How To Run a Successful Year-End Integrated Appeal, Part 2
This guest blog post is brought to you by Will Nolan, Director of Communications & Administration at Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a long-time client and friend of Big Duck.
If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, you might want to read my first four tips before diving in to the final five.
5. Tap into as many outlets and interests at once (webinar, newsletter, person of the month, letter from that person).
I am particularly proud of this past year’s campaign because it was truly integrated. Not only did we ask for donations across all of our various outlets, we also included related information in our newsletter, our person of the month series, and in one of the campaign emails.
This year’s appeal had to do with funding a specific research project led by a top researcher in our field. So we wrote about the research project in our December newsletter, featured our researcher as our person of the month, and hosted a webinar where this same scientist was able to answer questions and share his findings in a more intimate, accessible way.
We also had one of the emails of the campaign come directly from him. This way he could address what the money was going to be used for and thank the community for their help.
6. Stack the appeal time with victories and “gifts” to the community
We try desperately not to make December all about asking. We also try to give back to our constituents. This means events like the above-mentioned webinar (our community loves this kind of access to researchers, lobbyists, therapists, etc.).
We also made sure we had some press announcements ready to come out during the appeal. This way we could reemphasize what we are doing with their investment in us and why of all the Duchenne organizations out there, we are the ones to support. (Yes, even the smallest of diseases have “competition” from other foundations!)
7. Be nimble. Be ready to rework your strategy at a moment’s notice.
We have been blessed the last few years to receive last minute matches that really inspire people to give. Sometimes we go into a campaign with a matching gift in place, but inevitably we get a donor saying they want to increase the existing match. This is great, of course! But it also means we have to be ready to reword already written emails, status messages, and tweets so that we can get people excited about this surprise gift.
One year, in fact, the project of our campaign changed, about a week before launch. Something critical that desperately needed funding had popped up and it took priority over the plan we had in place. Hopefully this won’t happen, but you need to be okay with letting it happen if it means a more successful campaign for a better end result.
8. Give your year-end results quickly.
Our families want to know that their gift made a difference, so we always try to give at least broad results right after the New Year. We also let them know what their gift is being invested in and keep track of that investment throughout the year.
The project we featured in this last campaign will be receiving a grant from us that met the goal we wanted to raise. This research is heading towards clinical trial, and there is already media buzz about it. This kind of news lets our donors know that when we get their gift, we do what we say we’re going to do with it, and that their investment gets results.
We can then comment back throughout the year that, because of their gift at the holidays, this project continues to go forward. That keeps the year-end appeal alive in the community until you start the next campaign. And, hopefully, they believe in the projects you continually choose to support with each campaign.
9. Thank, thank, thank!
I know, duh. But it’s worth reminding that the way you thank can be almost as important as the way you ask. It can be a simple thank you from the figurehead of your organization that has a personal feel to it, or you can do a little more. Our last campaign had a thank you video from boys in the community with Duchenne. It was embedded in their email receipt, and then we shared it on Facebook when the campaign was over. The response was great.
Just make sure you take the time to think about how you are going to thank your donors. It may make them even more generous next time!
I hope these tips are helpful and that you see how easy and necessary it is to take a campaign concept and integrate it across all of your organization’s channels. It just makes the return that much more significant!