8 Elements of a Successful Fundraising Campaign

Getting ready to launch another big fundraising campaign for your nonprofit? Here are 8 tips to help you crush your fundraising goals!

STEP 1: CREATE A BRAND AROUND YOUR CAMPAIGN. Think of a fundraising campaign as a product or service you’re asking the public to invest in.

Hundreds of other brands and organizations (not to mention social media, email, blogs, pop-ups, TV etc.) are fighting for your audience’s attention. With all the noise around them, people need to be able to figure out what you’re asking them to invest in, why they should do it, and how it will benefit them — in 7 seconds or less.

Before a smart company ever launches a new product into the marketplace it invests a massive amount of time and resources into answering these questions with images (logos), brief phrases (taglines and key messages), and a brand promise or value proposition (the benefit).

While you may not have time or resources on your side, you can package and brand your fundraising campaign in a way that will inspire people to invest in your mission too.

Here’s what you need:

  • A CAMPAIGN NAME: A catchy name that reflects your organization, mission, and the theme of your campaign.

I love Days for Girls International’s campaign, Shattering the Shame, which is raising funds to transform a shameful cultural practice around menstruation in Nepal into a positive reason to celebrate!

The name seamlessly connects Days for Girls’ mission (providing menstrual care solutions and health education to girls around the world) to its campaign by seeking to restore dignity to women and girls while tapping into a feeling most women can relate to (especially on those extra heavy days when embarrassing leaks occur.)

  • A LOGO OR IMAGE: There’s an old but trusted marketing adage that says the average person has to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they’ll respond to your call-to-action.

This is where logos come in really handy.

Whether it’s a vibrant photo with your campaign name overlaying it or a cleverly designed logo, you’re going to want to be sure your image is always connected to your campaign.

I love the logo Go Be Love International created for its “Merry Missionary” year-end campaign in 2017.

Merry Missionary

And how about this fun handbag/house logo in this advertisement for Lydia Place’s Handbags for Housing fundraising event.

Handbags for housing 2

Logos don’t have to be complex or pricy. With a few minutes and a little imagination, you can make your own. Try using a service like Unsplash to find a free background image you like and overlay your campaign or event name onto it with a free design service like Canva.


  • CAMPAIGN MESSAGES: Outline how you plan to clearly articulate the following:
    • The challenge or problem your organization is addressing through this campaign. (i.e. “Too many children in Uganda can’t afford to attend school.”)
    • The solution to that challenge. (i.e. “With your help, we can send 750 impoverished children to school in Uganda this year.”)
    • 2-3 solid reasons WHY people should care. Build your case to get people to give. Reel them in by giving them a reason to care about the specific program/project you plan to fund with the money raised. The “why” may be the most import factor here. Consider Days for Girls’ why: “Without a solution to manage her monthly cycle (period) 113 million adolescent girls in India will miss school this year.” A powerful reason to the “why” questions will elicit a powerful response!
    • Your call-to-action, which answers the question the challenge/problem raises: how people can help. (i.e. “Donate $47 Today.”)
  • HASHTAGS: Start with your campaign name. Limit it to that for Facebook. For Twitter and Instagram, include other popular hashtags around the cause you’re championing.

STEP 2: EMPLOY A MULTI-CHANNEL APPROACH. Yes, social media is on the rise, but email still trumps social media when it comes to generating donations. And believe it or not, direct mail is still king. In fact, direct mail is 10 to 20 times more effective than email, depending on who you ask. My winning formula includes:

  • DIRECT MAIL: One to two appeal letters throughout your campaign with pre-addressed return envelopes included. One in late November and the next in early-mid December. Don’t forget to segment your lists (major donors, recurring donors, one-time donors, lapsed donors, etc.) and tweak your messages accordingly.
  • EMAIL: At least one email newsletter a week, and two or more on matching gift days. You should also include some blogs in your campaign, which can be repurposed into newsletters.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA: At least one post a day featuring a compelling video, photo or image with a brief update that includes your call-to-action and hashtag. Shoot for one live video a week, reporting on the progress of your campaign and reiterating “why” people should support it. (Boost posts that are performing well and post more if you have more.)

STEP 3: INTEGRATE MATCHING GIFT DAYS. People are more inclined to give when their gift is being doubled. And, when you put a deadline on a matching gift opportunity, you create a stronger sense of urgency for potential donors.

Solicit funds from major donors or corporate contributors that can be used for matching gift days. Ideally, you’ll want to = promote a matching gift on your campaign launch date and again about halfway through or near the end of your campaign. Don’t forget to encourage donors to ask their employers to match their gifts.

STEP 4: TELL GREAT STORIES. A great story is the heartbeat of every great campaign. Every email campaign, direct mail appeal, and blog entry, (and even many of your social media posts) should include a compelling story. But remember: it’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s about the people affected by the cause your advocating for, and it’s about your donors, who are your heroes. Every appeal should begin with a hopeful story that presents the problem or challenge along with the solution (which naturally depicts the donor as the hero.) Be sure your stories answer the “why” (see 1.c). Remember: you can repurpose these great stories into blogs and social media posts!

STEP 5: POST AT LEAST ONE PHOTO OR VIDEO A DAY on your social media platforms. This year, it’s all about video! You’ll definitely want a concept video or explainer video for your giving page that you can share via email and social media. You’ll also want to compile a good balance of photos and short videos you can post daily for each day of your campaign. And remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. People want to see who or what they’re helping, along with the impact of their gift.

STEP 6: COLLECT AND SHARE DONOR TESTIMONIES. A little donor love goes a long way. In addition to lending credibility to your organization, studies show people are more inclined to give to an organization that someone they know or respect supports. Start requesting and collecting short videos (30-seconds) or written testimonies (2-3 sentences) with photos from donors who are passionate about your mission. Each testimony should center around why that donor chose to support your organization. Post one donor video or testimony and photo a week on your social media feeds, and include it in your weekly newsletter too.

STEP 7: IMPLEMENT PEER-TO-PEER FUNDRAISING. According to CauseVox, peer-to-peer fundraising accounts for ½ of all online donations. In fact, 1 in 4 emails from peer-to-peer fundraisers results in donations, compared with 1 in 1,250 emails from a nonprofit. So, you’ll want to encourage ambassadors to set up personal fundraising pages they can promote via social media and email.

Don’t even bother with this step if you only receive a few half-hearted commitments. This will only work if those involved are wildly passionate about your cause and fully committed to fundraising for you.

Remember: You can easily manage your campaign ambassadors by creating a private Facebook group where tips for setting up a fundraising page, samples of content, and all the resources they’ll need (i.e. logos, photos, videos, etc.) are accessible.

STEP 8: ESTABLISH A CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE to help you execute all of the above and more. If you plan on getting any sleep during this campaign, you need to identify reliable staff members, board members, interns, and volunteers who can manage various pieces of your massive campaign pie. Rally your troops by being an inspired and passionate leader.

Remember: establish each committee member’s goals, deliverables, and deadlines upfront to ensure accountability.

There are approximately one billion other things you need to think about and do to run a perfect campaign, but hey, you’re only human.

Keep it simple. Focus on fewer social media channels and more powerful messages. Be real. Be authentic. Breath deep. Clear your calendar. Roll up your sleeves. Bring on the lattes, fidget spinners, and snacks. Now go. You’ve got this.

Need help planning and managing your next fundraising campaign? Ping me at sarahlambie@smackdabcommunications.com.




2 thoughts on “8 Elements of a Successful Fundraising Campaign

  1. It’s interesting to learn that email is better than social media if you want to generate donations. My brother is wanting to start a fundraiser for his friend and he was wondering what the best way to get the word out would be. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should utilize email to get people to learn about his fundraiser.


    1. Your brother can use a combination of both. Social media will inspire giving, but email will be the vehicle for driving more donations.


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