August 14, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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If you’re in fundraising development, you might not have “marketing” in your title, but your goals are largely the same as any for-profit marketing team: find people who would want to support your organization, and then persuade them to act.
We’ll walk you through how the marketing team at DonorPerfect plans a typical campaign so you can find new ways to plan and execute your fundraising strategy.
It’s important to start with the simplest question: what are you trying to achieve? New donor acquisition? Funding for a special project? A mid-level donor development campaign? An end of year annual appeal? Know what outcome you are trying to achieve before you take any further action.
Know what you and your team can actually do. Set goals that your team can realistically accomplish based on the time commitment, budget, season, and person power you are able to put toward this effort.
What you can do: Keep a running backlog of campaign ideas and do some preliminary cost/benefit analysis to help you put them in priority order. Start by trying to estimate the amount of value you believe a campaign could generate and estimate the amount of money, effort, and time it will take to execute.
One of the marketing maxums that we all try to follow is targeting the right people with the right message at the right time. To do so, you need to know who your target audience is.
Begin by researching your current donors. What demographics do they fall into and characteristics do they share, such as age, gender, geography, income, profession, etc.? What if all you have is someone’s email address from a GoFundMe campaign? These are delicate facts to uncover, so there are many ways you can append this information without having to ask. Some internet research and a little persistence can help you find the basics, and our prospect research solutions such as DonorSearch or iWave can append even more philanthropic data about your donors. You may be able to get a lot more money out of your current donors than you realize.
What you can do: Start researching your donors and putting the additional data points you uncover in the donor record in your CRM system or spreadsheet. Look for patterns and commonalities among your donor base.
As many marketers do now, including our team at DonorPerfect, we raise awareness for our product via content marketing, where topics related to peoples’ goals and challenges are written to educate users and potential users on solutions to the problems they’re researching. For example, we wrote The COVID-19 Fundraising Template Kit and A Guide to Fundraising in the New Normal to help nonprofits with ideas and suggestions for fundraising in the new virtual world due to COVID-19.
Build your campaign around a compelling core asset: something that can be consumed and shared by your audience. Your core asset could be a video, a PDF, a web page, a podcast, or even your social media feed. You want to create a powerful first impression with a new potential donor and motivate your existing donors to continue their support. Focus on the outcomes of your work and highlight the multiple ways that people can support your mission through volunteering, making a donation, becoming a sustaining donor, joining a crowdfunding campaign, attending a live or virtual event, or getting involved in countless other ways.
And never forget how important visual communications are! People scan first, linger on images that evoke emotion, and have ever shortening attention spans. Tell a story that makes your audience need to keep reading or listening or watching.
What you can do: create a vibrant video, PDF, or web page about your mission and the impact of the work you do that compels your supporters to take action. There are free video editing tools and presentation templates and stock images online that will help you look like a pro in no time. Short on staff? Google freelancers in your area or ask your network of volunteers and supporters for writers, graphic designers, and people with experience in areas like email and social media.
When someone finds your web page organically through a Google search, for example, content marketers do a little dance of joy. We post about our content asset on our blog and make sure to use techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) so it appears in your results on Google, Bing, etc. if you search for solutions to this problem. To make sure you don’t miss it in your search, we pay Google and Bing using Search Engine Marketing (SEM) so an ad appears at the top when you search for terms we thought you might use when you’re looking for help with this topic.
For fundraisers, think about your content as a magnet that attracts people searching for ways to solve the same problem you are. You want to find the people who share your passion and who are motivated to search for solutions. By optimizing your website or blog content for search, you will create what we call discoverability, and the people who search/find your organization will become a rich target pool of potential future donors.
What you can do: There are many technical and stylistic techniques to create search-friendly content. Start by reading up on some SEO best practices and reach out to your network to see if anyone has SEO/SEM experience that might be willing to volunteer to support your organization.
Getting the word out is not one thing, it’s a multichannel, multi-touch experience. Plan out your communications strategy across all of your channels – email, social, website, direct mail, text message, etc. – so you have the greatest impact on your donors and prospects.
For example, you might share your content piece via email as your first step. Then perhaps you schedule a webinar for your CEO or Director of Development to give a live presentation of the same story, perhaps with a guest who felt the impact of your mission. Of course you will want to share the registration link for the webinar on your social media channels, and don’t forget to record the session and post it afterwards for people to view on their own schedule.
Consider a remarketing campaign to keep your message in front of recent visitors to your website. A small investment in banner advertising can get a second impression in front of people when they visit their favorite websites around the Internet.
What you can do: Nonprofits can take advantage of discounts on many products and services, including online advertising with Google. Google Grants offers $10,000 of in-kind advertising every month from Google Ads to nonprofits.
The best source of new sales is word of mouth from our happy customers. If we keep our customers happy, they share our content, they give our product a positive review to colleagues and peers in the space.
Ask a board member or major donor to sponsor the content campaign. Share content to key members of your community with a personal note – or video message!
What you can do: Tap into your donor database:
Reporting on your campaign metrics not only establishes how successful you were in your fundraising efforts, but also gives you the opportunity to learn from what worked well and what didn’t quite succeed.
As a marketing team, we focus on key performance indicators like website visits and content downloads, email opens and clicks, leads generated, likes/shares/follows, and attendance at webinars. Those same metrics apply to your fundraising campaign as well, and the key is to establish a regular cadence of measurement and analysis following your campaigns.
Define the most important metrics for your organization and establish baselines. When you run a campaign, compare your metrics to the baseline to see what is over-performing and under-performing, then meet as a team to discuss what can be done differently and better the next time. Remember: there’s no “perfect” and the work is never “done.” Just keep improving!
What you can do: Establish baseline metrics for your communication channels: website, email, and social media to start. Know what your data looks like under normal conditions so when you apply some extra effort you can see the impact of your work.
From our team to yours, we appreciate the work that you do, and we hope these tips help you generate successful results for your next fundraising campaign.