Many people simply want to turn the lights on with their online fundraising campaign. But in a competitive giving environment, this represents a mistake and also leads to lesser results. Building an initiative requires advance work for maximum impact. Specifically, you want to galvanize and prepare your core team and most ardent supporters before you turn the lights on. You also want to time and sequence your communications.
This is particularly true of time-limited initiatives like short fundraising campaigns or fundraising contests. You definitely want your street team, friendly online influencers, and if possible, select media prepared BEFORE the launch.
When done right, your community of social good investors–donors and advocates who you interact with regularly–will embrace your initiative, and even help launch it. They will enjoy being a part of the effort, and see their roles as contributing to a larger programmatic initiative (and hopefully, a successful one). This is part of sequencing a campaign, and making sure it starts well.
For example, one coaching tip we generally provide to social fundraisers is to get their closest friends to donate first BEFORE communications. The benefits are two-fold: 1) to include them and not make them feel left out, and 2) to seed early successes in the campaign so interested parties find an active giving page, and feel comfortable donating. It’s much easier to join the party than to be the first donor!
Good timing and sequencing blends old-fashioned fundraising skills with communications savoir faire. When Atlas Corps won the Pepsi Refresh contest, it prepared by building coalitions as well as creating schedules of emails to its investors. Atlas has replicated this success over and over again in fundraising contests like America’s Giving Challenge and Chase.
To the point on communications best practices, when Procter & Gamble launched its well-known integrated media campaign for the Old Spice Guy, it seeded its effort, and also sequenced it. The Wieden + Kennedy creative campaign moved from movie theater ads to the larger ad campaign to social media interaction via video responses on YouTube. Online influencers were well prepared before the YouTube effort began.
Consider that timing and sequencing is an essential part of classic strategy. Consider what the Japanese classic on strategy, The Book of Five Rings by Musashi, says:
“There is timing in everything… From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy.”
Most strategic initiatives end at the selection of tactics. To rise above the general media noise that all of your stakeholders suffer, envision the entire program, plan it out in an efficient manner, and time the delivery of your efforts appropriately. Do more than just turn the lights on.
Really, it’s like a concert, when the stadium lights dim, and the colored lights above the stage turn on, a band begins. But they have prepared and practiced and have even given their most loyal fans front row seats. A good concert is a well orchestrated event.