September 20, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Many people who start fundraisers merely strive to get noticed locally. In many cases, this is the best they can hope for. Every now and then, however, a lucky social warrior will hit the jackpot when their cause gets widespread attention. While there’s no guaranteed step-by-step manual on how to make your fundraising campaign go viral, the following steps have often proven successful.
No matter how perfectly you follow steps 2 through 5, there’s little chance that your fundraiser will go viral if you don’t tell a heartfelt story. First and foremost, you have to make people care. You do this by appealing to their emotions.
In 2015, a fundraiser focusing on finding a cure for a degenerative brain disease raised nearly $2 million in a year. How did they do this? They created a video showing a happy 4-year-old girl who was living with the disease.
If you tell your story and appeal to people’s emotions, your viral fundraiser’s foundation is set.
Having a “hook” increases your fundraiser’s chances of success. A hook is something that adds a level of fun to the cause so that people are excited to get involved and share it.
One need only look at the insanely successful ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Just by telling people to pour ice water over their heads and challenge others to, over $100 million was raised to ALS. Think of something that makes people excited to get involved and that’s exactly what they’ll do.
Appealing to people’s emotions is great, but relating a cause to the audience might be even better for making a fundraiser go viral. When people saw the video of bus monitor Karen Klein crying over being berated by unruly middle schoolers, they immediately remembered any bullying they suffered in their lives.
That simple fact helped the “Making the Bus Monitor Cry” campaign raise over $700,000. Klein founded an anti-bullying foundation with the money. Whether you remind everyone that they have aging relatives, speak of the difficulties of bullying, or just show an extraordinarily popular actor suffering from the disease a fundraiser focuses on, you need to draw some connection to people’s lives.
Even if you find a crystal ball that tells you exactly how to make a fundraiser go viral, you will probably still fail if people can’t easily donate to the cause. It needs to be as simple as filling out a few spaces, entering their payment information and clicking “Submit.”
Fortunately, all you have to do in this situation is not actively make things difficult. If you’re using fundraising software like DonorPerfect, your can post your donation form online for easy access and all donor and gift information will flow right into your DonorPerfect system. By placing your donation form in the right spots, a simple click of a button will send people right where they need to be to make a donation.
A growing trend in promotional business strategies is influencer marketing. This occurs when businesses reach out to trusted sources to share their content. You won’t always be successful in this endeavor, but if you manage to pull off this single step, virality is almost a given.
For example, if you’re raising money for childhood cancer research, you could tweet a link to an actor whose child is a cancer survivor. Just looking for donations to send Girl Scouts to camp? Find a local — or national, if you want to think bigger — celebrity who was in the scouts. Gaining support from a well-known source can do great things for a campaign.
Following all of these tips doesn’t necessarily mean your fundraiser will go viral. In the online world, there simply are no guarantees. If you keep trying and continue utilizing these strategies, though, you have a good chance of success.