How To Successfully Launch A Digital Fundraising Campaign For Your Nonprofit

Julia Claire Campbell Fundraising, Nonprofits, Online Fundraising Leave a Comment

This post is a guest blog by Candace Cody of CauseVox

On April 27, Candace Cody of CauseVox and I will be holding a free nonprofit webinar: Digital Fundraising 101: How To Get A Fundraiser Off The Ground + Make It Successful – sign up and secure your spot!

While digital fundraising strategy used to be a nice-to-have, now it’s an essential part of every organization’s strategy.

Things that used to be done offline, have now all moved online – such as shopping, banking and ordering food – and fundraising is no different.

And so as an organization, we need to be where our people are – online.

Channels like direct mail are still important, however, more and more people are coming online to donate every year. 

The best digital fundraisers are often the best digital marketers – the two go hand in hand, and the strategies that work in the digital marketing world are also applicable in the digital fundraising world.

Digital fundraising is all about building a community and raising money online – while it follows a lot of the same principles as offline fundraising, it is not a “project” or “appeal” style approach.

Just like digital marketing, digital fundraising is about reaching the right person, at the right time, with the right message. Through digital, you can target specific people with specific messages, and really personalize the donor experience.

This is what we call the Digital Fundraising Cycle:

What is Digital Fundraising?

If you want to be successful in the virtual space, it’s important to understand that you’re always working on one element of this cycle (and sometimes more than one).

If you’re new to the world of digital fundraising but you’re ready to start your first campaign, you might feel like this is overwhelming. How do you take that cycle and put it into action? We’re here to answer that question. This guide will walk you through every step of the process. Let’s take a look.

Before The Campaign

Before you step into the digital fundraising cycle, it’s important to gain a working knowledge of some virtual fundraising basics. The first thing to think about is what type of campaign you’d like to run. There are two basic styles:

Digital Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Digital Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

If you didn’t know, peer-to-peer fundraising (also commonly referred to as “p2p”) is an opportunity to leverage your supporters’ personal networks to increase visibility and engagement for your cause. Your supporters reach out to their networks and ask for donations.

Through peer to peer, there’s a high potential for return. Because your fundraisers are using their own friends and families, you have a chance to reach donors that are outside of your networks.

Digital Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Pros of peer-to-peer fundraising:

  • Chance for exponential growth
  • You can pass off some of the workload to supporters
  • Expands your networks

Cons: You need committed supporters to act as fundraisers or it just doesn’t work

Crowdfunding-Style Fundraiser

In contrast to peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding is when your organization asks a large number of your supporters directly to give to a project or cause. It works best when you have a specific project or campaign with a clear deadline so that you can count down with your supporters.

Crowdfunding-Style Fundraiser

Pros for crowdfunding: 

  • It’s easy to set up
  • You’re in control of everything
  • You can add things like incentives, tiered donation levels, and niche content

Cons: You have to rely on your own digital marketing skills to get the word out.

Pick Your Software

Now that you know the types of fundraisers, you can choose the one that will be best for you. Now it’s time to choose the software you’re going to use. This is perhaps the most important step because the software will determine how easy it is for your donors to donate, your fundraisers to set up a page, and for you to manage your data afterwards.

Here are a few important things to look for when you’re making your choice.

Your Branding

Part of creating a high-performing fundraising campaign page is picking a tool that allows you to visually show off your brand. Let’s say a big part of your fundraising strategy is visual storytelling. You’ll definitely want a platform which makes it easy to blend visual elements through your pages as flexibly and dynamically as possible. 

On top of that, you want to make sure that your logos, images, fonts, and colors are front and center on your page so that donors know it’s you right off the bat.

A study found that 70% of people are more likely to give again if they gave on a branded donation page the first time. Software that is flexible enough to allow you to set up your page the way you want it is key.

Avoid The Clunk And Keep it Simple

The worst thing you can do for your digital fundraising page is set something up that is confusing, overly full, takes forever to sift through, and leaves donors and fundraisers frustrated. 

If you’re doing a peer-to-peer fundraiser, you want your supporters to be able to set up their page in just a few minutes on any device. 

peer-to-peer fundraiser

For your donors, you want a fast and simple donation process that will keep your donors moving quickly forward. Hubspot found that when a form went from four fields to three fields conversion rates increased by 50%. Simple, fast donation forms are where it’s at.

Make Sure The Admin Side is Easier Too!

The simplicity of the management side of your fundraising platform is just as important as the forward facing side. You don’t want to waste your time sifting through minute details, potentially making mistakes, and getting frustrated.

It’s important to find a platform which allows you to perform administrative tasks easily, quickly and with minimal chance of error.

Digital fundraising

Here are some things to look for:

  • View real-time fundraising insights from a simple dashboard.
  • Automate outgoing emails and donation receipts.
  • Clone existing crowdfunding campaigns with a few clicks.
  • Access technical support while designing your campaign. 

Once you’ve found the right software for you, it’s time to get ready for your launch!

Build Out Your Campaign 

Now that you have software chosen and you know where you’re going to run your campaign, it’s time to start setting things up. Before you let any donors or peer-to-peer fundraisers near your page you want to make sure you have all the information available and easy to find. Here are the elements you should create before your launch.

Set Your Digital Fundraiser Goals

First, pick a timeline: when is your fundraising period going to take place? This helps to create urgency for donors. 

Second, set a goal. This could be a monetary goal, but you could also have a goal to get a specific number of donors, a number of recurring donors, or another type of goal. Remember to create something that’s realistic, measurable, and can fit within the timeframe you set.

Create Your Fundraising Appeal

Now it’s time to start writing the copy that will live on your fundraising page. The largest and most important part of this is the fundraising appeal. Start with a story that will draw your donors in. Who are they helping and how? What is this specific campaign for? What do you want them to do?

Digital fundraising appeal

This is the moment where you really connect with your potential donors, so make sure that at its heart it has emotions. It’s easy to get bogged down in including information about fundraising incentives, day of event logistics, or cute and punny language. Don’t get distracted from the real goal here: raising money to make the world a better place.

Create Your Other Campaign Assets

From here, build out the other elements on your campaign page. These include:

  • Images and videos that help to illustrate your story
  • A peer-to-peer fundraising toolkit
  • A gorgeous thank you letter that goes out when your donors give
  • Donation tiers that help describe to your donors how their gift will be used
  • A large and easy to find donate button

A large and easy to find donate button

Promoting Your Campaign

Now’s the time to start sharing far and wide! There are a few strategies to promoting your campaign that we’ll look at here, but know that you can dive deep into tons of ways to promote your digital fundraiser. Here are our favorite promotional strategies.

Soft Launch

Very simply, a soft launch is sharing your fundraising campaign with some hand-picked supporters before you push it out to your larger networks. This builds early activity on your campaign that shows your wider network of donors that you have support, and creates momentum.

The key is really to target your strongest supporters – those who you expect will make a donation – and ask them to give specifically to the campaign. Think board members, volunteers, long time donors, or other folks who have been consistent supporters. 

Reach out to them directly and ask them to donate or become fundraisers. This creates some social proof for when you do your full launch and makes other donors more likely to give.

Multi Channel Communication

One of the biggest benefits of virtual fundraising is that you have a multitude of channels at your fingertips. You want to make sure you take advantage of that! When you build your communication plan, think about how you’ll use email, social media, phone calls, in-person contact, and ads to reach your audience.

This is also where segmentation can come into play. Segmentation is simply using information you have about donors to split them up and market more effectively to each group. If you have a large number of people you know follow you on social media and you know they tend to be more into videos, focus your video campaign on social. In contrast, if you know your email list is made up of people who like longform stories, add in some good impact stories when you send out an email. Personalization is key.

Follow Up

When that final end date of your campaign arrives, your work isn’t over yet. Now is time to circle back around to the beginning of the digital fundraising cycle and start building up the relationships you’ve started with your new donors. 

You know this, but just to reiterate: thank your donors! According to GuideStar, thanking your donors within 48 hours will make them 400% more likely to give again. 

Once you’ve thanked your donors, make sure you stay in touch. The most effective time to ask for a second donation is within 90 days of the first donation. Consider creating an email nurture series that sends to all new donors with information about your organization and opportunities to connect that culminates with your second ask.

As you build your relationship with these donors, consider launching a campaign to ask for recurring gifts. This is a wonderful way to increase donor retention (a lot) and gives you another chance to reach out.

And with that, you’re done! You’ve run your digital fundraising campaign.

On April 27, Candace Cody of CauseVox and I will be holding a free nonprofit webinar: Digital Fundraising 101: How To Get A Fundraiser Off The Ground + Make It Successful – sign up and secure your spot!

About the Author: Candace Cody is the Manager of Content + Education at CauseVox. Over the past 6 years, she’s worked with thousands of nonprofit professionals to help them adopt and grow digital fundraising at their organization. 

What do successful online fundraising campaigns have in common?

They have specific, achievable goals.

There is a sense of urgency to participate – a matching gift, a deadline.

There is trust built up BEFORE the campaign launches.

There is infrastructure in place to promote the campaign.

Use this free Planner when planning your next online fundraising campaign!

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