Recently, fundraising trailblazer, Matt Scott of Team Rubicon, joined up with Twilio.org for the Peer to Peer World Virtual Conference to discuss best practices for creating sticky fundraising campaigns that drive big results.
As the resident fundraising guru at Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys US veterans in support of disaster relief efforts, Matt helped grow Team Rubicon’s annual revenue from $250k to over $15 million – $9 million for Hurricane Harvey alone. So it’s safe to say Matt knows a thing or two about creating successful fundraising campaigns.
During the conversation, Matt offered his top 5 tips for peer to peer fundraising campaigns that generate strong conversions and create long term relationships with supporters:
- Make Your Fundraiser Time-Bound
As a rule of thumb, Matt finds that 4-6 weeks is an effective length for campaigns to generate results without wearing out your audience. “When you start communicating with your participants, donors, and fundraisers,” says Matt, “the 4-6 week mark really allows you to have continuous communication across multiple channels without fatigue.”
- Create a Strong Theme
A good campaign theme serves multiple objectives. First, a theme connects your campaign to the interests of your supporters, motivating them participate. Second, it links tightly with the intended and achieved outcomes of the campaign. Finally, a great theme ties back to key programmatic outcomes for your organization to help you convert campaign participation into ongoing financial support after the campaign ends.
For example, Matt, who is also a co-founder of CauseMic, worked with the nonprofit, Project Koru, to develop a campaign to support young adult cancer survivors attending an outdoor adventure camp post-treatment. The campaign, Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, used the hashtag #nowaitlist to connect the outcome (financial support to take 107 cancer survivors off the waitlist for camp attendance) to the mission of the organization (supporting cancer survivors through community and outdoor recreation), while using concrete outcomes to demonstrate how the contributions of each fundraiser and donor result in sending people to the camp.
- Reduce Barriers to Engagement
Your supporters – the champions in a peer to peer fundraiser – usually aren’t professional fundraisers themselves. Some things that professional fundraisers take for granted might not be obvious to an amateur fundraiser. Therefore, it’s helpful to provide coaching and guidance before and during the campaign to help each of your supporters maximize their success.
Consider sending out coaching tips through email or SMS, and develop a fundraising guide to support their work. A good fundraising guide walks your supporters through the whole campaign process, including details about where the money they raise goes, and provides tools and resources to help broadcast the campaign. Sample tweets, text messages, and emails can greatly reduce the barriers for your participants to proactively engage their networks in support of the campaign.
- Right Person, Right Channel, Right Message
Reach the right people: when engaging your supporters, Matt explained that you are likely to spend 80% of your time on 20% of your fundraisers, so it’s critical to identify and target your highest potential champions. For example, Matt reached out to former recipients of aid from Team Rubicon’ Hurricane Sandy response to see if they would be willing to help fundraise for a subsequent relief effort. This targeted outreach resulted in nearly $250,000 raised by the Rockaway Women for Progress who shared their deeply personal story to support disaster relief.
Use the right channel: there are few better examples of finding the right channel than an email Matt sent out to supporters during Harvey relief efforts asking recipients what content, channels, and frequency they preferred. The results were illuminating and allowed Matt to create highly customized communication flows to each recipient. After incorporating feedback from the survey, Matt achieved an impressive 87% read rate on those targeted communications.
Send the right message: in addition to customizing the outreach channel, create messaging that maximizes the format of each channel, but don’t necessarily recreate the wheel for each channel. Matt recommends taking long form content and repackaging it appropriately for each channel. For example, if you write a blog post, synthesize a piece of that content and use it as a teaser with a link to the article and it send through SMS or a Facebook post.
- Demonstrate Gratitude and Impact
Conveying gratitude to your supporters in an authentic way is an essential step for establishing a lasting relationship. Handwritten notes and an SMS message of thanks can both be appropriate if they align with the communication preferences of your supporters. Matt often uses both direct and digital communications to maximize the effectiveness of the channel and demonstrate the sincerity of Team Rubicon’s gratitude. Team Rubicon sends personalized thank you notes and sends an SMS message linking the campaign’s impact report to demonstrate how the contributions of each fundraiser tie into Team Rubicon’s work.
Timely, specific, personalized notes of thanks help deepen your relationship with your fundraisers and make your campaigns stickier because your supporters can clearly connect their efforts with the outcomes of your organization. Ultimately, this can help you convert new donors into lifetime supporters.
Want the full scoop? Catch the presentation below.