May 30, 2023


In Part 1 of this series, it was recommended that your organization harvest and examine your current and historical donor development data. Now comes the time to place pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be).

  1. Messaging – For the success of your plan, it is crucial your campaign message is clear. Ambiguity can torpedo your campaign before it launches. Make sure your story is compelling as to why you are seeking increased/new donations. Share your messaging with your organization’s committee (and even outside the committee) to determine if your messaging is resonating emotionally with why donors should contribute to your cause. Make sure it is neither overwhelming or insufficiently engaging. If you have a specific dollar goal in mind, voice it in your communication to donors. Also, let the public know where you stand in your campaign. Broadcast if you are just launching, halfway there, near the finish line, but need an extra push, etc.
  2. Communication Vehicles – Figure out exactly where to best place your campaign in the public sector. Email, Social Media, Print and Face to Face each have different features and benefits. If budgets are a concern, stick to free digital such as social media and email campaigns (if your email campaign service provider allows this for your account). FYI: These days, most donors respond more easily to a short video or clean graphic than some form of communication built with several paragraphs.
  3. Tiered and Recurring Giving – One of the biggest carrots on a stick you can extend to new donors is the ability to choose which level of giving is affordable to them. Even if they cannot contribute at the highest level, providing a donation of any amount is always welcome. It also provides you with the opportunity to get an increased donation in the future. Another popular method is to allow donors to give each month via digital means. Your digital payment processing provider can give you the options and help you set up your database so that an electronic handshake can be made to each donor to bill and receive the monthly amount. Some donors appreciate this as a way to give in incremental amounts if they can’t donate a larger figure all at once. Additionally, these types of donation exercises can be considered anticipated monthly income for your organization’s financial forecasting.
  4. Donor involvement – You’ll find that donors actually enjoy participating in a campaign! It makes them feel needed and part of the bigger picture. Be aware that some donors prefer to remain in the background. Some may even want to donate strictly on an anonymous basis to preserve any type of embarrassing position if somehow the public finds out they donated to your campaign and not another organizations (or the same could apply regarding the amount of donation made).
  5. Monitor your progress – This cannot be overestimated. The most important aspect of a solid campaign strategy is to look at the data during the campaign and determine if you are well on the way to meeting your goal. If not, examine your strategy and be prepared to make changes.
  6. Visual Messaging – If your organization is fortunate enough to have an in house graphics person, work closely with that individual or team to make certain the artwork created supports and matches your campaign message. If your organization isn’t at that size and capacity to have such in house talent, contact a local agency to provide you with the materials you need. TIP: Before you sit down with your agency to come up with a scope of work, be sure your campaign is thoroughly drafted so that both parties know the expectations and deadlines. It can make a difference in how smoothly the process goes with getting all your media materials ready, available for your team to use, and on time. Use compelling visual photos and video in all your media distribution, print and digital. Where possible, use genuine photo content of your organization’s operations or mission. If this is unavailable, use high quality stock image photos.
  7. Prospectus – One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal can be a professionally prepared Annual Report. This gives your existing donor base a clear idea of how their contributions were used. New donors will get a vital snapshot of your organization, its history, mission, vision, and how you plan on using their monies. This type of collateral takes time and coordination with your board to provide all data and content for use by the graphics person, so be sure to schedule a month or two in advance of your campaign launch to coordinate harvesting all the information needed so the graphics person has everything necessary to create the piece and on time for the campaign launch. Be aware that this type of collateral can also be used throughout the year and with certain grant submittals. Have your graphics person construct print and digital versions for ease of application.
  8. Ease of Donation – Ensure your systems for new donor giving are accessible and user-friendly. This is critically important if your campaign offers tiered giving options or some style of “subscription” giving. Consult with your online services team (IT department, Web Developer, Social Media Marketing Consultant, etc.) and determine which are the easiest vehicles for your donor targets to send their money. These days, most folks are familiar with many of the online services such as Eventbrite (for public events), Classy, Blackbaud, Tapestry, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Facebook, etc. Some donors are old school and will write a check. Whatever it is, make sure it is super simple and won’t frustrate your donors when they go to pay online. TEST, TEST, TEST! For your old school donors, provide a self-addressed, postage paid envelope. By the way, you’d be amazed at how many online nonprofit campaigns were sent my way and after reading lots of compelling stories about why to give to the organization, they failed to put a “Donate Today” or similar call to action button on their page so that prospective donors could actually send money. Always have a second pair of eyes look at your print and digital layouts before going public.
  9. Tax Receipt – Verify that whatever apparatus you are using for accepting donations (online or manual) has the means to generate a timely receipt to the donor thanking them for their contribution and providing whatever tax declarations are applicable to your municipality (local, county, state, federal).
  10. Send A Thank You Note – This seems like such a given, but you would be amazed how often I have donated to nonprofit organizations that provided a static automated tax receipt and never followed up with a thank you note. It’s a small gesture that pays back in spades, so never forget to thank the people that kept your organization alive.

Stay Tuned

In future editions, FIVE will provide insight and recommendations for:

  • Where To Hunt For New Donors
  • Finding Major Donors
  • Donor Retention

Fun Fact

If you are a nonprofit organization, FIVE can help you with your social media, email campaigns, websites, and other nonprofit organization board operations. Give the studio a call today!