GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation’s annual day of giving for King County nonprofits, is rapidly approaching on Tuesday, May 5! Many of our nonprofit clients are busily preparing, launching their E-Appeal campaigns, and getting their social networking ducks in a row. If you’re not actively working on GiveBIG promotions, you likely are receiving them in your inbox by now. So, in the midst of a county-wide fundraising campaign like GiveBIG, what makes one organization stand out above the rest? What can be done to most effectively reach your audiences, inspire them to act, and leverage the exposure of an event like GiveBIG? Below are five essential tips.
1) Cultivate your core. Surely you’ve heard of the bride who tried a new haircut the day before her wedding? Or the hiker who wore his brand new boots on a week long hike without breaking them in first? The point is that, when the stakes are high, and time is of the essence, it’s best to stick with the tried-and-true. A one-day fundraising event is not a time to experiment with an innovative new donor cultivation approach, unless you are prepared to accept that it might just flop. Better to stay with the strategies you know will work, and reach out to the supporters whom you know will give. Your challenge shouldn’t be to dramatically grow your base of support during the twenty-four hours of GiveBIG, but rather to reaffirm your relationships with your core donors: remind them why the work you do is so important, show them they have a role to play, and inspire them to re-up their commitment.
2) Social is strong, but email is king. Everyone knows about that one video that went viral, was seen by millions of people, and raised a boatload of money. It’s 2015 and those kinds of things happen. But they don’t happen very often. You know what does happen often? People checking their email. While the power of social media as a sharing tool can’t be denied (and should be utilized!), good old fashioned email is still a contender. There aren’t any funny algorithms determining who sees your message, you don’t have to pay to “boost” its visibility, and you can personalize the content for specific audiences rather than simply broadcasting one generic message to your entire network. Don’t underestimate the role of direct email in your GiveBIG outreach strategy.
3) Multimedia moves people. Photos and videos are much more likely to be shared on social media than simple text updates. And sharing is currency during an online fundraising campaign. In order to catch peoples’ attention in the never-ending stream of content that is their Facebook news feed, it’s essential to use compelling visuals that tell your story in an emotionally evocative way. Does your organization serve disadvantaged communities? Share photos of individuals whom you’ve helped. This allows the donor to see “what success looks like,” and to understand the outcomes of their contribution.
4) Clear calls-to-action are critical. Over-complicating things is a bonafide way to confuse people. And when people are confused, they are often paralyzed from taking action. The last thing you need during a one day campaign is donors who don’t take action! Clarity is a must. While it’s important to tell your story through resonant images, videos, and moving narrative (see #2 above). It’s equally critical that you communicate to your donors exactly what they need to do in order to donate and to make an impact for your organization, and to do this as simply and as directly as possible.
5) Matchmakers are onto something. There is something irresistible about the promise of a potential match. Sally from across the hall has a cousin she thinks you’d like. You don’t know anything about this guy, but still, whenever Sally mentions him you blush and get all discombobulated. Knowing that there is someone out there who, just maybe, shares your desires, and that–together–you could be something bigger than you are alone, is a powerful thing. It’s really no different in online fundraising (ok, so maybe it’s a little bit different). If you can line up a donor to match a portion of the gifts received during GiveBIG, it offers a fantastic incentive to your prospective supporters! Not only will their gift be matched by the Seattle Foundation’s stretch pool, it will also be matched by this mysterious handsome match donor…. Like I said, irresistible….
6) Bonus Tip! Ask for–and offer–more than just money. Offer opportunities for people to engage with your organization beyond just making a monetary gift. While the goal of GiveBIG may be to raise financial support for King County nonprofits, it’s an excellent chance to build your community and expand awareness about your mission. Include in your solicitations ways in which people could get involved aside from donating, like events, volunteer opportunities, etc. In addition to giving them an opportunity to be supportive, you’ll also be giving them something even BIGGER– a sense of purpose.
Are you participating in GiveBIG this year? Do you have tips of your own you’d be willing to share? Please let us know in the comments!