5-step guide to an unforgettable fundraising campaign

5-step guide to an unforgettable fundraising campaign


The Canadian nonprofit sector has rapidly developed over the last two decades. Its growth rate surpassed the country’s GDP -  6.4% annually, compared to Canada’s 5.6% GDP rate. Along with this development, hurdles in generating crucial sources of funding continue popping up.

fundraising hurdles

So what are these "hurdles"?


Traditional funding is dying

The rate at which organizations are appearing is not aligned with an increase in available government funding. There are 170,000 nonprofits and charities in Canada, and traditional revenue sources are drying up. Organizations need to look for alternative ways to stay afloat in this increasingly competitive sector. While donations generally only account for 13 percent of organizational revenue, the value lies in the fact that the donor’s dollar is largely unrestricted. Convincing deep-pocketed philanthropists of your value becomes the next challenge...


Public attitude is changing

There’s been a shift in public attitude towards nonprofit organizations and charities. The reliable demographic that’s more inclined to donate is an aging bunch. A new generation of working professionals is emerging, and these people are much more cautious than their predecessors with the ways they donate their money. This generation does its research. They review sites, reputations, and expect complete transparency. According to Stats Canada, approximately 30% of donors did not give more because they did not think the money would be used effectively. 


What should you do?

So, how can a cash-strapped nonprofit make themselves a desirable donor recipient in a world full of skeptics? These days, it largely boils down to having an effective social media strategy. People are tired of being talked to, they want to be spoken with. Through social media, you can communicate with your audience on a level playing field. The passion for your organization’s cause can spill through your content and show the raw, visual evidence of what’s being done with fundraised money.



Here are 5 steps to developing an unforgettable fundraising campaign:


1. Set goals for your campaign


Execute for outcomes. There should always a purpose for your social media efforts. It can serve as an effective method for reaching out to your existing community, expanding your market, and in this case: fundraising. That being said, don’t hop on the bandwagon without a plan.

When preparing for a social media fundraising campaign, sit down and come up with some realistic goals you aim to achieve. It’s a lot easier to build a strategy around your goals than it is to build goals around a strategy. You may have heard of SMART Goals . This is a great rubric to follow to help you establish goals.


One of your SMART goals may look like this:


-Specific – The goal is to raise $_______.

-Measurable – At the end of the campaign, you will be able to measure the amount you have raised and compare it to your original goal

-Ambitious/Attainable – You likely want to increase your fundraising amount from last year. Do you think this is realistic?

-Relevant – Will the reason for your fundraising campaign matter to your audience?

-Time-Bound – When will the campaign start and end?


Successful campaigns are built by working backwards from where you want to be.


2. Research your audience(s) and discover new ones


It’s very possible that your donor persona doesn’t match the target demographic you should be trying to reach. Social-savvy young people often respond to a well-crafted message that speaks to their beliefs and interests (or works to inspire new ones).  Their support for your cause typically becomes an extension of their personal social brand, which will simultaneously act as a promotional tool for you.

When younger donors, volunteers and constituents are deeply moved, they use crowdsourcing platforms and social media to share their passion for causes with personal and professional networks and to raise funds, recruit volunteers and increase awareness.
— Philanthropic Trends Quarterly, The Change and Adaption Issue, KCI, 2015 Issue 2 p5
young person social media

Do some research to find out where people with the same interests as your organization’s are spending time online. There are plenty of groups, hashtags and pages that work to bring like-minded people together. You’ll be surprised to find awesome places to get your message out and meet ambassadors for your cause.

If want to really dig deep, most social media platforms have integrated analytics tools to help you understand who makes up your current following. This can help you explore what messages will resonate best with your audience.



3. Use emotion to engage your audience


Your mission is to empower your audience. Empowering them to have a voice on an issue, share your content, or to directly support your cause; this is the value of social media for nonprofits.

Fundraise with emotion

59% of people of who engage with causes on social media donate money to nonprofits. Engagement on social media helps validate your organization. When you have large numbers of people backing your cause, it helps establish credibility.

The “advantage” that nonprofits have to become more engaging, is the fact that they typically exist on the basis of working to bring good to a struggling situation. This opens the door to reach viewers on an emotional level. The stats, facts and testimonies that are not solely going to lead to a successful fundraising campaign, it's the connection viewers have with your cause that will. An analysis of the IPA dataBANK showed that campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well as those with purely rational content.

Within this content, have a clear call-to-action. After someone is moved by what your work, put them in the driver’s seat so they can contribute to it. Send them to your website for more information, encourage them subscribe to your newsletter, ask them to donate. Be actionable, or in the very least, keep the conversation going. Present these options in a manner that requires urgency.


4. Show the donor their individual value


You have to show the donor the difference their donation has made or will make. As mentioned earlier, a significant reason why people don’t donate is because they don’t know where the money goes. By finding a way to show the donor exactly what has been done with their generous donation, they will likely be more inclined to give again and tell people about your cause.

Ecosia , is a social enterprise that has found a unique way to convert internet searches into tree-planting jobs in foreign countries

Ecosia, is a social enterprise that has found a unique way to convert internet searches into tree-planting jobs in foreign countries

Their complete transparency as to where the money goes, as well as a calculator of how many trees your searches have planted, has been vital to their success.

By making the user the hero with measurable figures, the incentive to be part of your movement is reinforced. The human nature behind wanting to trust an organization and see the change they’re contributing to is imperative.


5. Track and measure results


Once you wrap up your social media fundraising campaign, analyze how it went. There are various methods for measurement, and even more Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) experts will be urging you to track. This can seem like an overwhelming task.


You focus on:

  • -How your results aligned with the goals you set

  • -How much you spent vs. how much you raised

  • -How much growth came as a result?

  • -How people responded to your messaging


Want to get the most out of social media for your organization?

We help nonprofits take their online presence to the next level. We work with you to find out what tactics align best with your goals and audience to enhance your fundraising efforts.

Our nonprofit discount isn’t bad either.