mind:
- Planning and creating the campaign (working with your staff, board members and other internal stakeholders)
- Launching the campaign (getting the word out about what you’re doing)
- Promoting the campaign (keeping the momentum going)
- Recruiting and coaching participants
- Wrapping up the campaign (sending thank yous, asking for feedback and analyzing results to inform your next campaign)
Think about who you plan to engage with during the campaign. Audiences might include:
- Board members — to help with outreach and fundraising
- Staff members — to build and coordinate the campaign
- Volunteers — helpers in executing campaigns and events
- Existing donors — the people most likely to donate and spread the word
- Past participants — the people most likely to participate again and recruit other participants
- Community members — individuals or organizations who can help get the word out about the campaign
- The general public — people you don’t even know yet who might want to support your campaign
- Participants — people who have registered to raise funds through the campaign
Now that you know the “why” and the “who” for your communications plan, determine the “what” — the messages you want to send to each audience for each step in the campaign. For example:
- For past participants or other potential participants:
- Register or make a donation for the campaign
- Personal story from a past participant (consider using a video here for higher engagement)
- For registered participants:
- Discount codes or incentives that participants can use to register or earn when they reach a certain fundraising level
- Fundraising tips to ensure participants’ success
That brings us to the “how.” Consider how to send each message to your various audiences. Communications channels can include your organization’s own existing channels, such as
email and direct mail outreach. They also can include external channels such as TV, newspaper and social media.
Here’s a checklist of common channels to use for promoting peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and events:
- Homepage ad
- Landing page or microsite with a registration page
- Direct mail
- Member or donor newsletters/magazines
- Social media
- Print materials (posters, flyers, postcards, etc.)
- Public service announcements and local news coverage (TV, radio, newspaper)
- Print and online ads
- Phone (Yes, phone! This can be a highly effective personal touch in a peer-to-peer campaign. For example, call the top 10 fundraisers from your last peer-to-peer campaign to let them know how grateful you are for their ongoing support and ask if they would be willing to participate again.)
And finally, the “when.” A communications calendar is an essential piece of every campaign.
To start your calendar, write down the date of the last communication you’ll send for your campaign, and then work backward to add the other communications and prep work you’ll need to complete leading up to that last communication.
Putting together your communications calendar doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple Word document or Excel spreadsheet can do the trick. An easy way to organize it is by each channel that you will use to disseminate your message; for instance: email, printed outreach (magazines, postcards, flyers), purchased advertisements and social media. Here’s a simple template to make getting started even easier.
Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008 to help nonprofit organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits.
Mark also serves on the editorial advisory board for NonProfit PRO, where he contributes monthly to his blog, “Nonprofit Tech Matters.”