In February of 2015 I wrote an article outlining a new strategy for Non-profits to take their fundraising efforts online. This was an age of expensive galas and digital begging to the proportions never seen before. This article was originally published on Captivating Times and read hundreds of times by non-profit directors worldwide. Today, this "new fundraising strategy" has become “The Blueprint for Non-profit Crowdfunding” and I’m quite proud of that.
Since then, merely a year ago, multiple non-profit Jewish organizations such as RAJE, Emit, Ohr Somyach and so forth have used the strategies in the article with an online crowdfunding platform called Charidy.
Charidy.com gave my blueprint another game-changing element by allowing donors to “match” the funds that are raised. Here is the original article. Since this was written, organizations who've created super-engaged members were able to raise about a quarter of a million dollars on each campaign using the strategies seen below.
So at this point, I believe the data speaks for itself.
The New Fundraising Strategy: What every Non-Profit Director Needs To Know
February 2015 | By Mark Gold
Goal: Captivate your audience and maximize your fundraising potential by creating a lifetime of givers and not a lifetime of begging.
Reaping the rewards of any online fundraising campaign (kickstarter, gofundme, auction, etc) requires a strong bond with a fan base of individuals who are cause-loyalists or simply support your organization's mission statement. Without such a pre-existing bond, the campaign will not reach its fundraising potential and instead of "treating" your audience to an altruistic opportunity, you'll be annoying them with just another thing, which will make them less likely to give, support and share your cause now and for many years to come.
So how can we captivate your audience and maximize your fundraising potential by implementing clever and innovative marketing strategies?
2 BIG STEPS TO TRANSFORM YOUR ONLINE FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
Step 1: Understanding your true audience and your true message:
Your true loyal audience is made up of those thousands of "fans/members/alumni" who have been directly influenced by your organization. Those guys and girls or men and women who got the gift of "insert your mission statement here" have awoken to seek meaning and purpose. Through their journey of seeking meaning and purpose, they become upstanding role models, create families, live fulfilled-meaningful lives and contribute to the advancement of our community, society, and planet.
See where this is going?
I'm going to make an educated guess that you may have thousands if not tens of thousands of fans or supporters on Facebook, Twitter and in your email database. If so, think about the power of true connectivity.
If you can get every fan and 1 of their friends/family to give $5 right now, how would that impact your fundraising efforts?
No, it's not a numbers game, it's the intensity game. It's not the total sum of the individuals but the intensity of each individual in the total sum. You need both, but primarily you need intensity within the individuals. Imagine 5,000 fans giving $5 in 50 minutes. That equals $25,000 raised in less than an hour. But is that possible? Well, if my team and I can sell over 400 premium tickets, each of which retailed in the hundreds of dollars in 5 and a half hours, I'd like to argue it is. Let's explore the basics of how to accomplish this.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLE: First, we need to create something supporters, enthusiasts, and loyalists can sink their teeth into. As I say to my clients "first we create demand, then we treat customers to our products."
Example of successful Target demo: women aged 18-30, who have gone to your organization or support similar studies, programs, and causes.
Shaping the mindset and capturing your audience: People want to hear stories of how your "product" changes lives and the world. If you simply remind them WHY they WANT to support your cause through other people, you'll achieve far greater results than "guilt marketing" or spamming; because contrary to what inexperienced marketers may think, visibility does not supersede relevance. In fact, relevance is a prerequisite to achieving fundraising objectives. Everyone cares about starving kids in Africa, but it's not as relevant as the social issues in your community. And even when you "guilt" someone by showing them videos of starving kids, in most cases people will resent this cold unsolicited approach.
...Supporters want to connect with your mission statement, but your annoying them and competing for their donations with every other non-profit. So what's the most effective method of marketing a fundraising campaign...
HAVE YOUR SUCCESS DO THE TALKING FOR YOU: Today, user-generated content and is one of the most prevalent marketing methods for Fortune 500 companies. Everyone from Coca-Cola to Google to the new start up you just heard about is generating content based on user submissions. It's called crowd-sourcing, and it’s going to be your Competitive Advantage.
Continuing our example: If 50 girls in your demographic record a simple "thank you video" and share their story on how your actions changed their lives, you'd emotionally reach and touch tens of thousands of potential supporters and potential donors. You'll achieve 2 objectives simultaneously: creating brand ambassadors and intriguing new supporters. Wouldn't this approach have a lasting impact on your cause, to create lifetime givers rather than a lifetime of begging? Automate that giving!
With socially infused user-generated "ambassador campaigns" you'll create real buzz and market interest, which leads to great PR stories. You can get any local news outlet to publish an inspiring piece about the collective consciousness in your creative social campaign, the fundraising cause and the mission behind it. People want to see other people uniting for a good cause and when they do, they want to jump on board.
It reminds people WHY this is a big deal and how their tiny involvement makes a real BIG difference!
Mark's Online Fundraising Formula:
Real stories > influencers > organic shares > spread the awareness > create loyal supporters >fundraising campaign
So many non-profits jump to the last stage of the formula and work backwards. Unfortunately this lack of insight makes them miss the opportunity to reach their lifetime fundraising potential.
All that was just step 1. Ready for the final step?
Step 2. Connecting the Fundraiser with Your True Audience
Once you've created and shared these stories on social media and through PR and emails, that's when you push the online fundraising (kickstarter, gofundme, auction, etc) as a "treat" to your audience. You can also increase urgency and participation by integrating other campaigns such as events and publishing content such as books.
A) Simple gathering or local event: getting sponsored by a local food business. You can affordably reinforce your brand's mission statement and remind your audience of the bond you share. People love food and rubbing elbows with like-minded philanthropists - especially with an organization that has a good reputation among supporters. Talk about your history and strengthen the bond and love you share for your cause. Show pictures, hand out promotional products, and focus on promoting your supporters and their achievements.
B) Publish a Book: To attract donors, you can run a writing contest for an appealing prize to the best story (have people vote online while reading the stories) and combine them into a 40-50 page booklet titled "short stories on how XYZ changed my life." Hand that to a potential donor, look them straight in the eye and say, "with your generous contribution, we will change lives" - or any dramatic, sincere invitation of cleverness will do.
The point is, it works. Your audience will make your case 100 times more convincing for you. You can integrate the booklet into your website for free downloads or publish an e-book on Amazon and have your supporters dollar it there.
So, one could say fundraising is a culmination of multiple marketing activities reinforcing the original objective. Before you set out on a "fundraising campaign," you should create a pre- existing engagement campaign to build up your fan base. Simply put, the closer the bond with your audience the more they will give.
This creates a Sales Funnel: 1. Heart-warming user-generated stories put into a viral video on why supporting your non-profit is supporting the planet's future and every person’s purpose, aka embed yourself into their long-term existence.
2. Social hashtags indicating unity and participation: #isupportxyz
3. Social gathering of event focusing on unity/bonding.4. Short story contest and book demonstrating your impact. 5. Finally, support "XYZ" by “treating yourself” to our auction/dinner/fundraiser.
Making a true emotional connection for fundraising goals: The secret to Success: you need to be straight-forward with your current supporters before they develop a need to share their story. If you want to truly connect with your current supporters, you must acknowledge your effort to improve conditions in your organization such as food, programs, known issues and other things that have a bad reputation or stigma. Encourage a "suggestion box" and promote your ability to implement suggestions in your next newsletter.
"Donna suggested we do XYZ, we did, and people loved it, thanks Donna."
-Director of XYZ
Put a positive spin on issues and show signs of improvement based on suggestions. Then, you'll turn negative reviews into positive ones by converting the unappreciated unaffiliated into your most influential ambassadors.
"Even though the trip wasn't 5 star, it was part of the growth process for me to understanding and appreciating all the gifts I truly have in this world, thank you so much XYZ." - Unaffiliated Turned Supporter
Tell people what the funds are for and stress the need for improvement: they know it goes to salaries, education, marketing and your main cause but stress the fact that it's important to improve conditions for them, within your organization.
Stress the message: "Their importance and comfort is your importance and comfort."
Summary: People want to see stories, be inspired and emotionally-connect to your brand. When that happens, your fundraiser will break records and donations will be flying in from every corner of the world. I know these ideas may be out-of-the-box for how things are currently done in your department, but if you're going to do something that hasn't been done before, you're going to need to step up your game and change your approach.
Think of ALS: it exploded with the #icebucketchallenge. Not the bucket of water, but the user-generated approach and how they captivated their audience.
This is what I am hoping you will understand. It's not magic, it's marketing.
I understand that budgets are tight, but as you can see, research, ideas, plans and execution protocols are complicated and imperative. Investing in the right marketing vehicle is essential for short-term relevance and long-term success.
It's not easy, but neither is constructing a house, and that's why organizations hire us. Marketers are your brand's engineers.
Marketers put their reputation on the line to ensure success every time we pick up a project.
These marketing protocols, sales funnels and IMC strategies work for Fortune 500 companies and they will for you too. If there's a way my team or I can further assist you, please say hello on Twitter or our website.
What!? Where!? Who!? Send me your comments: Mark@meetmarkgold.com