Everyone wants to win in a fundraising contest. It takes more than simply activating your house email file, tweeting, and updating your Facebook fan page. Consider that everyone vying for the contest prize will do that. To win, you have to elevate your campaign to outperform the competition.
Here are 11 tips to win that contest and matching grants. These can also be applied to simple fundraising drives, too.
The longer the contest, the more you need a marathon mindset. There will be hills and valleys. In the valleys it can become difficult to maintain your spirits, and continue plugging away. This is what long distance runners call “hitting the wall.” You will hit the wall, and need to power through it.
Shorter contests require a high level of energy for a sustained period of time—a day, perhaps two days. The sprint mentality means driving through fatigue and the fears of over-asking. Communicate to your stakeholders that the effort is for a short period of time. They will support you.
2) Map Out the Contest
It’s important to choose points for maximum activity. There are times during the day that are better to ask for a donation, such as 11:30AM EST—before lunch and as the West Coast comes to work. Smaller individual prizes within a larger contest are worth considering, not only from a strategic win perspective, but also to generate momentum for the larger effort.
3) Build Coalitions
Create coalitions with other nonprofits, friends and fundraisers so you can support each other. This is particularly useful during voting contests, but can be of great benefit to a fundraiser if your organizations can support each other by providing mutual asks to stakeholders. Select friends and partners that have similar beliefs and causes so the request is more likely to be welcomed by their stakeholders.
In the case of individuals, this is an extremely powerful way to get help. The Millennial Donors report says a peer ask is the number one trigger for a donation.
4) Get Creative
Plan creative stories and ideas that can drive donations in flurries. Remember, everyone is asking for a donation, so what’s going to make your effort stand out? Provide incentives such as matching grants, wonky celebrity responses, crazy videos and campaign ideas, rewards for 100th, 1000th donation, etc.
5) Show Them Your Pain
Along the lines of creativity, donors are always entertained by the thought of a trial. Perhaps it’s a tattoo, a marathon, or a dare (like a dunk tank). Whatever the pain, donors are likely to rally around some sort of demonstration that you care THAT much about the cause. Show them your pain!
6) What Will the Money Be Used For?
Accountability is important. In fact, the Millennial Donor report says it’s the second most important factor behind a peer request in garnering donations. Treat donors like investors. Show them how their money will benefit society and make a difference. Highlight videos of beneficiaries. Let them tell their story to donors.
7) Matching Grants
Get your larger funders to put up matching grants so social media donations go further. Garnering $50 means more when it will actually garner the cause $100. It makes donors feel like their dollars are that much more important, and incentivizes them to give more. Similarly, larger donors feel that their dollars are going further, too.
8) Make the Ask Simple and Direct
Sometimes a request for a donation isn’t easy to understand. Remember, donors are busy just like the rest of us. Clearly communicate what you want them to do. Ask politely, but directly for the money.
9) Don’t Cross the Streams
It is important to customize communications by network—Email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Different networks have unique interests, nomenclature (particularly Twitter), as well different lengths for content. Make sure you are honoring your unique communities with specific asks that resonate with them. To post unilaterally will yield lower results, and may come off as spammy.
Thank yous are important, but remember people want to be recognized for making a difference. Give your donors a shout-out on mutual social networks, and even a suggestion to follow them publicly. Such public acknowledgements honor them, and signals to the rest of your network that they, too, can be featured on your properties for making a difference.
11) Turn the Fly Wheel
Reporting back after a contest is important, but so is a response through the effort. Let your donors know how the effort is coming along. If they want, let them help out more, not necessarily with a donation, but by telling their friends, etc. In a Good to Great sense, the faster you can get donors and friends telling your story, the quicker your “fly wheel” turns, and the contest accelerates.
What would you add?