By Kelly R. Young
#GivingTuesday is less than two weeks away (December 1). While many organizations have had their fundraising strategies and communication plans in place for some time, if you’ve been dealing with the day-to-day issues facing nonprofits and haven’t had time to develop yours, don’t panic! There’s still time to engage and inspire giving, collaborations, and to lift up and celebrate generosity.
To ensure nonprofits are successful this #GivingTuesday, we asked alumnus Nathan Hand, who is one of our faculty members from The Fund Raising School and chief advancement officer for The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis, to share his top tips to help fundraisers maximize their fundraising efforts.
At minimum! Even if you’re overwhelmed and feel like you can’t pull off a major online fundraising effort, it’s important to still participate. Your absence on this day will speak volumes. Your supporters give to other organizations too and, rest assured, your supporters will hear from them. Send something, even if it’s a simple email or social media post asking that they consider supporting you that day.
Assess your prior engagement
If your social media posts do not draw much engagement (likes, shares, etc.) or your email open rates are not that strong then it’s unlikely a fundraising effort will be successful. You might be better off focusing on engagement. Just like it’s hard to run a successful capital campaign without a strong annual fund base, you need an engaged online community to run a successful online fundraiser. Keep that in mind as you set expectations.
Identify a project
People like to feel like they are contributing to a timely, meaningful, tangible project. The dollar amount is not what’s attractive; it’s the impact that matters. Be creative with what people can support, sponsor, or donate to. For example, if your organization is buying a new $40,000 bus for a youth program, consider how people can “sponsor” a seat on the bus, the wheels, or even the steering wheel. Or, if you really need operational support, package it in a way that is simple and shows impact, like “It costs $250 for someone to take our first-time homeownership classes. Let’s fund 10 people today and raise $2,500 as a community.”
Set a goal
By setting a goal, you will help your organization measure success and possibly help you raise more. Set a goal that’s realistic and one that has a purpose. For example, $10,000 will help us accomplish XYZ, then prepare to publicize this to your donors throughout the day. You can also include the goal on your donation page and feature a progress bar that tracks donations in real time. You can (and should!) post updates on social media throughout the day. People get busy and distracted so you need to work extra hard to keep your cause top of mind.
Ask for support in advance
“Social proof” is a crucial psychological concept in online fundraisers. Simply put, no one likes to go first, and people follow the masses assuming that action is the correct one to take. So, make sure your campaign doesn’t start with an empty thermometer. Ask people you know well for gifts in advance or ask that they make their gift at 6 a.m. before the rest of your community sees it that day. No one is inspired to give to an empty thermometer. In fact, more people will support one that looks popular. Ideally you should have 40-50 percent raised when the campaign “goes live” on #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday thrives on digital platforms. However, don’t overlook other communication channels, such as an enewsletter, website, email signature, and other individuals who can advocate on your behalf. Use every opportunity you have to talk about your mission, your success stories, and your need.
Think about timing and messages
It’s ok to go over the top on #GivingTuesday. Most donors will give permission for more messages if they are meaningful. Remember, it’s important to be relevant. Start the day by announcing your goal, give midday updates, celebrate and recognize donors throughout the day, and end the day with a “it’s not too late to give” message. Share and post messages of positivity, courage, and conviction.
People like to be thanked. At the end of the day, email your supporters again thanking them for contributing on #GivingTuesday and remind them of what their gift will do. Express gratitude and provide donors a sense of how their donation will be used to support your mission.
Nathan Hand is a passionate nonprofit and philanthropy executive who loves growing and strengthening organizations. Hand is the chief advancement officer at The Oaks Academy and a faculty member at The Fund Raising School where he teaches a variety of courses including Principles and Techniques of Fundraising, Effective Marketing for Successful Fundraising, Developing Major Gifts, and Digital Fundraising. He received his M.A. from IUPUI in 2009.