Published by Alex Romanak on 22 Jan 2013 at 01:21 pm
Following Wiser.org‘s successful end of year fundraising campaign, we spent time collecting surveys from donors and talking with fundraisers to identify important takeaways for future campaigns. We’ve managed to boil it down to our top 8 fundraising lessons, which we hope other nonprofits might find useful in their own fundraising efforts.
1. Leverage the talents of your community
For the first time ever, we recruited Wiser.org volunteers, editors and community members to join our staff and form a real fundraising team. We called ourselves the WiserChampions. Equipped with donation letter templates, fundraising tips, small prizes for the top fundraisers and regular motivational messages, the team accounted for over 97% of our total donors.
Hats off to Namrata Chattaraj, a WiserLocal organizer in India, who brought in 16% of the 410 donors and won our top fundraiser team challenge. However, all of our WiserChampions did such a great job fundraising, we wish we had more of them (hint hint! In case you’d like to join our team next year!).
Our takeaway: Inviting your community to participate in fundraising efforts only adds to a campaign’s effectiveness.
2. Prepare early
Wiser.org’s newsletter appeals were well-written and sent out on time; however, at times the writing and sign-off process felt a bit pressured, especially given the packed schedule of a nonprofit’s end of year.
Our takeaway: Recruiting early and preparing communication in advance will result in a less stressful, more effective campaign.
3. Use the right platform
Wiser.org’s principal fundraising platform, Crowdrise.com, featured weekly fundraising “mini-challenges.” In one challenge, the organization that received the most donations on a certain day won an extra $1000; in another, the first 20 organizations that raised $250 got it matched. Each mini-challenge gave Wiser.org’s team us an extra boost of energy and a good reason to reaffirm our appeal with potential donors. We ended up winning 3 Crowdrise challenges, bringing in another $1,000 toward our final goal.
Our takeaway: Choosing the right fundraising platform is essential; additional incentives can give your nonprofit extra opportunities to keep donors and fundraisers engaged.
4. Keep donation options open
United States donors often used Crowdrise, while donors from India preferred cash. Our WiserChampion based in France, Camilla Burg, said European donors liked PayPal, because it allowed for donations to be made in euros.
Our takeaway: A diverse set of donation vehicles ensures the optimal experience for every donor. A donor’s location, preferred currency, and preferred platform can be accounted for.
5. You never know who will donate (and who won’t)
During the course of the campaign, WiserChampions were surprised to see certain close friends and family members refuse or never reply to their request for a small donation. In contrast, others were also surprised to see the range of people who did donate, including a shop owner met in India, a telemarketer making a sell, and a sister-in-laws massage clients.
Our takeaway: Shed all expectations for who will and who won’t give. Donations can come from anywhere – you just need to ask.
6. If you don’t hear back, ask again (and again, and again!)
“I missed the other deadline, but I can still make a contribution?” “I just donated – sorry, your other email was buried in my inbox!” “Finally got a chance to give, thanks for the reminder,” – these were just some of the messages received by WiserChampions after sending a follow-up to their initial appeal. Without sending follow-ups, Wiser.org may not have received those donations.
Our takeaway: Always ask for a donation more than once. Potential donors may be busy, forgetful, or have missed you the first time. Asking again ensures no donation falls through the cracks.
7. Be transparent
In our survey, donors said they wanted more elaboration on how their campaign contributions were to be used. Respondents suggested that such a change would encourage others to donate. We realized that we could do more to help our donors understand Wiser.org’s work to support communities across the world.
Our takeaway: Taking the time to discuss, create, and publicize a document that clearly and precisely explains how donations will be used is invaluable, as it gives prospective donors added confidence.
8. Always (and we really mean always) say thank you
In our surveys, many donors highlighted the timely thank you they received as a big part of their satisfaction with Wiser.org. Conversely, outside studies indicate that one of the main reasons why donors are not satisfied is that they are not acknowledged or thanked for their contribution.
Our takeaway: Never underestimate the value of a punctual thank you note or letter. It really does mean a lot to a donor to have their contribution properly recognized.
4 Responses to “8 Things We Learned from 2012′s Fundraising Campaign”
Leave a Reply