Putting Advocates To Work For Fundraising Campaigns

When a nonprofit dog shelter is able to raise $32,000 on #GivingTuesday and over $250,000 in the month of December alone, it’s pretty obvious that they’ve got some seriously passionate supporters. That and a solid marketing squad leveraging those supporters to promote the campaign.

This was the case for the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter who idfive teamed up with to drive end of the year donations. The 10-year old Baltimore shelter has amazing name recognition, boasting over 60,000 Facebook followers, hundreds of volunteers and a host of local businesses supporting their mission. Putting this fan base to work (in a social sharing/word of mouth sort of way) was what allowed the month long #PayItFurward campaign to smash expectations and raise over a quarter of a million dollars.

By providing BARCS advocates with a month’s worth of content to share, events to participate in, and platform-optimized creative with a strong-call-to-action, the campaign idfive created promoted BARCS and their mission to new audiences in a way that paid online media couldn’t have (at least for any reasonable amount of money). Instead of being fueled by money, this campaign was fueled by real people and businesses advocating for a cause they cared about deeply. This commitment — along with all the hard work from BARCS and all of us here at idfive — is what lead to the campaign’s stunning success.

Whether you’re looking to run a campaign for a nonprofit, a university or any other institution in need of funding, the tactics we used to rally BARCS advocates can work for you, too.

Here they are:

Give the campaign a name, a theme, and a story: People gravitate toward organized and active campaigns. You don’t always need a hashtag, but comprehensive visuals, fonts and messaging go a long way to make donors and advocates feel like they’re apart of something big. Remember, they don’t want to just give, they want to feel like, alongside others, that they’re making a difference.

Create content to be passed around: A social media presence is nothing without great content. When it comes to content for a campaign, we don’t mean ads or extensive research, we mean graphics, blogs and videos that can be easily digested and shared. If your budget is limited, then just focus on one piece of content — our three minute BARCS #PayItFurward video was shared over 1,000 times alone.

Give advocates a sense of urgency: Just a few hours into Giving Tuesday, a dog in critical care was dropped off at BARCS. In light of this new reality, the campaign switched gears to tell donors that all the money they were donating was first going to one dog named Avi, who needed to be saved. This kind of action-based involvement is a perfect example of how to increase the urgency of the campaign and convey its purpose.

Involve local businesses: The #PayItFurward campaign rallied local businesses to support the cause by sharing the video on Facebook, putting posters in their stores and handing out branded BARCS dog treats. Involving local businesses is always a great way to reach new audiences and build the broader, communal feeling that inspires people to give and get involved. Use these co-marketing tips to help you find the right businesses to spread your messaging.

Use an integrated mix of tactics: In order to give your campaign a comprehensive feel, and in order to reach all possible audiences, you need to have a mix of online and offline tactics. Much of the success of #PayItFurward was due to the unabashed mix of tactics: Dog treat hand-outs in the local neighborhood, direct emails, online video, posters, social media posts, local news PR, billboards, etc.

Leverage social networks on Facebook: Campaigns like this show us just how important a Facebook following is. But you can’t stop with your own channel, you need to influence others to share, including non-competing businesses, applicable blogs and relevant organizations. Using these outlets as audience-builders is a very effective and often underutilized tactic.

Keep the angle local: The success of this campaign is a testament to Baltimore’s rich culture and generous spirit — but this attitude can be found anywhere. Unearthing this spirit by keeping a local angle is a great way to motivate people. In fact, while your campaign needs to have a collective and impactful feel, being too big and faceless can hurt because it prevents potential donors from making that all-important personal connection that gets them to open up their wallets. A local angle can help tap into people’s competitive and communal natures by motivating them to help prove that they’re part of a caring, compassionate, and committed community

While your campaign needs to have a collective and impactful feel, being too big and faceless can hurt because it prevents potential donors from making that all-important personal connection that gets them to open up their wallets.

Matching gifts motivate givers: Everyone loves a two-fer. It’s fundraising common knowledge, but worth reaffirming that having someone to match donations will inspire people to give because they feel that their gift has twice the impact. On #GivingTuesday, idfive matched donations up to $1,500, and the campaign raised $32,000 in that day alone.

Set a clear (and attainable) goal: Setting a fundraising goal does two things: it creates urgency around a time-sensitive movement and it motivates advocates. When you have these two things, you’re bound to amass an audience that is working together at the same time and focused on this one issue.

If you have any questions about how to develop the type of creative work and strategy that can maximize a fundraising effort, feel free to give us a shout.

For more information on the #PayItFurward campaign, check out the case study.

Originally published at idfive.com on March 3, 2016.