Use The Right Platform
In the early years of Shower Strike, we were on a shoestring budget, and I spent many hours coding buttons in PayPal for our campaign participants to use to solicit donations. These days, we use a platform designed for campaigns like ours.
This is a game changer. There is an upfront expense for any peer-to-peer platform that is customizable, and there are also additional fees in processing payments. But if you are raising more than $25,000 and want a friction-free user experience (which means more funding), a professional platform is a pretty important element.
Providing parameters for your campaign will also increase donations. Having an end date for any ongoing event will encourage your audience to participate before that event comes to a close. Additionally, if there is truly an urgency about your project or “ask,” make sure to make that clear to your donors. For example, we have some water projects that, if completed by a certain date, will be able to provide an extra six months or more of clean water when constructed in advance of the rainy season. In our pleas for support of those projects, we let our constituents know that their timely donations mean a much greater benefit to the school children in East Africa who are relying on our intervention.
Even where there is no direct urgency, having a time at which your campaign will close creates an opportunity for your team to post more frequently as the end date nears. And your appeals for contributions “in time” before the campaign is over are further amplified with a fundraising goal. When you set your (reachable) goal in advance, your messaging when promoting the event can emphasize the goal and how important it is to reach before the end date. Use your cause-related metrics to illustrate what this goal amount will fund and when.
Call Upon Participant Support
Providing a “toolkit” to your campaign registrants is key to their success as fundraisers.
For our annual Shower Strike, we provide a kit of content and information to every person who signs up on our platform to be one of our fundraisers. This arsenal of assets includes copy-and-paste content for participants to share on social media -- tailored for each major social media channel -- and copy-and-paste content for emails, plus images of our work to generate interest and support, and statistics related to our cause.
We encourage participants to create their own content as well, since we find that personalizing your appeal is always more effective. And we offer phone support to all participants and host a “call bank” one day during the campaign to provide additional tips and encouragement to our fundraisers. This year, we will experiment with text reminders.
Ensure Seven Touches
Marketing experts say that it takes an average of seven “touches” before an ask converts to a sale, and I believe the same to be true for donations. This means that your contacts, on average, need to see the campaign seven times before they will click the “donate” button.
These seven touch points can be a mix of marketing strategies, including social media posts, email campaigns, phone calls and articles in publications with wide distributions. What may seem like incessant begging of your contacts is often necessary to reach your goal. With all of the “noise” on social media and in our daily lives, reminders are not just OK, they are imperative to raising funds.
Find A Donor Match
We have seen donations more than double on days we announce that there is a donor matching contributions. Do your best to line up a donor who can commit to matching dollar-for-dollar (or more) of the donations received on a certain day or in a certain time frame. When this effort is publicized properly, expect to see an exciting spike in giving.
We also encourage our fundraisers to recruit their own donor matches when they can. We have found that even a $100-match pledge will almost always increase giving.
Don't Forget About Post-Campaign Cultivation
As with any fundraising campaign, gratitude and post-campaign outreach are critical for donor-base growth and new donor retention, so make it a priority. Crowdfunding campaigns are especially fertile for relationship-building since the peer-to-peer nature of the campaign often provides new contacts to cultivate.
My team does a great job of sending gratitude -- thank you notes and small thank you gifts -- immediately following an event or campaign, as well as scheduling follow-up calls and coffee meetings with new donors who could turn into bigger donors or great connectors. Many of our major donors have come from our Shower Strike post-campaign cultivation.
What started with 12 participants for our first Shower Strike has now reached more than 800 people who have gone on “strike” with us. We have raised more than $850,000 through this campaign since its first year. And through this campaign alone, we have been able to provide clean water to another 85,000 people.
Each year we have learned and adjusted our strategies along the way. We have found these six to be among the keys to success in our efforts, and they can likely be beneficial to any organization's crowdfunding campaign.