Special thanks to Brian Winters at Adcieo for authoring this guest post. We’re looking forward to the webinar Brian!

When creating any fundraising campaign there are two items that should always be on your short list list. In fact, without the two we’ll cover in this post you’re guaranteed to finish your campaign, review the results, and be left wanting. So, what are the 2 key elements of successful fundraising campaigns?

1) A multi-channel approach to engagement

2) A strong communication strategy

These two things are building blocks that lead to long term sustained growth and a deeper connection between you and your  constituents. Oh, and improved fundraising results.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each.


Multi-Channel Engagement

“Donor” is a very loose term that describes an enormous group of people. There are three levels of engagement that an individual goes through: Casual, Connected and Committed. As of now we have four active generations (Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen-X, Millenials) making contributions. Each generation requires a different type of engagement to move from the casual to committed relationship with an organization.

Remember, no one is strictly using one communication tool and we as fundraisers must make a point of being wherever the donor is with the information they need.

Due to the everyday demands on staff and volunteers, organizations must effectively use “one to many” engagement vehicles.

  • Branding: No matter what communications are going out – everything should be consistently branded! Put together a style guide that contains the organization’s logo, font types, font sizes and specifications around the use of the logo. This gives staff an easy-to-use reference guide and reduces inconsistencies.
  • Print: Direct mail is far from dead. The majority of gifts are still received offline and with an integrated approach the average donor value is shown to be higher.
  • Email: No one can deny that email is an effective way to reach donors. In 2010, Komen Maryland strategically sent 103 email messages to constituents over 140 days. The results were astounding – the 2010 Race for the Cure® brought in more than $3 million through an evaluation by a third-party returned positive feedback on the frequency and quality of messaging.
  • Web: An up-to-date website that provides information about your organization is vital. Take time to add regular news items, showcase sponsors, volunteers and donors, and make sure contact information is easy to locate and accurate.
  • Social Media: If you don’t have time for Facebook and Twitter… you need an intern! Creating a page is only the first step in connecting with your supporters. It’s necessary to update your pages at least once a week with happenings within the organization. Also make an effort to connect with the supporters that are following your page.


Communication Strategy

Crafting a strong communication strategy is the driving force behind a successful fundraising campaign – especially in the event fundraising space. There are a lot of moving pieces and it’s necessary to be aware of them all.

  • Must Have Items: Every email sent should be branded, have a call to action that is visible in the first paragraph of the message, social media links and personalization.
  • Timing: Time your emails and print mailings to go out in a consistent manner.
  • Incentives: Give a little to get a lot. When asking your supporters to fundraise for the organization it is great to give a little something back.
  • Resend: Email campaigns can be structured as an automatic resend with a duplicate of the original email being sent with a fresh subject line or revised content.

The thing to remember is that all of the items are achievable even with limited time and resources. Create your mailing schedule in a spreadsheet that can be shared with those involved. Outline when messages will send, recipients, subjects, fundraising challenges, incentives and the call to action. Track your open, click and unsubscribe rates for each email sent. You’ll be able to spot patterns in giving and message impact across the board.

The last thing that must be done when any fundraising campaign or event comes to an end – the thank you! Thank all of your supporters for their volunteered time, energy and every penny they gave to the cause. Saying thank you in an authentic manner goes a long way.




Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, helps nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising so they can focus changing the world. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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