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Riddle: What do the following have in common?

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Uber
Airbnb
Snapchat
Instagram
Fitbit
Spotify
Dropbox
WhatsApp
Hulu
Pinterest

Answer: None of these existed 12 years ago.

Technology affords nonprofits an incredible opportunity to reach people that we didn’t have just 12 years ago. As you’re beginning to brainstorm about this year’s year-end giving campaign, we want to share with you five best practices to maximize the opportunity of digital fundraising.

  • Plan strategically for maximum impact. Any digital acquisition campaign, especially at year end, should be integrated into your nonprofit’s overall fundraising rhythm. If you’re thinking about engaging potential donors through a digital experience for a year-end campaign, you should consider the amount of time it typically takes to cultivate those new relationships. If you want to maximize the results from your digital strategy, think about how you can leverage it to achieve a greater response for your future fundraising efforts.
  • Set quantifiable goals. Deciding to engage donors through a social game or quiz because it’s trendy is a bad strategy. Your year-end digital campaign should exist to solve a fundraising problem. Without taking the time to think through the problem you’re trying to solve, your nonprofit has the potential to waste a lot of time, energy, and effort. Setting clearly-defined, quantifiable goals beforehand will help ensure the campaign features help to solve a tangible problem your nonprofit is facing. Digital fundraising can be a valuable way to build a healthier and more sustainable funding model, but only if you know why you’re using it.
  • Maximize opportunities to develop a pre-launch buzz. The weeks before the campaign begins are an important time to raise awareness and encourage signups. A year-end fundraising campaign isn’t effective when no one knows it exists. Here are a few strategies to generate awareness about your year-end campaign:
    Personal URL postcards. Sending prospects a postcard that includes a personal URL is a great way to engage donors who prefer direct mail. It’s also an opportunity to capture valuable information and data for donor stewardship.
    Promotional emails. Because of the digital nature of online campaigns, promotional emails are a natural opportunity to create awareness and excitement about your upcoming campaign.
    Partnerships. Banners, emails, blog posts, and Facebook posts by partner organizations can be another valuable way to spread the word. Finding an organization that can help spread the word about your year-end campaign can be a great way to engage thousands of new potential donors.
    Social media. Because of the viral nature of the various digital fundraising, tools like Facebook and Twitter can provide your current donors with an opportunity to invite others in their sphere of influence leading up to the campaign.
  • Design an engaging experience. As the famous advertising executive David Ogilvy once said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” If you truly want to leverage a digital campaign as a way to acquire or upgrade donors, it needs to be appealing. When it comes to developing a successful online campaign, here are two things you need to remember in order to maximize your opportunity for success.
    Provide engaging content. Have fun. Design something you would actually want to play and share with your friends. Look for ways to connect your game to your organization’s mission. Whether you’re developing a social gaming campaign or a social quiz, ask yourself, “What would motivate and inspire me to participate if I knew nothing about your organization or case for support?”
    Make it easy – but not too easy. Most people who engage through a social game or online quiz participate during “in between” moments, so your campaign needs to be simple enough to be performed in a few minutes. If it is too difficult or time-consuming, people will become frustrated and opt out. However, if it is too easy, participants will quickly lose interest. For example, if you’re developing a social game, have participants answer questions that can be found by exploring a specific webpage or after watching a brief video. Finally, make sure the rules for your campaign are clear and each activity is relevant to the brand.
  • Leverage the native benefits of the internet. The Internet can turn a single campaign into a “viral” sensation in ways that other fundraising strategies cannot. In order for your digital fundraising campaign to truly take off, you need to make sure your campaign is built to leverage the native “viral” benefits the Internet provides.
    Make it social. Integrate social sharing throughout the experience and encourage participants to share the campaign with their spheres of influence. The process should be simple. Donors should have the opportunities to send emails and share through social media within the experience. Encouraging donors to recruit friends is a valuable way to expand the influence. To be an effective acquisition tool, the digital campaign must reward both sharing and recruiting. Providing incentives for your audience to participate and share is a key component in the overall marketing effectiveness of any social campaign. Whenever you’re developing a digital fundraising campaign, it’s important to remember Mechlab’s formula for online marketing effectiveness: Online Marketing Effectiveness = (Offer + Incentive) – (Friction + Anxiety). You need to incentivize people to not only engage with your game or quiz, but also share it with their social networks. This also means making it easy to share. The “viral” effect of your campaign is directly proportional to the incentive you offer and how easy it is for participants to share. Social recognition is an obvious incentive, but the best strategy is to offer something your participants truly value (i.e trips, VIP access, dinner with the leader of your organization, etc.). The “viral” effect of your campaign is directly proportional to the incentive you offer and how easy it is for participants to share. Another social incentive, especially for a social gaming campaign, is competition among friends. For example, a leaderboard showing the player’s position within their own social group of fellow players provides a more meaningful connection than a generic leaderboard of strangers. Any action your participants take should be rewarded with some sort of incentive.
    Leverage multi-channel communication early and often. Passive landing pages and daily emails are a good start, but incorporating the campaign’s messaging into social media, texting, and other communication channels provides continual reinforcement. Don’t rely on one communication channel to motivate a prospective donor to participate.

From acquiring new prospects to upgrading current donors, digital fundraising has become a valuable solution for nonprofits looking to engage today’s donors in more personal and meaningful ways. Don’t miss the opportunity this year end.

To get even more practical ideas for your year-end fundraising, join us this Thursday for the webinar, Amplify Your Year-End Fundraising. Register here.