An Annual Campaign Story
A Trio of Posts on Re-energizing an Annual Campaign
In the first two Annual Report posts, we laid out the basic plan and the engagement of content and media. Now, we take you on a brief week-by-week timeline of activities and accomplishments and how we reached a 64% increase over previous year in the number of donors and a 90% improvement in income for a 20-year old campaign.
Week 0 – The Pre-season. Several weeks of videos were released as part of a tease campaign telling the story of the young people who will ultimately benefit from supporter’s donations. We also released historical videos to warm the hearts of alumni and fans that have been dedicated to the organization for a long time. Behind the scenes, mailing materials were being primped and printed, mailing lists were being polished and perfected. Social media schedules were set for release. Game on.
The Campaign Launch. Goal: 400 donors
Week 1 –Mailers in mailboxes, emails in inboxes and social media on friend’s newsfeeds. The spotlight is on and the campaign takes flight.
Week 2 – The Phone-athon. Who said telemarketing was dead? By experimenting with some cloud technology, we proved you could use telemarketing for good, not evil. During past year’s campaigns, there were plenty of wasted resources in leaving too many voice mail messages and non-connects. New solutions from the world of political advertising allowed us to automatically leave pre-recorded messages from our Executive Director, while staff and volunteers connected with live individuals. Objective met!
Week 3 – Phoneathon continued to lapsed donors, new fans and friends and non-giving alumni. VIP outreach began to top dollar donors and a slew of individual, personalized emails. This is trench warfare. It ain’t pretty, but the results sure are.
The Surge. Goal: 400 donors amounting to 800 total (or 200 more than last year’s total)
Week 4 – Time for a second direct mail package and direct telemarketing and handwritten appeal from current young participants in the program. The personal touch never hurts, and when it’s coming from the direct beneficiary of the donation, even better!
Week 5 – Sticking with the US Postal Service we engaged a follow-up postcard to our donors who have yet to contribute to the new campaign. Three mailings to the same audience? You bet. Simple, direct and straightforward, outreach is not always about what or how you say something, but just that you say it… or in this case, ask for it
Week 6 – The Challenge. Long the bastion of public radio, how would our audience receive this message of a challenge? In a word: amazingly. Each donation of at least $25 was met with a match of $34. With a goal to reach 250 donors, we finished well in excess of 300+ donors during the challenge. The goal was to bring us to within 150 contributors of our overall goal of 1,000 and it did that and then some.
If you’ve contemplated using a challenge, as long as you flesh out all of the details up-front, we whole-heartedly recommend it.
Week 7 – Our mantra was to Finish Strong.
We had an upcoming live community performance, so we broadcast the performance live via YouTube and also had an onsite set-up ready for donations.
While these might be out of the realm of many smaller nonprofit organizations, or could negatively impact attendance at a local ticketed event, if you have a regional or national donor base, or have the ability to produce a benefit performance, it could be just the project to bring your campaign to a successful and memorable conclusion.
Besides achieving our goals and setting a new standard for how our fundraising campaigns are executed, the takeaway from the promotion and marketing support is that with today’s technology, if you can think it, there’s a pretty good chance you can do it.
No longer is a fundraising campaign simply the dry letter with a response card. Nor is it simply a static website with a “Donate Here” button. The competition for fundraising grows every day and how you present your organization sets the tone for your fundraising success.
Individual mass marketing is no longer an oxymoron.
Fans and friends want to receive quality, relevant information about you and your organization. With social media and the multitudes of options that are out there for you to explore, it only takes creativity to be able to engage your supporters in ways you never did before.
No longer are the big players the only ones who get to do the impressive and fun stuff. With a different perspective on how you’ve raised funds and conducted your campaigns before, you too can experience great growth not only financially but through improved stewardship.
Your fans and friends love you. They want to support you. You just need to reinforce those reasons and provide platforms to create these transactions of love and to keep their passion alive for you and your cause.
Thanks to the team at YEA! for their work and contributions on this campaign: Brad Martin (fundraising), Mike Simaska (tech), Allison Watkins (social) and Dieter Wiselogel (media).