How to Launch a Successful Non-Profit Campaign


    Whether you are a large agency with ample resources or a small organization working with a limited budget, there will be times when you will have to run an eye-catching campaign. The days of one big mailing to everyone in your non-profit’s database are over.

    Launching a good campaign can be crucial since it builds income, brings in new donors, builds up a database of giving, stewards donors, and helps identify donors who are especially enthusiastic. Today most non-profits run several campaigns as opposed to one campaign per year. It’s okay to have one big effort that stands as your signature campaign, bringing in the vast majority of gifts, but you will most likely need other smaller campaigns to meet your organizations funding needs.

    Research shows that the campaigns that seem to work the best are those that involve a great deal of planning, passion and regular communication.

    Mark Larvin has worked in public relations for over 20 years. He has helped a number of Canadian charities launch successful campaigns and points out, determination is key and so is courtesy. “To be successful you have to be persistent, but not rude or offensive,” Larvin insists.

    Larvin says the most important part of a campaign begins before the actual launch. This “first phase” as he put it, is determining what channels you will use to reach your audience. Again, one big mailing isn’t going to cut it. Many non-profits use a combination of website content, social media, email blasts, and traditional media during their campaigns.

    “Once you have established who your audience is, you will be able to decide where to best concentrate your efforts. That might mean that you use limited traditional media and go heavy on social media for example,” Larvin suggests.

    The other point communication experts make is to be consistent. This means whether you are posting something on your website, on a social media site, in a magazine, or running an ad on radio, the message should be the same and the goal should be the same.

    Here are a few other suggestions on how to run a successful non-profit campaign:

    • Keep the campaign short – campaigns that establish a sense of urgency are typically more successful. Don’t give people time to think about it, forget about it and never come back.
    • Don’t forget a call to action – “Give a Little – Save an Elephant” is simple. People don’t want to get bogged down in wordy explanations.
    • Make donating easy – worse thing you can do is convince people to give then make it hard for them to do so. It should be one easy click to donate. You can make your donation page mobile-friendly, enroll in the YouTube for Non-profits program, and/or embed a big “Donate” button on your fundraising email that takes people straight to your donation page.
    • Make your goal clear – “Help us raise $20,000 by Jan 10th, to feed and protect 500 African elephants”, as opposed to “Help us raise $20,000 for elephant conservation.”
    • Be different – For example in October of 2016, Australia based non-profit YGAP ran “Polished Man”, a campaign encouraging men to paint one fingernail with nail polish to raise awareness and funds to support children who suffer physical and sexual violence.
    • Use visuals – a short, 30 second video on YouTube or on your website can have great impact.

    These are just a few handy suggestions. Your office is likely full of creative minds ready to roll up their sleeves and come up with some outstanding ideas for a great campaign. It’s important to point out that while a successful campaign does take careful planning and is a lot of work, it can also be a great deal of fun for those who are running it.

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