In the 400-odd days since Donald Trump’s inauguration, fundraising in the nonprofit space has been more competitive and chaotic than ever before. Labeled the “Trump Bump,” organizations across the political and apolitical spectrum have seen a surge in donations since the moment Trump took the oath of office.
On the one hand, that’s incredible. Nonprofit organizations getting more attention – and more money – can only be a good thing that benefits us all, right?
But on the other, this new world makes it drastically harder for deserving causes to get the attention they deserve amid a sea of distractions.
Believe me. I get it.
That’s where creating your own advocacy moment comes in. With so much competition, organizations can no longer rely on #GivingTuesday or year-end pushes to meet their fundraising marks. Instead, in this increasingly crowded space, groups now need to brainstorm, plot out, and execute their own “moments” throughout the year to break through the noise and hit their goals.
What do I mean by a moment? A moment is a day, a week, a month – the duration itself isn’t important – that has a specific, special meaning for your organization and its mission. Two quick examples: Earth Day for an environmentally focused group, or Women’s History Month for an organization committed to electing more women to office.
Of course, the trick is to then turn this moment into a fundraising boon.
It’s not easy, no. But it’s essential if you want to stand out in this ever-crowded space. So here are just three steps you can take to create your own advocacy fundraising moment:
Using Action-Oriented Communication to Prime Your Moment
Whether it’s through a survey or a petition, a photo submission contest or Facebook Live, organizations looking to fundraise should be communicating with supporters with the specific goal of driving them to take action.
Now, it’s important to stay true to your organization. If you’re a group focused on government ethics, it may not make sense to ask for photo submissions; if you’re a conservation group, it would. Your organization’s mission is your North Star: Let it guide you toward developing meaningful interactions with your users.
Throughout this step, donations aren’t the primary goal just yet. You’re laying the groundwork, getting supporters increasingly invested in your cause and showing them just how easy it is to take ownership of your cause and action to help your movement.
Basically, you’re priming the pump. When someone is already in the mindset of caring about your work, convincing them to give is that much easier.
In other words, by asking supporters to add their names to a petition before Earth Day to stop deforestation in the Amazon, you’re not only convincing them to take an action that supports your mission. You’re preparing them to take the next step – giving $15 – as well.
Optimizing Your Moment
Once you have a plan for how you’re going to engage with your base and prime them to give, you’ll need to test – and test a lot. Optimizing will help you figure out what calls to action, issues, graphics, ads, social posts, or even sender lines will best resonate with your supporters.
Test – and then re-test – even your most basic assumptions. Crunch the numbers. Analyze the data. And don’t be afraid to challenge those initial assumptions, change paths and let the results lead you to new strategies.
Then, when you’ve found something that gets a good response, keep iterating it. That’s the holy grail: Your audience is reacting how you want it to react, and you’re finally in the best possible position to take the final step toward fundraising:
Creating Your Moment
By now, you’ve shored up your audience’s trust and engagement. They’ve pledged their support for an issue related to your cause. They’ve signed a petition demanding action. They’ve taken the time to get more invested in your movement. Now, your moment is finally here. It’s time for the fundraising ask.
Naturally, moments take different forms at different times. Sometimes, it’ll be through rapid response, as your organization pairs an advocacy alert with an urgent fundraising ask after a big event breaks that affects your organization’s mission.
Though rapid response campaigns are (necessarily) more hurried, the work you’ve done priming your audience will ensure that they’re ready to give when the moment comes and the ask is made.
But most other times, your picture-perfect fundraising moment should be conceived of, crafted and fine-tuned by your organization months before the first dollar is ever raised. You’ll have picked a time with relevance to your cause and created the opportunity for yourself, building on successful messaging campaigns you’ve previously tested and your audience has already dived into more deeply.
In 2018, in this post-Trump Bump world, organizations have to be nimble, combining different tactics and cultivating for themselves a variety of fundraising opportunities that best serve their missions.
It takes work, that much is clear. But if you’ve put in the time and energy to engage your audience, prime your list, test your strategy, and take advantage of specific, meaningful moments, you will break through the noise and stand out from the competition.
You’ll have created a fundraising campaign that’s inherently your own – and that moment will help reignite your movement.
WEBINAR: Create Your Own Fundraising Moment
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please register here for my webinar with Blackbaud and consultant Caroline Stuart-Freas, Create Your Own Fundraising Moment, which will take place this Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
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