7 Online Fundraiser Tips I Learned during Movember | npENGAGE

7 Online Fundraiser Tips I Learned during Movember

By on Dec 1, 2015


Online Fundraiser Tips I Learned from my participation in Movember

I participated in Movember: a worldwide team online fundraiser to fight men’s cancer. While the do-gooder in me loves a great cause, I also relish the opportunity to learn more online fundraising tips and why people give. It was interesting seeing which platform (Facebook, Twitter, email, face-to-face, etc.) was the most effective, and what type of message generated the most giving. So now that it’s over, I wanted to share some thoughts that might help you or your nonprofit launch your next campaign.

Wait, Go Back: What is Movember Again?

Movember is an online fundraiser that challenges men to change their appearance by growing a mustache. The rules are simple: start November 1st clean-shaven and then grow a mustache for the entire month. The mustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. For most men, growing a mustache generates a lot of comments, conversation, and laughter – which is the point! Money is raised by participants and goes directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong Foundation.

Using Movember.com as a home base, participants are encouraged to use their email contacts, work colleagues, social networks, and any other means to promote the cause and raise money. The entire campaign is run online, giving participants a great place to experiment with some different fundraising and communication tactics.

7 Online Fundraiser Tips I Learned from Movember:

  • Email is Still King
    I know social media is bright shiny,  but it’s still playing second fiddle to email when it comes to soliciting online donations. While my initial social media campaign generated plenty of interest and a few donations, I was shocked at how quickly people responded to my email. Within 20 minutes of sending the first email I had 5 donations, and another 5 by the next morning. And the average gift was larger.
  • Segmentation Matters
    Part of the reason my email campaign was successful was because I had carefully selected my list of recipients. While my email list included some of the social media friends I was already reaching via other channels, it contained mostly relatives, parent’s friends, and classmates who typically do not see my Twitter and Facebook activity. Make sure you are segmenting your audience when sending out communications – different strokes for different folks!
  • Multimedia Tells the Story
    Early on, it became clear that photos and videos could make or break a Movember campaign. When I posted an updated pic on Facebook, I received a lot of likes and comments, but also a donation or two. A heavily commented photo will show up in people’s news feeds (because of all the activity), which can really help promote the message. I could post photos on my giving page, via the Movember iPhone app, and we were definitely encouraged to use them on Twitter and everywhere else. If photos and videos can help tell your campaign’s story, make sure they are front and center and available to your supporters.
  • Sample Communications Really Help
    For most fundraising event participants like me, asking for donations can be a bit awkward. Movember did a really good job of providing sample text for emails, pre-written tweets, and great facts  to use in Facebook status updates. These examples really helped get the ball rolling in early November, and I was very thankful they were there. So if you’re doing a team fundraising event, advocacy campaign, or anything where you’re asking supporters to reach out to their networks, be sure to provide some sample emails, tweets, and Facebook updates on your website.
  • Donors Like Milestones and Rewards
    One of the most effective tactics was to promise a reward to my supporters if I met intermediate goals. For instance, I promised to change my Facebook avatar to one featuring my baby mustache if I hit the $250 mark by the end of the day – it worked. Lots of my fellow Mo bros had the same experience – they teased their supporters and rewarded them when they gave.
  • People Give for Different Reasons
    It seems like people are motivated to give for very different reasons. Some people gave to my campaign because of a family member who had prostate cancer, while others gave because they wanted to support me. One person gave me $100 just because I shot her a funny look when she asked to see my stache. The point is that you have to really think about who your audience is and what makes them want to give. Then draft you online communications to resonate with those audiences.
  • Peer to Peer Technology is Key
    The entire Movember experience would have been challenging if it wasn’t for their great website and fundraising platform. Having the user experience nailed down is critical to the success of an online campaign, and solid technology is a big a part of that. Think through your goals and tech needs before planning your campaign, and make sure everything is tested and ready to go when it begins.

I know to most of you experienced online fundraisers that stuff may seem basic, but they are good reminders of best practices we can all use in our online fundraising campaigns. And while online giving only accounts for ~7% of total giving, its importance will only increase in the future. The nonprofits that know how to reach an online audience and make them act will  be the most successful.

Do you have any online fundraiser tips you’d like to share?

*This post has been updated to reflect the most recent best practices and advice.


Comments (6)

  • Sandy Wilder says:

    GREAT stuff, Chad!!! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your success!

    • Chad Norman says:

      Thanks Sandy – it was a very rewarding experience on many levels, and I learned a lot. Though, I’m excited to not be growing any facial hair again for 11 months!

  • jeffachen says:

    Thanks for a succinct recap of the lessons learned. We just wrapped up a very successful one day online giving challenge in Minnesota–Give to the Max Day–and generally learned many of the same lessons.

    Although email is still king, we did find that a significantly higher number of our visits came from Facebook than from those links distributed via email. (Facebook = 21,865; Linked from an email = 5,966) We found that a few particular nonprofits had disproportionately high numbers of followers on Facebook who were extremely active on their page and therefore in their cause. Social media became a huge factor in their success and delivered a lot of visits to the Give to the Max Day homepage.

    I also strongly agree that good technology is key. I’d like to plug our platform creators, Razoo.com for creating amazing tools and an simple, elegant website for GiveMN.org!

    • Chad Norman says:

      Great comments Jeff, thanks for sharing. I agree that social media drives more traffic – I’ve seen that in my metrics as well. Visits are one things, but conversions are another. I definitely had a higher conversion rate per impression via email. I think this is just because the relationships are stronger with those on my email list verses social media. Though, I think this may change over time…

  • petercrowe says:

    Raise funds sitting at your place. Really an owesome feeling!!!

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