This guide will cover the fundamentals of fundraising campaigns.

The Fundamentals of Fundraising Campaign Planning: A Guide

Picture this: your nonprofit is getting ready for the end-of-year giving season. To capitalize on your donors’ charitable spirits, you’ve optimized your donation page, gotten your social media in tip-top shape, but something is still missing. You quickly realize that you need to design an engaging year-end fundraising campaign that draws donors into your mission, but you’re not quite sure how.

Brainstorming and planning a compelling fundraising campaign at any time of the year can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re working with a limited budget and small team. However, with the right strategies and tech stack, your nonprofit can pull off a donor-centric campaign that will meet (and even exceed!) your fundraising goals.

Follow these expert steps to put together a winning fundraising campaign:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Craft your messaging
  3. Invest in the right software

A successful fundraising campaign can help your nonprofit establish a reliable donation pipeline, reach new audiences, and foster stronger relationships with donors. Before you can tap into these key benefits, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan. Let’s begin.

1. Set clear goals

To give your nonprofit direction as you plan your fundraising campaign and foster accountability across your team, you need to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals. Using this goal setting framework will help you create a clear picture of what you want to achieve from your fundraiser and how you will achieve it.

For example, let’s say one of your nonprofit’s primary goals is to expand your reach and attract new donors. Here’s what this goal could look like as a SMART goal:

  • Specific: Our nonprofit will lead a robust nonprofit marketing strategy to get the word out about our fundraising campaign to new audiences. Specifically, we’ll post on social media three times a week to promote our fundraising campaign or event, share deadlines, and communicate our goal. Plus, we’ll host exciting social media contests and pair our social media posts with relevant hashtags to reach new audiences.
  • Measurable: Our goal is to increase our donor acquisition rate by 10%.
  • Attainable: When we started to produce more engaging social media content on a once-a-week basis, we were able to increase our donor acquisition rate by 5%. A 10% boost in our donor acquisition rate therefore seems within our grasp, especially since we’ll be regularly creating social media content tailored to our target audience.
  • Relevant: Increasing our donor acquisition rate helps to expand our donor base and moves us closer to reaching our fundraising goal. With a strong stewardship plan, we can push these donors up the giving pyramid towards more frequent and higher-impact gifts.
  • Time-bound: We will begin generating social media content about our upcoming campaign two weeks before it starts and aim to achieve a 10% increase in donor acquisition by the campaign’s conclusion. We’ll hold a check-in meeting to assess our progress at the halfway point of our campaign.

Make sure to lay out the timeline for your campaign and identify the point-people who will be in charge of leading your different projects—from generating your marketing materials to executing your donor recognition strategy. This will help to rally your team around your goals and ensure everyone has a clear understanding of their roles.

Your goals will also help you pinpoint the right type of fundraising campaign for your nonprofit. For example, if your goal is to expand your network of donors, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign can be the perfect way to attract new supporters and strengthen relationships with existing ones.

Or, maybe your nonprofit is looking for a way to increase visibility around the problem you’re tackling, making an awareness campaign a great option. Aligning your goals with the right type of fundraising campaign will make it more likely that you’ll see them through.

2. Craft your messaging

Once you’ve mapped out what kind of fundraising campaign you’ll host and you’ve determined your SMART goals, it’s time to craft your campaign messaging. Your marketing and communication strategy will play a huge role in the success of your fundraising campaign, so it’s critical that you develop compelling messaging that will inspire supporters to give.

Use these tips to create the right messaging for your campaign:

  • Infuse your branding: Your branding communicates who you are to new supporters and what your organization stands for. Plus, attaching your branding to your campaign helps to boost trust and show that this campaign is being hosted by your organization. The OneCause guide to nonprofit marketing plans explains that your nonprofit needs to use both your verbal and visual branding elements when promoting your upcoming campaigns. Your verbal branding refers to the way you describe your mission and your tone, while your visual branding (such as your color scheme and logo) makes your messaging more lively to engage with. Refer to your branding guidelines so your campaign messaging is consistent with the rest of your nonprofit’s communications.
  • Leverage storytelling: Storytelling can help you emotionally connect with supporters and demonstrate how donations will drive tangible change in your community. For example, an animal welfare organization might tell the story of a dog from a hoarding incident that they successfully rehabilitated and rehomed. End your story by explaining how the donations from your fundraising campaign will enable your organization to help even more people (or animals) in your community.
  • Create a clear call to action: Supporters will wonder how they can get involved in your campaign, whether by creating their own personal fundraising page, donating, or signing a petition. Clearly define the next step supporters should take and provide relevant links so they can act on your requests with ease. You should also create a sense of urgency by using time-bound language, such as saying “Donate by midnight to have your gift matched!” This will increase the likelihood that supporters will act on your requests as soon as they read them.
  • Align your messaging across different platforms: A multichannel marketing strategy helps you create multiple touchpoints with supporters, keeping your campaign top of mind. Ensure your fundraising communications across different platforms maintain your core messaging and branding so supporters have a clear understanding of your campaign’s purpose and how to help.

As you craft your messaging, remember to consider your target audience’s interests and values so you can frame your communications to them. This way, your calls to action will be more likely to resonate with donors and prompt giving.

3. Invest in the right software

Rather than haphazardly piecemealing multiple fundraising tools together, work with an all-in-one fundraising solution to manage your campaign. A comprehensive fundraising platform will provide your nonprofit with everything it needs to plan and execute fundraisers of all types and formats.

Invest in a platform with the following key features:

  • Online fundraising: Your software should empower your nonprofit to create and customize online donation forms, develop a branded fundraising microsite in just moments, and drive giving with built-in gamification tools. Backed by these features, you can create a seamless online giving experience that will allow donors to give to your campaign anywhere and anytime.
  • Event management: To maximize your fundraising campaign’s engagement, you might pair it with an exciting in-person, online, or hybrid event. Look for a fundraising solution that helps your nonprofit host live-streams with ease, manage RSVPs, and facilitate simple event check-in and out with mobile tools.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising: Thinking of handing the fundraising reins over to your loyal supporters? Re:Charity’s guide to fundraising software recommends investing in a solution that empowers supporters to easily create their own personal fundraising pages (customized to their preferences) and share them widely online using social media integrations.
  • Text-to-give: With people on their phones more than ever before, you need a way to break through the noise online and reach your supporters directly with your fundraising requests and updates. Leverage a fundraising solution with text-to-give capabilities so you can capture donations year-round and keep donors tapped into your organization.
  • Auction management tools: Ending your fundraising campaign with an auction is a great way to create an unforgettable donor experience and bring in significant funds. Your software should come with auction features like mobile bidding, leadership scoreboards, real-time analytics, and more to take your auctions up a notch.

Investing in a sound fundraising platform might sound costly, but the right solution will provide value to your organization year over year, earning you a high ROI. Do your research to find a comprehensive platform suited to your nonprofit’s needs.

Running a well-designed fundraising campaign doesn’t have to be difficult. These tips will provide your organization with the necessary foundation to bring your campaign to life, but make sure to regularly assess your fundraising progress and make changes to your strategy as needed to maximize your funding. Once your campaign concludes, remember to thank your donors so you can retain their support for your next fundraiser.