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Marketing a fundraiser involves more than just sending out an email or making a post on your organization’s website. It involves creating content that inspires your supporters to take action and choosing the best marketing channel to share that content.
With a global pandemic discouraging in-person meetings, most fundraising campaigns are now taking place online. Fleshing out a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is more important than ever.
Your organization’s online presence is now the best way to get your mission in front of donors and spark their passion for your cause. It’s up to you to figure out the best approach to inspiring and the tools you’ll need to implement your plan in your next campaign.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already decided that you want to increase your fundraising revenue by improving your digital marketing efforts. From figuring out which channels to use and which donors to target first, creating a dedicated and effective digital marketing strategy can be daunting. We can walk you through it! Here, you’ll be exploring the following top tips that will help you:
- Establish fundraising goals
- Optimize email communications
- Inspire supporters to market for you
- Track results during the fundraiser
Building effective nonprofit fundraising and digital marketing plans can seem tricky. Don’t be overwhelmed! You just have to stay true to your mission, represent your nonprofit honestly, and only promise what you know you can accomplish. That’s how you inspire and keep donors.
Let’s get started!
Establish fundraising goals
Before you start really planning a campaign and developing a digital marketing strategy, you need to establish your fundraising goals. These goals should include the amount you want to raise, but they should also include a description of what you will ultimately accomplish with the funds you raise. This is different from your overarching mission! These goals should be specific and achievable.
For instance, if your nonprofit’s main mission is to close the digital divide between wealthy and under-served schools in your area, a fundraising goal could be to raise enough money to buy 75 computers and bring technology to 75 students.
A popular goal-setting framework is the SMART system. Created by George Duran in 1981, the SMART model has affected how many organizations, businesses, schools, and nonprofits outline their objectives.
SMART is an acronym for:
- Specific. Your goal should be specific and focus on an area of performance. Take a look at your database and refer to current events in order to determine what the greatest need is for your nonprofit organization. From there, determine the specific physical actions you want to take.
- Measurable. Your goal needs to be measurable, not subjective. Outline specific actions you want to take (for example: buy and distribute 100 computers) and the cost for each action. This way, you have a good idea of how much money you’d need to raise.
- Attainable. While it’s good to be ambitious, don’t be entirely unrealistic. Take a look at your past fundraisers, your average number of donors, average donation size, and set an achievable fundraising goal. If your organization brought in $2 million in revenue last year, bringing in $5 million this year probably isn’t realistic.
- Relevant. Your goal should obviously relate to your nonprofit’s main mission. Refer back to your mission statement and make sure that your fundraising goal is still supporting it.
- Time-based. Every fundraiser has to end eventually. Set a fixed deadline so you and your team know what you’re working toward. Publicizing this deadline can also motivate your donors to give immediately instead of putting it off!
Using the same above nonprofit example, let’s say your digital divide campaign is an annual event. Let’s say you raised $10,000 last year to bring computers to 50 students. A SMART fundraising goal for your next campaign could be to raise $15,000 to bring computers to 75 students.
When you can summarize your campaign’s need, provide a reachable goal, and reveal its impact all in one sentence, you can better communicate that goal to your donors through digital marketing content.
Donors are often unaware of what nonprofits do with their money, and that’s a common reason for not giving again. Outlining your goals at the very beginning of your appeal gives you a chance to show your donors’ potential impact and inspire giving. From there, you can determine the best fundraising idea to reach the most donors.
Optimize email communications.
Your current digital marketing strategy probably relies heavily on email engagements. According to this article on effective Fundraising letters, these types of communications are one of the best ways to reach donors and express a need.
However, it’s not enough to send one mass email to your entire email list and be done for the day. Personalized and targeted email content is actually the best way to reach your supporters and get a positive response from them. Even small details make a difference! Simply including the recipient’s name in the subject line can deliver up to 6 times higher conversion rate.
Because taking the time to create customized emails for each of your recipients is impractical, many fundraisers turn to advanced communication tools to help send content that will drive conversions.
Take a look at your current communication tool and make sure it can:
- Automate emails. Save staff time by automating certain communications like thank-you emails and event registration confirmation emails. Using email automation, you can also set up an email drip campaign to introduce supporters to your mission and keep them invested in your cause.
- Schedule emails in advance. Since you’ve probably already established a timeline for your fundraiser, it’s a good idea to schedule some emails in advance. For example, as you get closer to the fundraiser end date, schedule emails reminding supporters of deadlines and motivating them to give even more.
- Segment your audience. Using your communications tool, segment your audience by common traits, and create different marketing strategies for each sector. For instance, you might want to segment your donors by previous giving history. You can begin your email marketing campaign with new contacts by introducing your organization and explaining how their gift can make a difference. When you’re emailing past supporters, consider referencing their past gift amount and its impact to inspire them to give again.
An effective digital marketing plan is more than just sending out some emails and creating actionable campaign headlines. How you communicate with your donors can establish your entire relationship with them.
Inspire supporters to market for you
One of the benefits of great marketing is that, if you do it well enough, your supporters will do it for you. For example, you’ve probably never seen a Starbucks commercial. This is because Starbucks is now so successful and established that its consumers willingly advertise for them. Each social media post or text consumers send about Starbucks is an effective way to promote the business.
The same goes for your nonprofit. If you inspire your supporters enough, they’ll market for you. But not every supporter will be willing to advocate on your behalf! Being an ambassador for your cause requires an emotional investment in your mission. So, how can you cultivate and execute that?
Social media is one of the best places to engage with donors and connect them to your cause. On average, a person has 8 social media accounts, so you’re bound to connect with a good chunk of your audience, especially if you’re active on multiple channels. Depending on the platform, you can post images and photos from past fundraising events, live stream your campaign progress in person, and build personal relationships with supporters with comments or replies. All you need is your supporters to follow you!
To encourage social media engagement:
- Advertise your social channels through emails, website content, and other marketing literature in order to direct interested supporters to your active profiles. You can also print each platform’s icon on your direct mail with the username written next to it.
- Consistently share content. Ensure it’s a mix of non-ask content and fundraising opportunities. This can include exciting organization updates, upcoming events, recent accomplishments, and direct fundraising asks.
Social media isn’t just a great place to engage your donors! It’s also the best platform to encourage supporter marketing. With “sharing” and “retweeting” options, it’s easy for users to repost content that resonates with them. To take this even further, you can even host peer-to-peer campaigns.
Peer-to-peer campaigns are social fundraising efforts that involve nonprofits recruiting volunteers to fundraise on their behalf. These volunteers are some of your biggest supporters, and their voices can help amplify your fundraiser with every share to social media. Participating in a peer-to-peer campaign doesn’t just get donors excited about raising money—it also helps them feel empowered and connected to your cause.
In order to pull off a successful peer-to-peer campaign, you need more than some active social media accounts. According to Qgiv, choosing the right peer-to-peer tool is a crucial part of effectively motivating your fundraisers and maximizing funds. Consider the following ways the right tool can enhance your campaign. You can use it to:
- Include a public scoreboard and encourage volunteers to compete against each other! Seeing a list of the top fundraisers fosters a sense of friendly competition, which can motivate many to raise even more.
- Post a fundraising thermometer to track progress. You’ll get people more and more excited the closer you are to reaching your goal, which can build momentum and encourage more people to give
- Provide volunteers with communication templates. For some of your volunteers, this is their first time fundraising! Equip them with a simple email and social media templates that they can reference at any time.
- Ensure each participant has their own peer-to-peer fundraising page. This is what your volunteers will use to advertise to their friends and family on social media. Each P2P page should be customizable so each person can describe why they’re passionate about the cause.
Peer-to-peer campaigns are some of the best ways to get visibility for your fundraiser and expand your digital marketing efforts. You just need to inspire supporters enough to fundraise on your behalf!
Track your results
One of the benefits of digital marketing is the amount of data you can gather. Since your entire marketing campaign takes place online, your fundraising tools should track and store each supporter’s engagements. From helping you understand which emails enticed supporters to give to understanding how many conversions a social media post had, this data is valuable to understanding how your fundraiser did and improving future marketing efforts.
Having a clean and accurate database is crucial if you want to grow your organization’s donor base and improve your fundraising. But it’s almost impossible without the right reporting tools and constituent relationship management (CRM) system to depend on. Make sure you have a comprehensive view of all fundraising data and try not to rely on one-off solutions that don’t integrate with the rest of your system.
Within your CRM, you should be able to:
- Create custom reports by setting specific data filters that you can access and run at any time.
- Track important fundraising statistics to help you determine the success of your campaigns, better engage donors and understand what types of giving perform the best.
- Visualize trends and have a better understanding of which digital marketing efforts performed best.
- See results in real-time. As your fundraiser continues, it’s a great idea to track digital marketing efforts in real-time. This way, you can adjust them as needed, even if the campaign hasn’t concluded yet.
Keeping track of fundraising data and watching the performance of your digital marketing efforts is the best way to understand what went well and pinpoint areas for improvement. This way, any future marketing decisions you make will always be backed up by data!
Creating a digital marketing strategy involves more elements than most fundraisers realize. It involves understanding your audience and creating content that resonates with them. By laying out your fundraising goals, tweaking email communications, and inspiring supporters to market for you, you can develop a digital marketing strategy that leads to success!